U.S. Interior Dept. Announces Plans to Restore Native American Land

Via Flickr

Elizabeth Miglin | April 29, 2021

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland issued an order to ease the process for Native American tribes to apply for ownership and management of tribal land on Tuesday. The order reverses steps taken by the Trump administration to slow the application process and will help the Biden administration’s environmental justice efforts. 

In 2017 the Trump administration moved the land-into-trust decisions to the Interior Department’s headquarters staff, resulting in delays in the decision-making process. During the Trump administration 75,000 acres of land were placed into trust, compared to 560,000 acres under the Obama administration according to Reuters.

Under the Secretary’s Order 3400, the authority to review and approve land applicants has been re-delegated to the Bureau of Indian Affairs regional directors. The slowing of the approval process has resulted in increased costs and delays for tribes to develop housing projects, manage law enforcement agencies and develop local economies.

Native populations are at a higher risk of vulnerability to climate change due to a lack of food security, ability to adapt to climate change, and tribal control of resources. Researchers increasingly argue in favor of tribes gaining greater control in the resource management decision making process due to contemporary environmental inequalities which exacerbate the impact of climate change.  

The Interior Department estimates there are 1,000 pending applications by tribes to put land into trust, most of which are lands located within existing reservation boundaries. 

Learn more about the University of Iowa’s acknowledgment of land and sovereignty here

Petition hopes to lower bird collisions with wind turbines

Photo by Changhua Coast Conservation Action, Flickr

The American Bird Conservancy petitioned the U.S. Department of the Interior to establish a permitting system that will lower the number of birds colliding with wind turbines.

An estimated 400,000 birds die each year after colliding with wind turbines, and that number will increase as more wind turbines are built around the nation.

Although Iowa is the second leading producer of wind energy in the nation, bird collisions have not been a major issue in our state. Many of Iowa’s turbines are planted in crop areas, which see little avian activity.

For more information on the petition, and on the risk posed to birds by wind turbines, read The Gazette’s article here.