Tribal Consultation and Coordination
On August 9, 2016 the California State Lands Commission adopted a Tribal Policy in order to provide guidance and consistency in the Commission’s interactions with California Native American Tribes. The Policy reflects input from California Native American Tribes and was developed in collaboration with Commission staff, other California agencies and departments, and the Governor's Tribal Advisor. Tribal engagement and consultation is important to the Commission, as well as the State of California, and efforts in recent years have been made to ensure that government-to-government communications between the State and Tribes effectively address areas of mutual interest and concern. These efforts include the establishment of a Tribal Advisor in the Governor’s Office (pursuant to Executive Order B-10-11) to oversee consultation between the Administration and Tribes, and the enactment of Chapter 532, Statutes of 2014 (AB 52) which strengthens notification requirements under CEQA and invites formal tribal input at an earlier stage of environmental review than before (see below). The Commission's Policy recognizes that Tribes have used many of the lands, waterways, and resources, which may be affected by Commission actions, to support their cultures and ways of life for millennia, and that these Tribes and their members have unique and valuable knowledge and practices for conserving and using these resources sustainably.
The Commission's policy highlights four themes:
- Mutual education will include training Commission staff in collaborative engagement, providing information to interested Tribal representatives about the Commission and its leasing, CEQA, and regulatory processes.
- Mutual respect in all interactions between Commission staff and California Native American Tribes will recognize the time and effort invested by all parties and further the goal of finding mutually agreeable resolutions to protect tribal cultural resources.
- Outreach will provide ample opportunity for communication to occur early in the planning process such that there is enough time to consider protecting resources of interest to California Native American Tribes when developing alternatives to proposed projects.
- Timely notice and information sharing will allow sufficient time for Tribal representatives to consult with their Tribal governments prior to providing comments on proposed projects and development, submitting questions, or expressing concerns to the Commission.
AB 52 added provisions to CEQA related to Tribal consultation and consideration of project impacts to Tribal Cultural Resources, including consideration of mitigation and alternatives that may be proposed by the Tribal representative. The Commission regularly acts as a lead agency under CEQA and must ensure it complies with the consultation requirements in AB 52. The Commission's Tribal Policy is consistent with the existing CEQA requirements and the Policy's themes are intended to complement and guide consultations occurring pursuant to AB 52.
AB 52 provides for a consultation process during evaluation and consideration of CEQA projects with Tribes that have formally requested notification. Because the notification must contain specific information, Commission staff encourages interested Tribes to submit notification requests using the sample letter format provided by the Native American Heritage Commission. Submission of maps showing the Tribe's area of affiliation is also strongly encouraged.