The Department of the Interior announced today that it has completed the final step to begin processing applications received from eligible Alaska Native Vietnamese-era veterans on approximately 27 million acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Via the Federal Register tomorrow morning, Secretary Deb Haaland will issue a public land ordinance that opens these lands up for selection and disposition, pursuant to the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019. Through the Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land Allocation Program, the BLM offers eligible individuals the opportunity to select an allotment of up to 160 acres on available federal land in Alaska.
“This announcement is a significant achievement in fulfilling our sacred obligation to American veterans,” said Secretary Haaland, whose father served in the Vietnam War. “The Department prides itself on moving quickly so Vietnam-era Alaskan veterans can select the land allotments they are entitled to, with a broad area of selection.”
Secretary Haaland and BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning announced the Department’s intention to open these lands during a visit to Anchorage in April 2022.
Previously, there were approximately 1.2 million acres of available federal land open for allotment selection. This new ordinance provides claimants with approximately 28.3 million acres to choose from. This is the third time federally administered land has been offered to Alaska Native veterans in Vietnam, who did not have access to land allotments while serving in the Vietnam War.
Secretary Haaland’s order partially revokes 15 orders issued in 1972 and 1973 pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and Executive Order 10355 for the sole purpose of allowing Vietnam-era veterans Alaska Natives to select land allotments in the Kobuk-Seward Peninsula, Ring of the Fire, Bay, Bering Sea Western Interior and East Alaska planning areas.
Subject to valid existing rights, the lands described in the Public Lands Ordinance will be open for selection and processing of applications beginning at 8 a.m. AKST on September 14, 2022. The BLM has already received approximately 203 allotment applications. on these lands. All valid applications received prior to the opening date will be considered submitted concurrently with that time. Those received later are taken into account in the order of submission.