Alaska Native Vietnam-Era Veterans Allotments, 41495-41513 [2020-13808]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR Before and during the RAs, the EPA held multiple public meetings on site. The EPA has updated the public regarding the FYRs by placing ads in the local newspaper, as well as updating the local information repository and the Site’s web page. Community involvement activities associated with the deletion will include making the notice of intent to delete available for public comment. In addition, the Region 7 Superfund Records Management Service Center will construct a special document collection that will include the listed document IDs for the deletion docket documents. This collection will be available for public review and is located on the Site’s web page and the Regulations.gov website. Bureau of Land Management I. Determination That the Site Meets the Criteria for Deletion in the NCP In accordance with 40 CFR 300.425(e), EPA Region 7 finds that the Annapolis Lead Mine Site (the subject of this deletion action) meets the substantive criteria for deletion from the NPL. The EPA has consulted with and has the concurrence of the state of Missouri. All appropriate Fundfinanced response under CERCLA was implemented, and no further response action by responsible parties is appropriate. The implemented remedy at the Site has achieved the degree of cleanup specified in the ROD for all pathways of exposure. All selected RA objectives and associated cleanup levels are consistent with agency policy and guidance. No further Superfund response is needed to protect human health and the environment. List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 300 Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Chemicals, Hazardous substances, Hazardous waste, Intergovernmental relations, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Superfund, Water pollution control, Water supply. Authority: 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS ‘‘Search’’ button. Follow the instructions at this website. H. Community Involvement Dated: July 2, 2020. James Gulliford, Regional Administrator, Region 7. [FR Doc. 2020–14912 Filed 7–9–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 43 CFR Part 2569 [LLAK940000 L14100000.HM0000 20X] RIN 1004–AE66 Alaska Native Vietnam-Era Veterans Allotments Bureau of Land Management, Interior ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposes to issue regulations to enable certain Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans to apply for land allotments under Section 1119 of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of March 12, 2019 (Dingell Act). The Dingell Act requires the BLM to issue regulations to implement the Act’s land allotment provisions. This proposed rule would enable certain Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans who, because of their military service, were not able to apply for an allotment during the late 1960s and early 1970s to do so now. DATES: Please submit comments on this proposed rule to the BLM on or before August 10, 2020. The BLM is not obligated to consider any comments received after this date in making its decision on the final rule. The proposed rule includes information collection activities that must be approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). If you wish to comment on the information collection requirements in this proposed rule, please note that the OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collection of information contained in this proposed rule between 30 and 60 days after publication of this document in the Federal Register. Therefore, a comment to the OMB on the proposed information collection requirements is best assured of being given full consideration if the OMB receives it by August 10, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by the number ‘‘RIN 1004–AE66,’’ to the BLM by any of the following methods: —Mail/Personal or Messenger Delivery: U.S. Department of the Interior, Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, Mail Stop 2134 LM, 1849 C St. NW, Washington, DC 20240, Attention: RIN 1004–AE66. —Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. In the Searchbox, enter ‘‘RIN 1004–AE66’’ and click the SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 41495 For Comments on Information Collection Written comments and suggestions on the information collection requirements should be submitted within 30 days of publication of this document to www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain. Find this particular information collection by selecting ‘‘Currently under 30-day Review—Open for Public Comments’’ or by using the search function. Please indicate ‘‘OMB Control Number 1004–XXXX/RIN 1004–AE66,’’ regardless of the method used to submit comments on the information collection burdens. If you submit comments to the OMB on the information-collection burdens, you should provide the BLM with a copy, at the BLM address provided above, so that all written comments can be summarized and addressed in the final rulemaking. Comments not pertaining to the proposed rule’s information-collection burdens should not be submitted to OMB. The BLM is not obligated to consider or include in the Administrative Record for the final rule any comments that are improperly directed to OMB, rather than the BLM. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Krabacher, Division of Lands and Cadastral, Bureau of Land Management, 222 West Seventh Avenue, Mail Stop 13, Anchorage, Alaska 99513–7409; telephone (907) 271–5681, for information relating to the substance of this proposed rule. Persons who use a telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 1–800–877–8339 to leave a message or question with the above individuals. You will receive a reply during normal business hours, Alaska time. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Public Comment Procedures II. Background III. Discussion of the Proposed Rule IV. Procedural Matters I. Public Comment Procedures If you wish to comment on the information collection requirements, you should send those comments directly to the OMB as outlined under the ADDRESSES heading; however, we ask that you also provide a copy of those comments to the BLM. You may submit comments on the proposed rule itself, marked with the number ‘‘RIN 1004– AE66,’’ to the BLM by any of the methods described in the ADDRESSES section. Please make your comments on E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 41496 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules the proposed rule as specific as possible, confine them to issues pertinent to the proposed rule, and explain the reason for any changes you recommend. Where possible, your comments should reference the specific section or paragraph of the proposal that you are addressing. The comments and recommendations that will be most useful and likely to influence agency decisions are: 1. Those supported by quantitative information or studies; and 2. Those that include citations to, and analyses of, the applicable laws and regulations. The BLM is not obligated to consider or include in the Administrative Record for the final rule comments that we receive after the close of the comment period (see DATES) or comments delivered to an address other than those listed above (see ADDRESSES). The BLM has determined that a public comment period of 30 days is required for this proposed rule, per 318 DM HB 5.4(A). The universe of parties who will be affected by this proposed rule is relatively limited, and those parties have received notice that this proposed rule is being prepared, either through the enactment of the Dingell Act itself, or through the BLM’s extensive pre-publication outreach efforts, or both. At the same time, Section 1119 of the Dingell Act requires a final rule to be promulgated by September 12, 2020, which cannot be accomplished with a longer comment period. Therefore, the BLM concludes that a public comment period of 30 days is adequate for all affected parties to provide feedback, and is necessary to comply with the statutory directive. Before including your address, telephone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Comments on the proposed rule, including names and street addresses of respondents, will be posted as they arrive at the BLM, and will be available for public review at http:// www.regulations.gov. Enter ‘‘1004– AE66’’ in the Searchbox to find the proposed rule. II. Background On December 18, 1971, Congress enacted the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA; 43 U.S.C. 1601, et seq.), which repealed the Alaska VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 Native Allotment Act (34 Stat. 197, as amended). During the time leading up to the repeal of the Alaska Native Allotment Act, certain Alaska Natives who were eligible to apply for allotments were serving in the U.S. military and may have missed their opportunity to apply because of their military service. In 1998, Congress enacted a law allowing certain Alaska Native veterans a new opportunity to apply for allotments under the Alaska Native Allotment Act, as it was in effect before its repeal (Alaska Native Veterans Allotment Act of 1998; 43 U.S.C. 1629g). Those Alaska Native veterans were able to apply for allotments from July 31, 2000 to January 31, 2002. Under the Alaska Native Veterans Allotment Act of 1998, about 250 allotments were issued to Alaska Native veterans or their heirs. On March 12, 2019, Congress enacted the Dingell Act, in order to provide an additional opportunity for Alaska Native veterans who have not applied for or received an allotment under prior laws to apply for an allotment. Congress required the BLM to issue regulations implementing the Dingell Act. This proposed rule would carry out that congressional mandate. The BLM, in coordination with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), consulted with the federally recognized Tribes located in Alaska and Alaska Native Corporations, and conducted presentations throughout Alaska. The purpose of these meetings was to share information and gather input from entities representing Alaska Natives who will be impacted by these regulations. Participants included both Native and non-Native individuals. Oral comments were recorded at each meeting; notes of the meetings, as well as all written comments submitted to the BLM at the meetings, are included in the administrative record for this rule. III. Discussion of the Proposed Rule § 2569.100 subpart? What is the purpose of this This section explains why the BLM is promulgating these regulations. Specifically, promulgating these regulations is required under 43 U.S.C. 1629g–1(b)(2), and will specify the procedures under which Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans will be able to select and receive lands. § 2569.101 What is the legal authority for this subpart? The legal authority for this subpart is 43 U.S.C. 1629g–1(b)(2). PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 § 2569.201 What terms do I need to know to understand this subpart? This section lays out the definitions that will be needed for the reader to fully understand the proposed regulations. Allotment. The BLM adopts the definition of allotment from 43 CFR 2561.0–5, which defined ‘‘allotment’’ in the regulations for the Alaska Native Allotment Act. The Dingell Act does not specifically provide for this definition, but the intent of Congress was to offer Alaska Natives who served in the military during the Vietnam era a chance to receive an allotment similar to the one that they otherwise could have received under the Alaska Native Allotment Act. Additionally, the Dingell Act uses a Certificate of Allotment as the conveyance instrument. This conveyance instrument was only used in the past for restricted fee and trust allotments. As such, the BLM adopts the definition of ‘‘allotment’’ as it has been used for the Certificate of Allotment under the Alaska Native Allotment Act and the Alaska Native Veterans Allotment Act of 1998. Certificates of Allotment granted under those acts include the following recitation: ‘‘[T]he land above-described shall be deemed the homestead of the allottee and his heirs in perpetuity, and shall be inalienable and nontaxable until otherwise provided by Congress or until the Secretary of the Interior or his delegate, pursuant to the provision of the said Act of May 17, 1906, as amended, approves a deed of conveyance vesting in the purchaser a complete title to the land.’’ A similar recitation should be used in conveyances under the Dingell Act as well to ensure that Alaska Natives receiving land under the Dingell Act will receive the same rights as those granted to Alaska Natives under the Alaska Native Allotment Act and the Alaska Native Veterans Allotment Act of 1998. Available Federal Lands. This term incorporates the definition from the Dingell Act. In general, ‘‘available Federal land’’ is defined as vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved public land. Additionally, land that has been selected but not conveyed to either the State of Alaska or to an Alaska Native Corporation is available as long as the selection is voluntarily relinquished. Land that has already been conveyed out of Federal ownership is not available. ‘‘Available Federal land’’ further incorporates the requirement that the land is certified as free of known contaminants, a requirement that is found separately in the statute. E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules Eligible Individual. This term is used throughout the proposed regulations for a Native veteran who is eligible to receive an allotment under the Dingell Act, or another person who is eligible to receive an allotment on the behalf of such a veteran. 43 U.S.C. 1629g–1(a)(2) defines such an individual as a Native Veteran who served in the Armed Forces between August 5, 1964, and December 31, 1971, and who did not receive an allotment under one of the three previous allotment statutes specified in the Dingell Act. While the Dingell Act only expressly excludes individuals who have already received an allotment under one of these three statutes, because the Dingell Act was intended to benefit individuals who missed their opportunities to apply under these statutes, the proposed regulations also exclude individuals who applied under these statutes, but whose applications remain pending. Native. The proposed regulations restate the definition from the Dingell Act, which in turn uses the definition of Native from the ANCSA. As stated in the ANCSA, this definition requires either proof of a minimum blood quantum, or else proof that one is a citizen of the United States who is regarded as an Alaska Native by the Native village or Native group of which one claims to be a member and whose father or mother is (or, if deceased, was) regarded as Native by any village or group. Additionally, any decision of the Secretary regarding eligibility for enrollment is final. As used, this term would include all Alaska Natives, including enrolled members of the Metlakatla Indian Community, Annette Island Reserve. Native Corporation. This term refers to the Alaska Native Corporations created pursuant to the ANCSA. Realty Service Provider. This term refers to the tribal and intertribal organizations that provide Trust Real Estate Services pursuant to a contract or compact with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Receipt date. This term is used in the proposed regulations to refer to the date on which an application arrives at the BLM Alaska State Office. The Receipt Date is used to determine which application would receive preference if two or more applications contain conflicting selections. Segregate. This term is given the same meaning in the proposed regulations that it has in the BLM’s general land resource management regulations. By incorporating this widely used definition, the proposed regulations help the reader understand that once an application is received, the land VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 selected in that application is removed from the operation of the public land laws so no other entity can make a claim on that land. Selection. This term refers to the lands that an Eligible Individual chooses to apply for in an application. State. This term means the political entity of the State of Alaska. State or Native corporation selected land. This term refers to lands that have been selected by, but not conveyed to, the State or a Native corporation. This definition helps readers understand that while applicants can select from lands that have been selected by the State and Native corporations, they may not select lands that have already been conveyed to the State or a Native Corporation. Valid relinquishment. The Dingell Act allows an Eligible Individual to select, and receive from the BLM, lands that have been selected by the State or a Native corporation if that entity ‘‘agrees to voluntarily relinquish the selection.’’ For the relinquishment to be valid, the voluntary relinquishment must be signed by either a person authorized by a board resolution of the Native corporation or a delegated official of the State. A valid relinquishment may be conditioned upon the application being accepted and the location of the selection being fully established by survey, and may also be conditioned upon who receives the land. This provision ensures that relinquishments go into effect only at such time as there is certainty regarding the location and that the applicant will receive the land. Veteran. The proposed regulations incorporate the definition from 38 U.S.C. 101. The BLM found that attempting to restate all the incorporated parts of that definition within the regulations would confuse readers. Therefore, the proposed regulations point the reader to the statute instead. For purposes of implementing the Dingell Act, this definition includes individuals who died in service and who meet the other requirements of 38 U.S.C. 101. Who Is Qualified for an Allotment § 2569.301 How will the BLM let me know if I am an Eligible Individual? The BLM has been working with the BIA, the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to identify Eligible Individuals prior to the selection period. Pursuant to the Dingell Act, the VA and the DoD provided to the BIA a list of all individuals whose records indicated military service during the time period set forth in the statute. The BIA compared that list to its list of Alaska PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 41497 Natives and removed those individuals who are not Alaska Natives. The BLM refined the list further to remove Native Veterans who received an allotment or have an application pending under one of the earlier statutes listed in the Dingell Act. The BLM would use this list to identify individuals that the BLM believes to be Eligible Individuals. After the list is created, the BLM would mail letters to all individuals included on the list at the most recent addresses on file with the VA and BIA. The purpose of this initial letter would be to provide additional notice to these individuals of the opportunity to apply for an allotment. Being included on this list would not guarantee that a person is an Eligible Individual under the Dingell Act, however, and therefore, an individual who receives such notice would still be required to certify that the statements made on his or her application are complete and correct to the best of his or her knowledge and belief, including that he or she is an Alaska Native, has not received an allotment, meets the definition of a Veteran, and served during relevant time period. § 2569.302 What if I believe I am an Eligible Individual, but I was not notified by the BLM? This section addresses the information that Eligible Individuals who were not identified through the process described above would need to provide in order to demonstrate that they are eligible. The BLM foresees that there may be individuals who would not be included on the list due to errors or inconsistencies in the records at the DoD, the VA, or the BIA. This section informs those individuals that in addition to the application, they would be required to provide a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood or other documentation from the BIA demonstrating that they meet the definition of a Native, and a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (Form DD–214) or other documentation from the DOD or VA demonstrating that they meet the definition of a Veteran. § 2569.303 Who may apply for an allotment under this subpart on behalf of another person? This section explains who may apply on behalf of an Eligible Individual who is unable to apply on his or her own behalf. In paragraph (a), the BLM addresses how a person could apply on behalf of a deceased veteran. The Dingell Act allows for a personal representative, ‘‘appointed in the appropriate Alaska State court or E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 41498 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules registrar has qualified,’’ to apply on behalf of the estate of a deceased Eligible Individual. The BLM understands the term ‘‘registrar,’’ as used in the Dingell Act, to refer to an Alaska State court employee who adjudicates informal probates. The phrase ‘‘Alaska State court or registrar has qualified’’ therefore allows the appointment of a personal representative only through the Alaska State court system, through either the informal probate process, which is adjudicated by the registrar, or the formal process, which is adjudicated by a judge. The BLM does not understand the Dingell Act, as enacted, to allow for personal representatives to be appointed by a Tribal court or an out-of-state court. The apparent intent of the statutory language is to ensure that the BLM would not have to decide between competing claims of individuals who assert that they are duly appointed personal representatives of the same deceased veteran. In paragraph (b) of this section, the proposed regulations address the situation in which a veteran is alive, but is unable to apply on his or her own behalf or chooses to have another person do so. The BLM has attempted to be as broad as possible in recognizing the legal mechanisms by which a person could legally apply on behalf of a veteran. A conservator or guardian is typically appointed by a court for a person who is no longer capable of managing his or her affairs. Unlike a personal representative, a conservator or guardian need not be appointed by an Alaska State court, because the Dingell Act contains no such restriction for conservators or guardians. An attorneyin-fact, meanwhile, is appointed by the Eligible Individual him- or herself before becoming incapacitated. An individual would also be able to appoint an attorney-in-fact if the individual is not incapacitated but would like to allow the attorney-in-fact to complete the application on his or her behalf for some other reason. Commenters are encouraged to suggest any other legal mechanisms that may not be captured in this paragraph. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Applying for an Allotment § 2569.401 When can I apply for an allotment under this subpart? This section identifies the period during which the BLM would accept applications. The application period would begin on the effective date of the final regulations and run for a period of 5 years, as provide in the Dingell Act (43 U.S.C. 1629g–1(b)(3)(B)). Under the proposed rules, certain circumstances VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 described in § 2569.410, 2569.502(b), or 2569.503(a) may require the BLM to request more or new information from an applicant who initially filed his or her application during the period described in paragraph (a). The BLM would continue to accept this information for up to 60 days after the information is requested, even after the termination of the 5-year period in paragraph (a). The BLM further recognizes that a legal representative may need to be appointed to provide the required information, and § 2569.507(c) would further extend the time in which the BLM could receive this information for two years when needed for the applicant or the applicant’s heirs to complete that process. § 2569.402 Do I need to fill out a special application form? The proposed regulations would require that applications be submitted on a BLM form, ‘‘Alaska Native Vietnam-Era Veteran Land Allotment Application,’’ under an OMB form number to be assigned when OMB approves the collection. § 2569.403 How do I obtain a copy of the application form? The BLM is proposing to directly mail a copy of the application form to those persons who have been preliminarily identified as Eligible Individuals through the process described in § 2569.301. The applications would be mailed to the most recent addresses on file with the VA, BIA, and BLM. This section also identifies locations where copies of the application form would be available for applicants who do not receive an application in the mail. Those locations include the BIA, BIA Realty Service Provider’s offices, BLM Public Rooms located in Anchorage or Fairbanks, or on the internet at blm.gov/ak-native-vietnamvet-land-allotment-2019. § 2569.404 What must I file with my application form? This section identifies the documents that would be necessary to file a complete application under various applicant scenarios. Paragraph (a) applies to every applicant and explains how the applicant would identify the lands they select for their allotment. The BLM is attempting to make this process as easy as possible for applicants. Therefore, applicants would be asked to provide a map with the selection marked on the map. In previous allotment acts, the BLM required a legal description. The difficulty of creating the legal description created uncertainty for the PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 applicant about what land they would receive, and the BLM has determined that the map approach would create greater certainty. The BLM intends to provide a mapping tool on its website to help applicants identify available Federal lands. The BLM intends to keep this map updated with the identified available Federal lands throughout the selection period. The applicant would even be able to draw their desired selection onto a map using the map tool and know they are keeping their description within available Federal lands and within the acreage limit. The only written requirement would be that the applicant identify the section, township, range, and meridian of the selection so that the BLM can properly locate the selection. The applicant would be able to easily find that information on the mapping tool on the BLM’s website or ask a Realty Service Provider or the BLM for assistance. The BLM would also accept, but not require, any additional information about the location that the applicant would like to supply. The regulation clarifies that the BLM would defer to the depiction on the map unless the applicant specifies that they want the written description to be the controlling document. In paragraph (b) of this section, the BLM describes the other materials that may need to be filed with the application besides the selection. Under the proposed regulations, applicants whose names appear on the list of individuals believed by the BLM to be Eligible Individuals would not have to provide proof of the applicant’s military service or documentation identifying the applicant as an Alaska Native. This information would already have been collected by the DoD, VA, BIA, and BLM at the time the list of presumed Eligible Individuals is created. As noted above, however, these individuals would still need to certify that they meet the requirements for eligibility by signing the application form. Those applicants whose names did not appear on the list of presumed Eligible Individuals, meanwhile, would need to provide proof of their status as a Native Veteran. The documentation identifying the applicant as a Native may consist of a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood or of other documentation from the BIA verifying that the applicant meets the definition of Alaska Native, such as a letter issued by the BIA Alaska Region. The documentation showing military service, usually a Form DD–214, would need to demonstrate that the applicant served during the period between August 5, 1964, and December 31, 1971, E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS and was released or discharged in some way other than dishonorably. For those persons applying on behalf of another individual or his or her estate, the proposed rules also identify the types of proof that would be necessary to apply as a personal representative, guardian, conservator, or attorney-in-fact. An individual applying as a personal representative of a deceased veteran would need to prove that he or she had been appointed by an Alaska State Court and that the appointment was still in effect. An individual applying on behalf of a living veteran as a guardian or conservator would have to provide proof of his or her appointment by a court of law. An individual applying as the attorney-infact for a living veteran would be able to do so as long as the power of attorney documentation is legally valid and current, and is either a general grant of power-of-attorney, or specifically grants the individual either the power to conduct real estate transactions on behalf of the veteran, or the specific power to apply for this allotment program. In paragraph (c), the proposed regulations explain that an applicant would be required to certify that the statements in the application are true, complete, and correct to the best of their knowledge. This section is included to make applicants aware that there are serious ramifications if an applicant were to lie on the application. A person could be prosecuted pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 1001 for false statements on the application. § 2569.405 What are the special provisions that apply to selections that include State or Native corporation selected land? Under the proposed rules, an applicant could select, in whole or in part, land that has been selected by the State or a Native corporation but has not yet been conveyed to that entity. Lands selected by the State pursuant to the Alaska Statehood Act or a Native corporation under the provisions of ANCSA are segregated from operation of the public land laws. The Dingell Act allows Eligible Individuals to select from these lands even though the lands are otherwise segregated from the operation of the public land laws. However, in order for BLM to allow such a selection, the State or Native corporation would have to choose to make that land available by relinquishing its selection. Under the proposed regulations, an applicant could request that the State or Native corporation relinquish its selection; the proposed regulations VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 further provide that the relinquishment could be conditioned on the approval of the applicant’s application. Applicants need to be aware that even if the State or Native corporation could relinquish their selection, the law does not require them to do so. The relinquishment would have to be in the form of a letter from the State or Native corporation, and would have to include either the legal description of the parcel the entity is willing to relinquish or a copy of the applicant’s application with its land description. The letter would also have to describe the conditions, if any, for the relinquishment. If the relinquishment is by a Native corporation, the letter would have to be accompanied by a board resolution authorizing the relinquishment and granting the person signing the letter authority to do so. If the State or ANCSA selection were being relinquished only on behalf of an individual, the relinquishment would have to name the individual. A conditional relinquishment would become effective when the BLM formally accepts the relinquishment, which would occur after the BLM has issued a Final Plan of Survey Notice for the application at issue. In the case of a conditional relinquishment, if the applicant was determined not to be eligible or if the application was rejected on other grounds, the relinquishment would be of no effect and the State or ANCSA selection would remain in place. The State or Native corporation would be notified in the decision rejecting the application. The BLM also proposes to allow the State or a Native corporation to make a blanket conditional relinquishment of certain of its selections, which would take effect if any valid application is received for the lands at issue. Any selections that are conditionally relinquished in this manner would be identified on a map. Such a blanket conditional relinquishment would become effective as to a given parcel of land when the BLM formally accepts the relinquishment, which would occur after the BLM has issued a Final Plan of Survey Notice for an application embracing that parcel. Paragraph (b) of this section describes a scenario in which a Native corporation may not relinquish a selection. Under ANCSA, each Native corporation is entitled to receive a certain amount of land. The regulation specifies that a relinquishment cannot cause a Native corporation to become under-selected. ‘‘Under-selected’’ refers to the situation where the Native corporation has less land selected than it needs to receive in order to fulfill its entitlement under PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 41499 ANCSA. For example, if a Native corporation needs to receive 500 acres from the BLM to fulfill its entitlement and has 600 acres selected, it cannot relinquish 160 acres under these proposed regulations. Paragraph (c) of this section defines when the lands would become segregated when an applicant applies for State or Native corporation selected land. In some cases, land that has been selected by the State or a Native corporation is ‘‘top-filed’’—that is, another entity has expressed its intent to select the same land in the event that the land is not conveyed to the first entity. The BLM interprets the Dingell Act as expressing Congress’s intent to give Eligible Individuals first preference to any selections relinquished by the State or Native corporations, even if another entity has a ‘‘top-filing’’ on those lands. In such a case, the regulations would allow the Eligible Individual’s selection to fall into place as soon as the conditional relinquishment is accepted, and would segregate those lands immediately from the operation of the public land laws. This would resolve any conflict between the applicant and the top-filing entity in favor of the applicant. Paragraph (d) defines what would happen if the State or Native corporation is unable or unwilling to provide a valid relinquishment. Applicants need to be aware that even if the State or Native corporation could relinquish its selection, the law does not require it to do so. In this scenario, the BLM would treat the selection like any other selection that includes unavailable land by following the procedures laid out at 43 CFR 2569.503. § 2569.406 What are the rules about the number of parcels and size of the parcel for my selection? The statute provides that an applicant may select only 1 parcel of land ranging in size from 2.5 to 160 acres. § 2569.407 Is there a limit to how much water frontage my selection can include? Applications made under these regulations would be subject to 43 CFR 2094. That subpart establishes a general limitation of 160 rods (one half-mile) of water frontage. An application may be submitted for a selection that exceeds the 160-rod (one half-mile) limitation, but the application would be subject to a determination that the land is not needed for a harborage, wharf, or boat landing area, and that a waiver would not harm the public interest. If the BLM could not waive the 160-rod (one halfmile) limitation, the BLM would issue a E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 41500 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules decision finding the selection includes lands that are not available Federal lands, and then follow the procedures set out at § 2569.503. § 2569.408 Do I need to pay any fees when I file my application? The BLM does not propose to charge any fees in connection with the Alaska Native Veterans Allotment Program of 2019. § 2569.409 Where do I file my application? Applications would have to be delivered to the BLM Alaska State Office in Anchorage, in person, by mail, or by delivery service. The BLM does not propose to accept electronic applications. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS § 2569.410 What will the BLM do if it finds a technical error in my application? If the BLM finds a technical error in an application, it would send a notice identifying the error and provide 60 days after receiving the notice to correct the error. A ‘‘technical error,’’ as referred to in this section, includes such matters as a missing portion of the application form, a missing signature, or missing materials that would be required to be provided along with the application under § 2569.404–405. Generally, a ‘‘technical error’’ is one that the BLM can identify relatively easily upon reviewing the application. A ‘‘technical error’’ does not include an application that conflicts with an earlier application or that includes lands that are not available Federal lands; these scenarios are dealt with separately, in § 2569.502 or 503, respectively. The purpose of the proposed 60-day correction period is to allow applicants to correct technical errors without the inconvenience of submitting a completely new application package. As noted, any corrected or completed application would be deemed received, for purposes of preference, on the date that the last correction is received. Throughout the proposed regulations, the BLM provides the applicant 60 days to respond to various requests. Because mail delivery can be unreliable in some Native villages, the BLM proposes to start the 60-day response time from the point that the applicant receives the decision or notice. Hence, any delay in the mail being received in the village would not affect the length of time for his or her reply. The BLM is not proposing a period of time longer than 60 days because an application is deemed received when BLM receives the last correction, so that the benefit to VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 applicants of extending the period beyond 60 days would be limited. § 2569.411 When is my application considered received by the BLM? Under the proposed rules, an application that is free from technical errors and from conflicts with higherpreference applications or with unavailable lands would be considered received on the receipt date—that is, the date on which the application is physically received by the BLM Alaska State Office (see paragraph 2569.02(f)). This means that even if the BLM took some time to review an application and determine whether the application is free from technical errors, the application would not lose preference during that time; once the application is reviewed and confirmed to be complete and correct, it would receive the preference corresponding to the date on which it was physically received. The proposed rule clarifies that applications received prior to the effective date of the regulations would be deemed received on the effective date. This would protect applicants who want to apply on the first day of the selection period from being penalized if the mail arrives to the BLM sooner than expected, while preserving the integrity of the effective date as the start date for the selection process. If an application contained a technical error, the BLM would provide notice as set forth in § 2569.410 and require the applicant to correct the error. The application would then receive the preference corresponding to the date on which the corrected application was physically received. If an application conflicts with higher-preference applications or with unavailable lands, the BLM would proceed according to § 2569.502 (for conflict with higher-preference applications) or 2569.503 (for conflicts with unavailable lands). In each of those cases, the applicant would have the choice to continue with adjudication of those portions of his or her selection that are free from conflict, in which case the application would receive the preference corresponding to the date on which the application was physically received (see §§ 2569.502(b)(2) and 2569.503(a)(2)). On the other hand, if the applicant chooses to file a substitute selection in order to adjust the original selection or replace it with a new selection altogether, the applicant would receive the preference corresponding to the date on which the substitute application was physically received (assuming that the substitute application is free from technical errors or conflicts). PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 The BLM is not proposing to allow corrected, completed, or substitute applications to ‘‘relate back’’ to the original application—that is, to receive the preference date corresponding to the date on which the original application was physically received—for several reasons. First, the BLM is concerned that if corrected or completed applications could relate back to earlier applications, the BLM would receive a large number of incomplete, even skeletal, ‘‘placeholder’’ applications at the beginning of the filing period. This would unfairly prejudice applicants who take the time to submit complete and accurate applications, because the BLM would be unable to process those applications until it waits to see whether the applicants responsible for the placeholder applications eventually file completed and corrected applications within the correction period, and then determine whether any of the placeholder applications conflict with the later-received applications. A second reason for not allowing corrected, completed, or substitute applications to relate back to earlier applications is that doing this would not prevent unfairness from occurring, but rather would shift the potential unfairness to other situations and other applicants. Consider, for example, a situation in which Applicant A files an application containing a technical error, shortly before Applicant B files a complete and correct application that conflicts with Applicant A’s selection. Under the rules as proposed, Applicant B would receive his or her selection, while Applicant A would be required to submit a corrected or completed application, and to change his or her selection to avoid a conflict with Applicant B’s selection. While this outcome may seem unfair to Applicant A, who filed an earlier application and may have only made a relatively minor technical error, the result is that the selection is awarded to the first applicant who submitted a complete and correct application for that land. By contrast, if Applicant A’s corrected or completed application were allowed to relate back to the original application, Applicant A would eventually receive his or her selection, after correcting all technical errors, and Applicant B would lose out. This outcome may seem fairer to Applicant A, but it would be arguably unfair to Applicant B, the first applicant to submit a complete and correct application for that land. Moreover, this scenario could result in a chain reaction in which multiple applicants lose out to applications that were submitted later in time than their own applications. Consider what happens if Applicant B E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules submits a substitute application to avoid the conflict with Applicant A, which in turn conflicts with the application of Applicant C, who submitted a complete and correct application in the interim between Applicant B’s original and substitute applications. Under the relate-back approach, Applicant B’s substitute selection would relate back to his or her original application and would receive preference over Applicant C’s selection. The result would be that Applicant C, like Applicant B, would lose out to an applicant whose complete and correct application for the land in question was received after Applicant C’s own complete and correct application. Moreover, Applicant C would then presumably file a substitute application him- or herself, potentially continuing the chain reaction. For these reasons, the BLM believes that the approach set forth in the proposed regulations, which would not allow any new applications to relate back to earlier applications, is the fairest and most practical approach. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS § 2569.412 Where can I go for help with filling out an application? The Department of the Interior and the VA have been tasked in the Dingell Act with providing assistance in applying for allotments. Applicants are encouraged to seek help in filing their applications. Applicants should contact their local VA or BIA office. In addition, certain tribal and intertribal organizations that are registered as BIA Realty Service Providers could also provide assistance and information. To find the list of the BIA Realty Service Providers, go to https://www.bia.gov/regional-offices/ alaska/real-estate-services/tribalservice-providers. The BLM would also have many locations where an applicant could receive help. You could contact the BLM in person, by email, or by telephone, Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays. The BLM would not provide legal advice, but would answer questions and provide assistance regarding the application process. An applicant could also get information through the BLM’s website at www.blm.gov/ak-native-vietnam-vetland-allotment-2019. This website includes frequently asked questions and a mapping tool depicting available Federal lands. The mapping tool on the website could be used to identify and print selections. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 § 2569.413 How will I receive notices and decisions? This section describes how the BLM would provide notices and decisions and would provide instructions for changing an applicant’s contact information of record with the BLM after the application process has begun. The BLM would mail all decisions and notices related to the application to the address of record, and it would be very important for the applicant to be able to receive every mailing. This section makes it clear it is the applicant’s duty to keep their address of record up to date. The BLM would attempt to deliver all notices and decisions by Certified Mail with Return Receipt. If this first attempt fails, the BLM would make a second attempt using an alternative method. If the second attempt fails, the BLM may issue a decision rejecting the application. Generally, the BLM would only issue a decision rejecting the application if a second attempt at delivery fails for a notice that requires action from the applicant, such as a notice of a decision finding that the application did not have preference under section § 2569.502. The BLM may, in its discretion, call the applicant or contact a representative of the applicant’s Tribe or Native corporation in order to resolve an issue involving undeliverable mail, but would not guarantee that it would do so in every case. Applicants should ensure that their address of record is kept up to date, and that arrangements are made to receive mail at that address at all times. If an applicant were to be unavoidably unreachable at some point during the application process, the applicant might consider designating a temporary attorney-in-fact. Processing the Application § 2569.501 What will the BLM do with my application after it is received? This section describes the steps that the BLM proposes to take after an application is deemed received, as set forth in § 2569.411. The full processing of the application would also include a review of whether an application is complete under § 2569.410 and should be deemed received. As stated in paragraph (a), the BLM would enter the land selection into the BLM’s Master Title Plats (MTPs). MTPs are large scale graphic representations of Federal ownership, agency jurisdictions, and rights reserved to the Federal Government. MTPs for Alaska are located online within the Resources section of the BLM’s website at: https:// www.blm.gov/programs/lands-and- PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 41501 realty/regional-information/alaska/ land-transfer. The purpose of this step is primarily informational, to help later applicants avoid selecting lands that are subject to an earlier-received, higher-preference application. Applicants are advised that because some time may pass between the date when an application is received and the date when the MTP is updated, the fact that certain lands are not shown as selected on the MTP would not guarantee that the lands are not subject to an earlier-received application, and that selecting those lands would not result in a conflict. Additionally, inclusion in the MTP would indicate to the general public that the lands had been segregated from the public land laws for purposes other than allotment selection under the Dingell Act, such as mining claims. In paragraph (b) of this section, the BLM would review the selection for conflicts with other applications, and for inclusion of any lands that are not available Federal lands. If the selection were in conflict, or contained unavailable lands, the BLM would proceed as described in §§ 2569.502 and 2569.503, respectively. During this step, the BLM would also review its records to identify any valid existing rights within the selection. Any such rights that were identified by the BLM would be noted in the Notice of Survey, as described in paragraph (d). Applicants should be aware that there may be valid existing rights that the BLM does not discover through its review. Even if the BLM does not discover those valid existing rights on a selection, the conveyance of an allotment under the Dingell Act would be made subject to those rights. Next, in paragraph (c) of this section, the BLM would make minor adjustments to the selection, if needed, in order to match existing property boundaries, roads, or meanderable waterbodies, or to reduce the number of corners or curved boundary segments. For example, if a selection appeared to stop just short of a waterbody or existing property boundary, the BLM might adjust the selection to avoid leaving a narrow strip outside the selection. Similarly, if the selection contained excessive corners or curved segments that did not correspond to existing property boundaries or significant natural features, such as waterbodies, the BLM might adjust the selection to simplify its boundaries. The BLM intends to use this authority sparingly; however, such authority is required in order to ensure that the remaining public lands outside the selection could be managed efficiently. Moreover, many E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 41502 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS of these issues that would be removed through this step are likely to be inadvertent, in which case applying this authority would result in better property boundaries in the interest of the applicant. Next, under paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section, the BLM would send the applicant a Notice of Survey, informing the applicant of the lands that the BLM planned to survey, and provide the applicant an opportunity to challenge the Draft Plan of Survey. This step would allow the applicant to notify the BLM of any objections to the BLM’s exercise of its adjustment authority under paragraph (c), or of any errors in the survey plan. Paragraphs (f) and (g) of this section specify that the BLM would finalize the Plan of Survey and conduct the survey based on that plan. Under paragraph (h), the BLM would inform the applicant of the survey results by sending him or her a document that shows the land surveyed and provide the applicant an opportunity to dispute any errors within 60 days. Paragraph (i) of this section specifies that the BLM would then issue a Certificate of Allotment, as described in § 2569.506. This paragraph makes clear that the applicant would not receive title or any right to the land until the certificate is issued. This recognizes that situations may arise that show the BLM missed something in the adjudication process which would preclude issuing a certificate, even if it had finished all of the other enumerated steps above, and the applicant should not receive any right to the land. The BLM cannot convey land if at any point during the process it learns the conveyance would not meet the terms of the statute. Therefore, the applicant would not hold title to the land or have any rights to use it until he or she receives a Certificate of Allotment. Finally, under paragraph (j) of this section, the BLM would remove the land selection from the MTP if an application is rejected. This would make the public aware that the land would be subject to the public land laws again. § 2569.502 What if more than one Eligible Individual applies for the same lands? It is likely that two or more Eligible Individuals would select the same lands, in whole or part, and that the BLM would be required to decide which application would be accepted. The Dingell Act provides that if two or more Eligible Individuals submit an application for the same parcel of available Federal land, the BLM shall VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 ‘‘give preference to the selection application received on the earliest date; and . . . provide to each Eligible Individual the selection application of whom is rejected . . . an opportunity to select a substitute parcel of available Federal land.’’ In keeping with the statute, the BLM is proposing that first preference would be given to the complete application bearing the earliest receipt date. If two or more complete applications bear an identical receipt date, and one or more application bears a legible postmark or shipping date, then it is proposed that preference would be given to the application with the earliest postmark or shipping date. If applications for the same land still were tied after reviewing the receipt date and postmark or shipping date, the BLM is proposing that a number in sequence would be issued to those applications that are still tied. The BLM would then run a random number generator to pick the application that would receive preference. The BLM would then issue a decision to all applicants with conflicting selections with the outcome of the BLM’s determination of preference rights. An appeal of this decision could impact all conflicting applications. The proposed regulations specifically address an appeal of this decision at § 2569.801(b). Applicants whose selections were in conflict with another application and who did not receive preference according to the methods described above would have to make a choice. Within 60 days of receipt of the BLM’s notice, the applicant could provide the BLM a substitute selection that consists of either an adjustment to the original selection that avoids the conflict, or a new selection in another location. Such a substitute selection would be considered a new application, which would be assigned a new receipt date. Under this option the applicant would need to submit the new land description and a new map but would not need to resubmit any other portions of their application. Alternately, if only part of the selection were in conflict, the applicant could ask the BLM to keep processing the portion of the selection that is not in conflict. Under this option, the applicant would retain its original receipt date. However, the legislation only allows for one parcel of land to be selected and the applicant could not apply for more acreage later. The applicant would have 60 days to make a choice after receiving the BLM’s decision. If the applicant did not respond within that time, the BLM would issue a decision rejecting the PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 application. The applicant could, however, then file a new application before the end of the application period. § 2569.503 What if my application includes lands that are not available Federal lands? This section addresses what would happen if an applicant’s selection included lands that were not available Federal lands. While the BLM is maintaining a mapping tool to help applicants identify available Federal lands, it recognizes that situations may arise where the applicant still applies for lands that were not available because the land status changed or the BLM later found the lands are not vacant. This situation could also arise where an applicant’s selection is within State or Native corporation selected land and that entity refuses to relinquish its selection or the applicant applies for over 160 rods (one half-mile) worth of shoreline and the BLM could not issue a waiver under 43 CFR 2094.2 (see § 2569.407). If an applicant’s selection included lands that are not available Federal lands, the BLM is proposing that it would issue the applicant a decision informing the applicant that the lands selected are not available. The applicant would then have the same choices he or she would have under § 2569.503(b). The applicant could make a substitute selection that consists of an adjustment to his or her original selection that excludes the lands that are not available, or of a new selection in a different area. In either case, the new selection would be considered a new application, with a new receipt date. The applicant would only need to submit a new land description and a new map, however, and would not need to resubmit any other portions of his or her application. In the alternative, if only part of the applicant’s selection is unavailable, the applicant could ask the BLM to continue processing the part of the selection that was within available Federal lands. The applicant would retain the original receipt date but would not be allowed to apply for more acreage later, since the Dingell Act only allows for one allotment for each Eligible Individual. The applicant would have 60 days after receiving the BLM’s decision to make a choice between these options. After 60 days, if the BLM did not receive a response, the application would be rejected. If the application were rejected, the applicant could file a new application for different lands before the end of the application period E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules process. In most cases, in order to complete the application process, a personal representative (in the case of a § 2569.504 Once I file, can I change deceased applicant) or a guardian, my land selection? conservator, or attorney-in-fact (in the Once an application has been case of an incapacitated applicant) received in accordance with § 2569.411, would be required to be appointed to the applicant could only change his or continue the application process. her land selection if it was in conflict Under paragraphs (a) and (b), the with another selection or if the selected general provisions for an individual land were not available Federal land. who dies or becomes incapacitated Allowing an applicant to change his or during the application process would be her land selection under other the same as the provisions for an individual who dies or becomes circumstances would require the BLM incapacitated before the application to expend a lot of resources when begins (see § 2569.303). Specifically, a processing a selection, and may raise personal representative, guardian, fairness issues, because the initial selection would segregate the land from conservator, or attorney-in-fact would be required to provide the materials future applicants selecting that land. described in § 2569.404(b). Note that an § 2569.505 Does the selection need to applicant may choose to appoint an be surveyed before I can receive title to attorney-in-fact for reasons other than it? incapacitation. In such a case, the Yes. In order to accurately convey applicant should follow the instructions selected land, all land would have to be in paragraph (b). surveyed before the BLM could convey Paragraph (c) deals with the situation in which a deceased or incapacitated it to an Eligible Individual. The survey applicant has been sent a notice or process is described in § 2569.501(g). The applicant would not have to pay for decision from the BLM that requires prompt action, but no personal the survey. representative, guardian, or conservator § 2569.506 How would the BLM convey has been appointed, or no attorney-inthe land? fact has been designated. The BLM The Act requires the BLM to issue a would allow any individual who Certificate of Allotment to convey the receives the notice, or an employee of land. Once the survey process is the BIA or a Realty Service Provider, to completed, a Certificate of Allotment make a request for the application to be would be issued to the applicant, or to held in abeyance while a personal the heirs of the estate of a deceased representative, guardian, conservator, or applicant. All Certificates of Allotment an attorney-in-fact is appointed. Under would be made subject to any valid these circumstances, after receiving existing rights and would reserve all such a request, the BLM proposes to minerals to the United States. The extend the time for responding to the Certificate of Allotment is a specific BLM notice or decision for up to two type of conveyance instrument that years in order to allow for such a person includes a recitation similar to that to be appointed. Paragraph (d) of this section deals found in Certificates of Allotment with two situations in which an issued under the Alaska Native applicant would be allowed, but not Allotment Act, which states: ‘‘The land required, to respond to a notice from the above-described shall be deemed the BLM. If the applicant (or his or her homestead of the allottee and his or her estate) wished to accept the BLM’s heirs in perpetuity and shall be determination, then no further action inalienable and nontaxable until otherwise provided by Congress or until would be required, and no personal the Secretary of the Interior or his or her representative, guardian, conservator, or attorney-in-fact would need to be delegate, pursuant to the provision of designated or appointed. Conversely, if the Act of May 17, 1906, as amended, the applicant (or his or her estate) approves a deed of conveyance vesting wished to respond and dispute or take in the purchaser a complete title to the other action on the determination, then land.’’ a personal representative, guardian, § 2569.507 What should I do if the conservator, or attorney-in-fact would Eligible Individual dies or becomes have to be designated or appointed, as incapacitated during the application described above. If the applicant were to process? die and the estate did not appoint a personal representative, as permitted This section deals with situations in under this paragraph, then the which an Eligible Individual begins the application process but dies or becomes Certificate of Allotment would issue in the name of the applicant, rather than incapacitated before completing the jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS or appeal the decision, pursuant to § 2569.801. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 41503 his or her estate. Paragraph (e) of this section clarifies that outside of the circumstances described in paragraphs (b), (c), and (d), the BLM would not accept any correspondence on behalf of an applicant from any person other than the applicant or a duly appointed personal representative, guardian, conservator, or attorney-in-fact. Available Federal Lands—General § 2569.601 What lands are available for selection? The Dingell Act defines the lands that are available to be conveyed, and the BLM has no role in determining the lands available for selection through these regulations. The BLM is only identifying the lands that meet the definition of the Dingell Act. The lands must be federally owned lands in Alaska that are vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved, and certified as free of known contaminants. Unless Congress makes new lands available in the future, these lands are only those managed by the BLM. The Dingell Act also makes lands available that are selected, but not conveyed to, the State of Alaska or an Alaska Native Corporation, but only if the State or Native corporation chooses to relinquish its selection. Lands which the BLM cannot certify as free of known contaminants under § 2569.602 would also not be available. The Dingell Act also states the lands cannot be in the right-of-way of the Trans Alaska Pipeline; the inner or outer corridor of such a right-of-way; withdrawn or acquired for purposes of the Armed Forces; under review for a pending right-of-way for a natural gas corridor; within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; within a unit of the National Forest System; designated as wilderness by Congress; within a unit of the National Park System, a National Preserve, or a National Monument; within a component of the National Trails System; within a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System; or within the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. The BLM maintains an online map identifying the available Federal lands that is accessible at www.blm.gov/aknative-vietnam-vet-land-allotment-2019 or directly at https://arcg.is/1HTrrO. For those without access to the internet, a physical copy of the map of available Federal lands could be requested by either calling the BLM Alaska Public Room, the BIA Regional Realty Office or Fairbanks Agency Office, or your local BIA Service Provider, or by requesting a physical copy in person at any of the offices listed above under § 2569.412. E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 41504 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules § 2569.602 How will the BLM certify that the land is free of known contaminants? The BLM would review the databases listed in the regulation for contamination reports. If there were information indicating that the land is potentially contaminated in any of the databases, the land would not be available for selection. The BLM would not be able to provide warranty that the land is free from contamination beyond what is discernible from these databases. Commenters are encouraged to suggest any other sources the BLM should review before it certifies the lands as free from contamination. § 2569.604 Are lands that are valuable for minerals available? The BLM can convey an allotment that is valuable for minerals, but the ownership of the minerals would remain with the Federal Government. § 2569.605 What happens if new lands become available? If new lands were to become available due to action by Congress or otherwise, such as the BLM rejecting overselections, or the State or Native corporations relinquishing overselections, the BLM would first review those lands for any known contamination as described in § 2569.602. The BLM would then update the map tool at https://arcg.is/ 1HTrrO and its records to show those additional lands that would become available for selection. If an Eligible Individual did not have a pending selection, the individual could apply for these newly available Federal lands. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS National Wildlife Refuge System § 2569.701 If Congress makes lands available within a National Wildlife Refuge, what additional rules apply? Currently, no lands are available within National Wildlife Refuges. The Dingell Act, however, requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct a study to determine whether any additional Federal lands within units of the National Wildlife Refuge System in the State should be made available for allotment selection. If a subsequent act of Congress were to make lands available within a Refuge, the Dingell Act requires that lands conveyed within a National Wildlife Refuge include patent provisions that the land remain subject to the laws and regulations governing the use and development of the Refuge. If any such lands were made available by Congress, the BLM would update the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 list of available Federal lands as described in § 2569.605. Appeals § 2569.801 What can I do if I disagree with any of the decisions that are made about my allotment application? If any party is adversely affected by a decision issued by the BLM under these regulations, that party may appeal the decision to the Interior Board of Land Appeals by filing a notice of appeal in the manner set forth in 43 CFR part 4. The appellant would have the burden of showing that the decision appealed was in error. Failure to file a notice of appeal with the BLM within the time allowed would result in dismissal of the appeal. In order to avoid dismissal of the appeal, strict compliance with the regulations at 43 CFR part 4 and DOI Form 1842–1, ‘‘INFORMATION ON TAKING APPEALS TO THE INTERIOR BOARD OF LAND APPEALS’’ would be required. Paragraph (b) of this section addresses appeals of decisions made pursuant to § 2569.502(b), when more than one applicant applies for the same land. The BLM addresses this topic separately in the regulations because the applicant that receives preference for the lands could be harmed by the delay caused while a decision is being appealed by another applicant. Therefore, unless the BLM’s decision were stayed on appeal pursuant to 43 CFR 4.21, the BLM would continue to process the application that received preference, and any substitute selection made by the applicant who did not receive preference. This approach is consistent with 43 CFR 4.21(a)(2), which states, ‘‘A decision will become effective on the day after the expiration of the time during which a person adversely affected may file a notice of appeal unless a petition for a stay pending appeal is filed together with a timely notice of appeal.’’ A Petition for Stay, which must occur early in the process, requires the appellant to demonstrate he or she has a reasonable likelihood to win on the merits. If the appellant could not show a likelihood to win on the merits, the Board would not stay the decision and the BLM would continue to process the application of the applicant with preference, and potentially convey the land despite the ongoing appeal. This provision also makes it clear that the losing party would still have the right to select a substitute parcel following the appeal. Paragraph (c) of this section similarly informs a potential appellant that the lands included in his or her selection would become available for all future PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 entries, such as another allotment application or a mining claim, if the decision rejecting his or her application were not stayed. A Petition for Stay, which must occur early in the process, would require the appellant to demonstrate that he or she has a reasonable likelihood to win on the merits. If the appellant could not show a likelihood to win on the merits, the BLM would not continue to segregate the land from future entries. This paragraph also informs the applicant that he or she would lose the preference right if he or she is not granted a stay, even if he or she wins his appeal. This would ensure that a later applicant who believed the land was open for entry due to the BLM lifting the segregation did not lose his or her selection when the appeal was decided. It would be inequitable for a good faith applicant to lose his or her rights to the land where the appellant could protect his rights by filing a Petition for Stay. IV. Procedural Matters Regulatory Planning and Review Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget will review all significant rules. These draft regulations are not a significant regulatory action and are not subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866. E.O. 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation’s regulatory system to promote predictability, reduce uncertainty, and use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The E.O. directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements. These draft regulations would not have an effect of $100 million or more on the economy and will not adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities. The effect of these draft regulations E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules would be on a limited number of individuals who are qualified to apply for allotments and on the Interior Department agencies responsible for administering the allotment program. The allotment application period is limited by law to 5 years. The regulations create simple adjudication tasks for BLM staff to implement the Dingell Act. For more detailed information, see the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) prepared for this proposed rule. The RIA has been posted in the docket for the proposed rule on the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https:// www.regulations.gov. In the Searchbox, enter ‘‘RIN1004–AE66,’’ click the ‘‘Search’’ button, open the Docket Folder, and look under Supporting Documents. Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs (E.O. 13771) This rule is not a significant regulatory action under E.O. 12866, and therefore is not considered an E.O. 13771 regulatory action. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Regulatory Flexibility Act Congress enacted the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), to ensure that Government regulations do not unnecessarily or disproportionately burden small entities. The RFA requires a regulatory flexibility analysis if a rule would have a significant economic impact, either detrimental or beneficial, on a substantial number of small entities. This proposed rule would apply only to certain Alaska Native veterans eligible to apply for allotments and applies only to Alaska Native veterans as individuals. Therefore, the Department of the Interior certifies that this document would not have any significant impacts on small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) This rule is not a major rule under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (5 U.S.C. 804(2)). This rule: (a) Will not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. (b) Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions. (c) Will not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. The BLM is proposing regulations to implement Section 1119 of the Dingell VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 Act, which provides an additional opportunity for Alaska Native veterans who have not applied for or received allotments under prior laws to apply for allotments. This rule will have no significant economic impact. This rule will specify the procedures under which applications for allotments under Section 1119 of the Dingell Act are submitted and processed. Processing of these applications by the BLM will result in the transfer of lands selected by veterans from the Federal Government to the veterans, as required by Congress. Submitting and processing these applications will result in minor costs to the applicants and to the government. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act This proposed rule would not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, tribal governments, or the private sector of more than $100 million per year. The rule does not have a significant or unique effect on State, local, or tribal governments, or the private sector. A statement containing the information required by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) is not required. Takings (E.O. 12630) This proposed rule would not affect a taking of private property or otherwise have taking implications under E.O. 12630. Section 2(a) of E.O. 12630 identifies policies that do not have takings implications, such as those that abolish regulations, discontinue governmental programs, or modify regulations in a manner that lessens interference with the use of private property. Under the proposed rules, lands selected by an applicant must be federally owned lands in the State of Alaska that are vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved. An applicant may select, in whole or in part, land that has been selected by the State or a Native corporation, but has not yet been conveyed to that entity; however, the State or Native corporation must choose to make that land available by relinquishing their selection. The proposed rule would not affect private property rights. A takings implication assessment is not required. Federalism (Executive Order 13132) Under the criteria in section 1 of Executive Order 13132, this rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. A federalism assessment is not required because the rule would not have a substantial direct effect on the PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 41505 States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988) This proposed rule complies with the requirements of Executive Order 12988. Specifically, this proposed rule: (a) Meets the criteria of section 3(a) requiring that all regulations be reviewed to eliminate errors and ambiguity and be written to minimize litigation; and (b) Meets the criteria of section 3(b)(2) requiring that all regulations be written in clear language and contain clear legal standards. Consultation With Indian Tribes (Executive Order 13175 and Departmental Policy) The Department of the Interior strives to strengthen its government togovernment relationship with Indian tribes through a commitment to consultation with Indian tribes and recognition of their right to selfgovernance and tribal sovereignty. This proposed rule complies with the requirements of Executive Order 13175 and Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3317. Specifically, while preparing this proposed rule, the BLM initiated consultation with potentially affected tribes. Examples of consultation to date include written correspondence, and meetings and discussions about objectives of this rulemaking effort with representatives of tribal governments. Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) This proposed rule contains new information collections. All information collections require approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). We may not conduct or sponsor and you are not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The information collection requirements identified below associated with the Alaska Native Vietnam Veteran Land Allotment Program require approval by OMB: (1) Provide Proof of Eligibility (43 CFR 2569.302)—Section 2569.302 would allow individuals who believe that they are eligible to participate in the program, but who have not been automatically notified by the BLM that they are eligible, to apply for an allotment. Such individuals would be E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 41506 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules required to provide with their application supporting documents to prove they are eligible, such as a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood, and a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (Form DD–214). (2) Appointment of Personal Representative/Guardian/Attorney-infact (43 CFR 2569.303 and 2569.404)— Section 2569.303 would allow another person to apply for an allotment on behalf of an Eligible Individual. A personal representative of the estate of an Eligible Individual could apply for an allotment for the benefit of the estate. The personal representative must be appointed in an appropriate Alaska State court by either a judge in the formal probate process or the registrar in the informal probate process. A courtappointed guardian or conservator or an attorney-in-fact of an Eligible Individual could apply for an allotment for the benefit of the Eligible individual. Similarly, under § 2569.507 if an applicant dies or becomes incapacitated before completing the application process, a personal representative, guardian, conservator, or attorney-infact could be appointed to continue to represent the applicant or the applicant’s estate. Section 2569.404 identifies the information and documents that applicants would be required to include on their initial application form under various applicant scenarios. This form would collect basic contact information, along with the Eligible Individual’s date of birth, and: • A map showing the location of the requested allotment, along with a written description of the land requested. The BLM will provide an internet-based mapping tool with the identified available Federal lands; • Appropriate documentation proving that the Eligible Individual is an Alaska Native; • Appropriate documentation proving that the Eligible Individual is a Veteran who served during the Vietnam Conflict (between August 5, 1964, and December 31, 1971). • If applicable, documentation from an Alaska State Court that shows that a personal representative, guardian/ conservator, or attorney-in-fact is authorized to file the application or pursue an already-filed application on behalf of the Eligible Individual or his/ her estate. If additional time is needed for the applicant or the applicant’s heirs to arrange for a personal representative, guardian, conservator, or attorney-infact to be appointed, the BLM would allow the applicant, an employee of the BIA, or a Realty Service Provider to VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 request that the application be held in abeyance for 2 years. Note: With regard to the application process, section 2569.407 specifies that if an applicant’s selection contains more than 160 rods (one-half mile) of water frontage, the BLM will automatically request the Secretary to waive the 160rod limitation contained in Section 1 of the Act of May 14, 1898 (48 U.S.C. 371). (3) Request for 2-year Extension of Application Deadline (43 CFR 2569.401 and 2569.507)—Section 2569.401 would set a 5-year deadline for Eligible Individuals, their heirs, or representatives to submit initial applications. In the case of those who submit applications that are incorrect, incomplete, or conflict with other selections, Eligible Individuals would have 60 days after the BLM notifies them of these defects to submit corrected, completed, or substitute applications. This period may be extended for up to 2 years in order to allow a personal representative, guardian, conservator, or attorney-infact to be appointed. (see §§ 2569.410, 2569.502, and 2569.503) (This two-year extension language appears in both 2569.401(b) and 2569.507(c) reg text. The preamble in the proposed rule discusses the two-year extension under the 2569.401 discussion and includes the .507(c) citation.) (4) Allotment Application—Form BLM No. AK–2469 (43 CFR 2569.402 and 2569.404)—Section 2569.402 would require applicants to fill out and sign an application form (BLM No. AK–2569). The requirements associated with 2569.404 are specified above. Section 2569.403 would require the BLM to directly mail a copy of the application form to those persons who have been preliminarily identified as Eligible Individuals through the process described in § 2569.301. The applications would be mailed to the most recent addresses on file with the VA, BIA, and the BLM. This section also identifies locations where copies of the application form would be available for applicants who do not receive an application in the mail. (5) Multiple App Applications That Include Selected State and Native Corporation Lands (43 CFR 2569.405)— If an applicant requests land previously selected by, but not yet conveyed by the Federal Government to the State or a Native corporation, the applicant, or the BLM acting on behalf of the applicant, could request that the State or Native Corporation relinquish the land to the applicant. This relinquishment would be conditioned upon the applicant successfully completing the application process. In conjunction with this PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 rulemaking, the BLM anticipates that the State and Native corporations would also issue blanket conditional relinquishments of certain selected unconveyed lands. These blanket relinquishments also would take effect only if valid applications for these lands are successfully completed. Upon receipt of an application requesting State or Native Corporation selected, unconveyed lands, if the application does not include a relinquishment request from either the State or Naive Corporation, the BLM would automatically request such relinquishment on behalf of the applicant. The BLM must receive a valid relinquishment from the State or Native Corporation, agreeing to relinquish the land to the applicant before approving the application. Following existing Alaska Conveyance Program policy, the relinquishment would be in the form of a letter from the State or Native Corporation, and must include the legal description of the parcel the entity is willing to relinquish. The letter must also describe the conditions, if any, for the relinquishment. If the relinquishment is by a Native corporation, the letter must be accompanied by a board resolution authorizing the relinquishment and granting the person signing the letter authority to do so. If an application requests land covered by a blanket State or Native corporation relinquishment, a relinquishment letter and a Native corporation board resolution would not be required. (6) Correcting Technical Errors on Applications (43 CFR 2569.410)—If the BLM finds a technical error in an application, such as an incomplete or unsigned application, it would notify the applicant. The applicant would then have 60 days after receiving notification to correct the error. (7) Correcting Errors in Survey-related Documents (43 CFR 2569.501)—After receiving an application, reviewing the legal description of the land requested, and making minor boundary adjustments, if needed, the BLM would send the applicant a Notice of Survey, informing the applicant of the shape and location of the lands the BLM planned to survey. The applicant would have an opportunity to challenge, in writing, the draft Plan of Survey within 60 days of receipt of the BLM’s notice. (8) Substitute Selections—Multiple Applications on Same Lands (43 CFR 2569.502)—If two or more Eligible Individuals select the same lands, in whole or in part, the BLM would decide which application would be given preference based on either submission E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 41507 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules dates and times, or a lottery. The nonpreferred applicants could, within 60 days of receipt of the BLM’s decision, either provide the BLM a new substitute selection or request that the BLM continue to adjudicate the nonconflicting portion of the selection. If a non-preferred applicant does not respond to the BLM’s decision within 60 days, the BLM would reject the application and the Eligible Individual could file a new application for different lands before the end of the five-year program. Upon completion of the survey, the BLM would mail the applicant a document titled Conformance to Plat of Survey. If the applicant found an error in the way the BLM surveyed the land, based on the Plan of Survey, the applicant could dispute the survey in writing within 60 days of receipt of the Conformance of Plat of Survey. (9) Substitute Selections and Requests for Partial Adjudication (2569.502 and 43 CFR 2569.503)—If an Eligible Individual’s selection includes lands that are not available Federal lands, the BLM would issue a decision informing the applicant that the land is unavailable. The applicant could, within 60 days of receipt of the BLM’s decision either provide the BLM a new substitute selection or request that the BLM continue to adjudicate the portion of the selection that is within available Federal lands. If the applicant fails to respond within 60 days of receipt of the BLM’s decision, the BLM will reject the initial application and the Eligible Individual could file a new application for different lands before the end of the five-year application period. (10) Appeals of BLM Decisions (43 CFR 2569.502, 2569.503, and 2569.801)—Applicants would be allowed to appeal any of the BLM’s decisions regarding their applications to the Interior Board of Land Appeals as provided for under 43 CFR part 4. If the applicant is a non-preferred applicant under proposed 43 CFR 2569.502, the losing applicant could select a substitute parcel under proposed § 2569.502(b). Title of Collection: Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land Allotment. OMB Control Number: 1004–New. Form Number: None. Type of Review: New. Respondents/Affected Public: Individuals and State/Local/Tribal governments. Respondent’s Obligation: Required to Obtain or Retain a Benefit. Frequency of Collection: On occasion. Estimated Annual Nonhour Burden Cost: $55,000 (associated with court fees and miscellaneous expenses). Estimated annual number of responses Requirement Provide Proof of Eligibility (43 CFR 2569.302) Individuals/Households ......................................................................................................... Appointment of Personal Representative/Guardian/Attorney-in-fact (43 CFR 2569.303 and .404) Individuals/Households ......................................................................................................... Request for 2-year Extension of Application Deadline (43 CFR 2569.401 and 2569.507) Individuals/Households ......................................................................................................... Allotment Application (43 CFR 2569.402 and 2569.404 Individuals/Households ......................................................................................................... State/Native Corporation Relinquishments (43 CFR 2569.405) State/Local/Tribal Governments ........................................................................................... Correcting Technical Errors on Applications (43 CFR 2569.410) Individuals/Households ......................................................................................................... Correcting Errors in Survey-related Documents (43 CFR 2569.501) Individuals/Households ......................................................................................................... Substitute Selections—Multiple Applications on Same Lands (43 CFR 2569.502) Individuals/Households ......................................................................................................... Substitute Selections and Requests for Partial Adjudication (2569.502 and 43 CFR 2569.503) Individuals/Households ......................................................................................................... Appeals of BLM Decisions (43 CFR 2569.502, 2569.503, 2569.801) Individuals/Households ......................................................................................................... Totals ............................................................................................................................. Estimated annual hours per response Estimated total annual burden hours * 50 2 100 200 2.5 500 20 .5 10 500 4.5 2,250 75 2 150 175 2 350 20 2 40 150 2 300 15 .5 8 60 2 120 1,265 ........................ 3,828 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS * Rounded. As part of our continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burdens, we invite the public and other Federal agencies to comment on any aspect of this information collection, including: (1) Whether or not the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether or not the information will have practical utility; (2) The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of response. Send your comments and suggestions on this information collection by the date indicated in the DATES section to PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior at OMB–OIRA at (202) 395– 5806 (fax) or OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov (email). Please indicate ‘‘Attention: OMB Control Number 1004– AE66’’ regardless of the method used to submit comments on the information collection burdens. If you submit comments on the information-collection burdens, you should provide the BLM with a copy, at one of the addresses shown earlier in this section, so that we can summarize all written comments and address them in the final rulemaking. Comments not pertaining to E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 41508 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules the proposed rule’s informationcollection burdens should not be submitted to OMB. The BLM is not obligated to consider or include in the Administrative Record for the final rule any comments that are improperly directed to OMB. You may view the information collection request(s) at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/ PRAMain. National Environmental Policy Act The BLM does not believe this proposed rule would constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, and has prepared preliminary documentation to this effect, explaining that a detailed statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) would not be required because the proposed rule is categorically excluded from NEPA review. This proposed rule would be excluded from the requirement to prepare a detailed statement because, as proposed, it would be a regulation entirely procedural in nature. (For further information see 43 CFR 46.210(i)). We have also determined, as a preliminary matter, that the proposed rule does not involve any of the extraordinary circumstances listed in 43 CFR 46.215 that would require further analysis under NEPA. Documentation of the proposed reliance upon a categorical exclusion has been prepared and is available for public review with the other supporting documents for this proposed rule. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Effects on the Energy Supply (Executive Order 13211) This rule is not a significant energy action under the definition in E.O. 13211. Therefore, a Statement of Energy Effects is not required. Clarity of This Regulation We are required by E.O.s 12866 (section 1(b)(12)), 12988 (section 3(b)(1)(B)), and 13563 (section 1(a)), and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule we publish must: (a) Be logically organized; (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly; (c) Use common, everyday words and clear language rather than jargon; (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible. If you believe that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To better help us VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs that you find unclear, which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc. Author The principal authors of this proposed rule are: Paul Krabacher and Candy Grimes, Division of Lands and Cadastral Survey; assisted by the Office of the Solicitor. Casey Hammond, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Exercising the Authority of the Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management. List of Subjects in 43 CFR Part 2560 Alaska, Homesteads, Indian-lands, Public lands-sale, and Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. For the reasons set out in the preamble, the BLM proposes to amend 43 CFR part 2560 as follows: ■ 1. The authority citation for part 2560 is revised to read as follows: Authority: 43 U.S.C. 1201, 1740. 2. Add subpart 2569 to read as follows: ■ Subpart 2569—Alaska Native Vietnam-Era Veterans Land Allotments Sec. General Provisions 2569.100 What is the purpose of this subpart? 2569.101 What is the legal authority for this subpart? 2569.201 What terms do I need to know to understand this subpart? 2569.408 Do I need to pay any fees when I file my application? 2569.409 Where do I file my application? 2569.410 What will the BLM do if it finds a technical error in my application? 2569.411 When is my application considered received by the BLM? 2569.412 Where can I go for help with filling out an application? 2569.413 How will I receive notices and decisions? Processing the Application 2569.501 What will the BLM do with my application after it is received? 2569.502 What if more than one Eligible Individual applies for the same lands? 2569.503 What if my application includes lands that are not available Federal lands? 2569.504 Once I file, can I change my land selection? 2569.505 Does the selection need to be surveyed before I can receive title to it? 2569.506 How will the BLM convey the land? 2569.507 What should I do if the Eligible Individual has died or become incapacitated during the application process? Available Federal Lands—General 2569.601 What lands are available for selection? 2569.602 How will the BLM certify that the land is free of known contamination? 2569.604 Are lands that are valuable for minerals available? 2569.605 What happens if new lands become available? National Wildlife Refuge System 2569.701 If Congress makes lands available within a National Wildlife Refuge, what additional rules apply? Appeals Who is Qualified for an Allotment 2569.301 How will the BLM let me know if I am an Eligible Individual? 2569.302 What if I believe I am an Eligible Individual, but I was not notified by the BLM? 2659.303 Who may apply for an allotment under this subpart on behalf of another person? 2569.801 What can I do if I disagree with any of the decisions that are made about my allotment application? Applying for an Allotment 2569.401 When can I apply for an allotment under this subpart? 2569.402 Do I need to fill out a special application form? 2569.403 How do I obtain a copy of the application form? 2569.404 What must I file with my application form? 2569.405 What are the special provisions that apply to selections that include State or Native corporation selected land? 2569.406 What are the rules about the number of parcels and size of the parcel for my selection? 2569.407 Is there a limit to how much water frontage my selection can include? § 2569.100 subpart? PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Authority: 43 U.S.C. 1629g–1(b)(2). Subpart 2569—Alaska Native VietnamEra Veterans Land Allotments General Provisions What is the purpose of this The purpose of this subpart is to implement Section 1119 of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of March 12, 2019, Public Law 116–9, codified at 43 U.S.C. 1629g–1, which allows Eligible Individuals to receive an allotment of a single parcel of available Federal lands in Alaska containing not less than 2.5 acres and not more than 160 acres § 2569.101 What is the legal authority for this subpart? 43 U.S.C. 1629g–1(b)(2). E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS § 2569.201 What terms do I need to know to understand this subpart? Allotment is an allocation to an Alaska Native of land which shall be deemed the homestead of the allottee and his or her heirs in perpetuity, and shall be inalienable and nontaxable except as otherwise provided by the Congress; Available Federal lands means land in Alaska that meets the requirements of 43 U.S.C. 1629g–1(a)(1) and that the BLM has certified to be free of known contamination; Eligible Individual means a Native Veteran who meets the qualifications listed in 43 U.S.C. 1629g–1(a)(2), and does not have a pending application and has not already received an allotment pursuant to the Act of May 17, 1906 (34 Stat. 197, chapter 2469) (as in effect on December 17, 1971); or section 14(h)(5) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1613(h)(5)); or section 41 of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1629g); Native means a person who meets the qualifications listed in section 3(b) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1602(b)); Native corporation means a regional corporation or village corporation as defined in sections 3(g) and (j) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1602); Realty Service Provider means a Public Law 93–638 ‘‘Contract’’ or Public Law 103–413 ‘‘Compact’’ Tribe or Tribal organization that provides Trust Real Estate Services for the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Receipt date means the date on which an application for an allotment is physically received by the BLM Alaska State Office, whether the application is delivered by hand, by mail, or by delivery service; Segregate has the same meaning as in 43 CFR 2091.0–5(b); Selection means an area of land that has been identified in an application for an allotment under this part; State means the State of Alaska; State or Native corporation selected land means land that is selected, as of the receipt date of the allotment application, by the State of Alaska under the Statehood Act of July 7, 1958, Public Law 85–508, 72 Stat. 339, as amended, or the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) of December 2, 1980, 94 Stat. 2371, or by a Native corporation under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of December 18, 1971, 43 U.S.C. 1611 and 1613, and that has not been conveyed to the State or Native corporation; VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 Valid relinquishment means a signed document from a person authorized by a board resolution from a Native corporation or the State that terminates its rights, title and interest in a specific area of Native corporation or State selected land. A relinquishment may be conditioned upon conformance of a selection to the Plat of Survey and the identity of the individual applicant; and Veteran means a person who meets the qualifications listed in 38 U.S.C. 101(2) and served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, including the reserve components thereof, during the period between August 5, 1964, and December 31, 1971. Who Is Qualified for an Allotment § 2569.301 How will the BLM let me know if I am an Eligible Individual? The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in consultation with the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), has identified individuals whom it believes to be Eligible Individuals. If the BLM identifies you as a presumed Eligible Individual, it will inform you by letter at your last address of record with the BIA or the VA. Even if you are identified as presumptively eligible, you still must certify in the application that you do meet the criteria of the Dingell Act. § 2569.302 What if I believe I am an Eligible Individual, but I was not notified by the BLM? If the BLM has not notified you that it believes that you are an Eligible Individual, you may still apply for an allotment under this subpart. However, as described in § 2569.404(b), you will need to provide evidence with your application that you are an Eligible Individual. Supporting evidence with your application must include: (a) A Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood or other documentation from the BIA to verify you meet the definition of Native; and (b) A Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (Form DD– 214) or other documentation from DoD to verify your military service. § 2569.303 Who may apply for an allotment under this subpart on behalf of another person? (a) A personal representative of the estate of an Eligible Individual may apply for an allotment for the benefit of the estate. The personal representative must be appointed in an appropriate Alaska State court by either a judge in the formal probate process or the PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 41509 registrar in the informal probate process. The Certificate of Allotment will be issued in the name of the heirs, devisees, and/or assigns of the deceased Eligible Individual. (b) A court-appointed guardian or conservator or an attorney-in-fact of an Eligible Individual may apply for an allotment for the benefit of the Eligible individual. The Certificate of Allotment will be issued in the name of the Eligible Individual. Applying for an Allotment § 2569.401 When can I apply for an allotment under this subpart? (a) You can apply between [EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE] and [DATE 5 YEARS AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE]. (b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section, in the case of a corrected or completed application or of an application for a substitute selection for resolution of a conflict or an unavailable land selection, you can submit a corrected, completed, or substitute application within 60 days of receiving the notice described in § 2569.410, 2569.502(b), or 2569.503(a), respectively. This period may be extended for up to two years in order to allow a personal representative, guardian, conservator, or attorney-infact to be appointed, as provided in § 2569.507(c). (c) Except as set forth in paragraph (b) of this section, the BLM will issue a decision rejecting any application received after [DATE 5 YEARS AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE]. § 2569.402 Do I need to fill out a special application form? Yes. You must complete and sign BLM Form No. AK–2569–[OMB NUMBER], ‘‘Alaska Native Vietnam-Era Veteran Land Allotment Application.’’ § 2569.403 How do I obtain a copy of the application form? The BLM will mail you an application form if you are determined to be an Eligible Individual under § 2569.301. If you do not receive an application in the mail, you can also obtain the form at the BIA, a BIA Realty Service Provider’s office, the BLM Public Room, or on the internet at www.blm.gov/ak-nativevietnam-vet-land-allotment-2019. § 2569.404 What must I file with my application form? (a) You must include the following along with your signed application form: (1) A map showing the selection you are applying for: E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 41510 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules (i) Your selection must be drawn on a map in sufficient detail to locate the selection on the ground. (ii) You must draw your selection on a map that is either a topographic map or a printout of a map that shows the section lines from the BLM mapping tool, available at www.blm.gov/aknative-vietnam-vet-land-allotment-2019. (2) A written description of the lands you are applying for, including: (i) Section, township, range, and meridian; and (ii) If desired, additional information about the location. The submitted map will be given preference if there is a conflict between the written description and the submitted map, unless you specify otherwise. (b) In addition to the materials described in paragraph (a) of this section, you must also provide the following materials, under the circumstances described in this paragraph (b): (1) If you, or the person on whose behalf you are applying, are an Eligible Individual as described in § 2569.301, and were not notified by the BLM of your eligibility, you must provide proof that you, or the person on whose behalf you are applying, are an Eligible Individual, consisting of: (i) A Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood or other documentation from the BIA to verify that you (or the person on whose behalf you are applying) are an Alaska Native; and (ii) A Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (Form DD– 214) or other documentation from DoD to verify that you (or the person on whose behalf you are applying) are a Veteran and served between August 5, 1964 and December 31, 1971. (2) If you are applying on behalf of the estate of an Eligible Individual who is deceased, you must provide proof that you have been appointed by an Alaska State court as the personal representative of the estate, and an affidavit stating that the appointment has not expired. The appointment may have been made before or after the enactment of the Act, as long as it has not expired. (3) If you are applying on behalf of an Eligible Individual as that individual’s guardian or conservator, you must provide proof that you have been appointed by a court of law, and an affidavit stating that the appointment has not expired. (4) If you are applying on behalf of an Eligible Individual as that individual’s attorney-in-fact, you must provide a legally valid and current power of attorney that either grants a general power-of-attorney or specifically VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 includes the power to apply for this benefit or conduct real estate transactions. (c) You must sign the application, certifying that all the statements made in the application are true, complete, and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief and are made in good faith. § 2569.405 What are the special provisions that apply to selections that include State or Native corporation selected land? (a) If the selection you are applying for includes State or Native corporation selected land, the BLM must receive a valid relinquishment from the State or Native corporation that covers all of the lands in your selection that are State or Native corporation selected lands. This requirement does not apply if all of the State or Native corporation selected land included within your selection consists of land for which the State or Native corporation has issued a blanket conditional relinquishment as shown on the mapping tool available at http:// www.blm.gov/ak-native-vietnam-vetland-allotment-2019. (b) No such relinquishment may cause a Native corporation to become underselected. See 43 U.S.C. 1621(j)(2) for a definition of underselection. (c) An application for Native corporation or State selected land will segregate the land from any future entries on the land once the BLM receives a valid relinquishment. (d) If the State or Native corporation is unable or unwilling to provide a valid relinquishment, the BLM will issue a decision finding that your selection includes lands that are not available Federal lands and then follow the procedures set out at § 2569.503. § 2569.406 What are the rules about the number of parcels and size of the parcel for my selection? (a) You may apply for only one parcel. (b) The parcel cannot be less than 2.5 acres or more than 160 acres. § 2569.407 Is there a limit to how much water frontage my selection can include? Generally, yes. You will normally be limited to a half-mile along the shore of a navigable water body, referred to as 160 rods (one half-mile) in the regulations at 43 CFR subpart 2094. If you apply for land that extends more than 160 rods (one half-mile), the BLM will treat your application as a request to waive this limitation. As explained in 43 CFR 2094.2, the BLM can waive the half-mile limitation if the BLM determines the land is not needed for a harborage, wharf, or boat landing area, and that a waiver will not harm the public interest. If the BLM determines it PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 cannot waive the 160-rod (one halfmile) limitation, the BLM will issue a decision finding your selection includes lands that are not available Federal lands and then follow the procedures set out at § 2569.503. § 2569.408 Do I need to pay any fees when I file my application? No. You do not need to pay a fee to file an application. § 2569.409 Where do I file my application? You must file your application with the BLM Alaska State Office in Anchorage, Alaska, by one of the following methods: (a) Mail or delivery service: Bureau of Land Management, ATTN: Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans Land Allotment Section, 222 West 7th Avenue, Mail Stop 13, Anchorage, Alaska 99513–7504; or (b) In person: Bureau of Land Management Alaska, Public Information Center, 222 West 7th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska 99513–7504. § 2569.410 What will the BLM do if it finds a technical error in my application? If the BLM finds a technical error in your application, such as an incomplete or unsigned application form or missing materials that are required by § 2569.402, 2569.404 or 2569.405, then the BLM will send you a notice identifying any correctable errors or omissions. You will have 60 days from the date you received the notice to correct the errors or provide the omitted materials. You will be required to submit the corrections to the BLM within the 60-day period or the BLM will issue a decision rejecting your application and require you to submit a new application. Your corrected or completed application will be deemed received, for purposes of preference, on the date that the last correction is received, as set forth in § 2569.411. § 2569.411 When is my application considered received by the BLM? (a) An application that is free from technical errors, as described in § 2569.410, will be deemed received on the receipt date, except that if such an application is received before (EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE), the application will be deemed received on (EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE). (b) An application that contains technical errors, as described in § 2569.410, will be deemed received on the receipt date of the last required correction. (c) In the case of a substitute selection for conflict resolution under § 2569.502, or for correction of an unavailable lands E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules selection under § 2569.503, the substitute application will be deemed received on the receipt date of the substitute selection application. § 2569.412 Where can I go for help with filling out an application? jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS You can receive help with your application at: (a) The BIA or a BIA Realty Service Provider for your home area or where you plan to apply. To find the list of the BIA Realty Service Providers, go to https://www.bia.gov/regional-offices/ alaska/real-estate-services/tribalservice-providers or call 907–271–4104 or 1–800–645–8465; (b) The BLM Alaska Public Room: The Anchorage Public Room located at 222 West 7th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska 99513–7504, by email at AK_ AKSO_Public_Room@blm.gov, by telephone at 907–271–5960, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. excluding Federal Holidays The Fairbanks Public Room located at 222 University Ave, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709, by email at BLM_AK_FDO_ generaldelivery@blm.gov or by telephone at 907–474–2252 or 2200, Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. excluding Federal Holidays; (c) The following BLM Field Offices: Anchorage Field Office located at 4700 BLM Road, Anchorage, Alaska, by email at blm_ak_afo_general_ delivery@blm.gov, by phone 907–267– 1246, Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. excluding Federal Holidays Glennallen Field Office located at Mile Post 186.5 Glenn Highway, by email at blm_ak_gfo_general_delivery@ blm.gov, by phone 907–822–3217, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. excluding Federal Holidays Nome Field Station located at the U.S. Post Office Building, by phone 907– 443–2177, Monday through Friday excluding Federal holidays; (d) Your local VA office; and (e) Online at the BLM website which gives answers to frequently asked questions and a mapping tool which will show the available Federal lands and provide online tools for identifying and printing your selection: www.blm.gov/ak-native-vietnam-vetland-allotment-2019. § 2569.413 How will I receive notices and decisions? (a) The BLM will provide all notices and decisions by Certified Mail with Return Receipt to your address of record. (b) Where these regulations specify that you must take a certain action within a certain number of days of VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 receiving a notice or decision, the BLM will determine the date on which you received the notice or decision as follows: (i) If you sign the Return Receipt, the date on which you received the notice or decision will be the date on which you signed the Return Receipt. (ii) If the notice or decision is returned as undelivered, or if you refuse to sign the Return Receipt, the BLM will make a second attempt by an alternative method. If the second attempt succeeds in delivering the notice or decision, the BLM will deem the notice or decision to have been received on the date when the notice or decision was delivered according to the mail tracking system. (iii) If the notice or decision is returned as undelivered following the second attempt, the BLM may issue a decision rejecting your application. (c) You have a duty to keep your address up to date. If your mailing address or other contact information changes during the application process, please notify the BLM by mail at the address provided in § 2569.409(a), or by telephone at 907–271–5960. If you notify the BLM by mail, please prominently include the words ‘‘Change of Contact Information’’ in your letter. Processing the Application § 2569.501 What will the BLM do with my application after it is received? After your application is deemed received in accordance with § 2569.411, the BLM will take the following steps: (a) The BLM will enter your selection onto the Master Title Plat (MTP) to make the public aware that the land has been segregated from the public land laws. (b) The BLM will then determine whether the selection includes only available Federal lands or if the selection conflicts with any other applicant’s selection. The BLM will also review its records and aerial imagery to identify, to the extent it can, any valid existing rights that exist within the selection. (c) The BLM may make minor adjustments to the shape and description of your selection to match existing property boundaries, roads, or meanderable waterbodies, or to reduce the number of corners or curved boundary segments. (d) After any adjustments have been made, the BLM will send you a Notice of Survey to inform you of the shape and location of the lands the BLM plans to survey. The Notice of Survey will include: (1) Your original land description; PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 41511 (2) The adjusted land description plotted onto a Topographic Map and a MTP; (3) Imagery of your original land description with the adjusted land description projected onto it; (4) A Draft Plan of Survey; and (5) A list of valid existing rights that the BLM has identified within the selection. (e) The Notice of Survey will provide you an opportunity to challenge, in writing, the Draft Plan of Survey of the adjusted land description within 60 days of receipt of the BLM’s notice. If no challenge is received within 60 days, the BLM will deem the Draft Plan of Survey to have been accepted. (f) The BLM will finalize the Plan of Survey based on the Draft Plan of Survey in the Notice of Survey or the adjustment you provide pursuant to paragraph (e) of this section. (g) The BLM will survey the selection based on the Plan of Survey. (h) After survey, the BLM will mail you a document titled Conformance to Plat of Survey. That document will: (1) Show the selection as actually surveyed; (2) Plot the survey onto imagery; and (3) If you found an error in the way the BLM surveyed the selection based on the Plan of Survey, provide an opportunity to dispute the survey in writing within 60 days of receipt of the Conformance of Plat of Survey. If no notice of dispute is received within 60 days, the BLM will deem the survey to have been accepted. (i) The BLM will issue a Certificate of Allotment. No right or title of any sort will vest in the selection until the Certificate of Allotment is issued. (j) If an application is rejected for any reason, the BLM will remove the corresponding selection from the MTP to make the public aware that the land is no longer segregated from the public land laws. § 2569.502 What if more than one Eligible Individual applies for the same lands? (a) If two or more Eligible Individuals select the same lands, in whole or part, the BLM will: (1) Give preference to the application bearing the earliest receipt date; (2) If two or more applications bear an identical receipt date, and one or more application bears a legible postmark or shipping date, give preference to the application with the earliest postmark or shipping date; or (3) Assign to any applications for the same land that are still tied after the criteria in paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section are applied a number in sequence, and run a random number E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 41512 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules generator to pick the application that will receive preference. (4) For purposes of paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section, an application received, postmarked, or shipped before (EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE) will be deemed to have been received, postmarked, or shipped on (EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE). (b) The BLM will issue a decision to all applicants with conflicting selections setting out the BLM’s determination of preference rights. Applicants who do not have preference must make one of the following choices: (1) Provide the BLM a substitute selection within 60 days of receipt of the BLM’s decision. The substitute selection may consist of either an adjustment to the original selection that avoids the conflict, or a new selection located somewhere else. The substitute selection will be considered a new application for purposes of preference, as set forth in § 2569.411(c), but the applicant will not need to resubmit any portions of the application other than the land description and map; or, (2) If only a portion of the selection is in conflict, the applicant may request that the BLM continue to adjudicate the portion of the selection that is not in conflict. The BLM must receive the request within 60 days of your receipt of the BLM’s decision. Each applicant is are allowed only one selection of land under this act, and will not be allowed to apply for more acreage later. (c) If you receive a decision finding your application does not have preference under paragraph (b) of this section and the BLM does not receive your choice within 60 days of receipt of the notice, the BLM will issue a decision rejecting your application. If your application is rejected, you may file a new application for different lands before the end of the five-year application period. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS § 2569.503 What if my application includes lands that are not available Federal lands? (a) If your selection includes lands that are not available Federal lands, the BLM will issue you a decision informing you of the unavailable land selection and give you the following choices: (1) Provide the BLM a substitute selection within 60 days of your receipt of the decision. The substitute selection may consist of either an adjustment to your original selection that avoids the unavailable lands, or a new selection located somewhere else. Your substitute selection will be considered a new application for purposes of preference, as set forth in § 2569.411(c), but you VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 will not need to resubmit any portions of your application other than the land description and map; or, (2) If only a portion of your selection is unavailable, you may request that the BLM continue to adjudicate the portion of the selection that is within available Federal lands. The BLM must receive your request within 60 days of your receipt of the BLM’s decision. You are allowed only one parcel of land under this act, and you will not be allowed to apply for more acreage later. (b) If you receive a decision finding your selection includes unavailable lands under paragraph (a) of this section and the BLM does not receive your choice within 60 days of receipt of the notice, the BLM will issue a decision rejecting your application. If your application is rejected, you may file a new application for different lands before the end of the five-year application period. § 2569.504 Once I file, can I change my land selection? Once your application is received in accordance with § 2569.411, you will not be allowed to change your selection except as set forth in § 2569.502 or 2569.503. § 2569.505 Does the selection need to be surveyed before I can receive title to it? Yes. The land in your selection must be surveyed before the BLM can convey it to you. The BLM will survey your selection at no charge to you, as set forth in § 2569.501(g). § 2569.506 land? How will the BLM convey the (a) The BLM will issue a Certificate of Allotment which includes language similar to the language found in Certificates of Allotment issued under the Act of May 17, 1906 (34 Stat. 197, chapter 2469), providing that the land conveyed will be deemed the homestead of the allottee and his or her heirs in perpetuity, and will be inalienable and nontaxable until otherwise provided by Congress or until the Secretary of the Interior or his or her delegate approves a deed of conveyance vesting in the purchaser a complete title to the land. (b) The Certificate of Allotment will be issued subject to valid existing rights. (c) The United States will reserve to itself all minerals in the Certificate of Allotment. § 2569.507 What should I do if the Eligible Individual dies or becomes incapacitated during the application process? (a) If an Eligible Individual dies during the application process, another individual may continue the application process as a personal representative of PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the estate of the deceased Eligible Individual by providing to the BLM the materials described in § 2569.404(b)(2). (b) If an Eligible Individual becomes incapacitated during the application process, another individual may continue the application process as a court-appointed guardian or conservator or as an attorney-in-fact for the Eligible Individual by providing to the BLM the materials described in § 2569.404(b)(3) or (4). (c) If a deceased or incapacitated Eligible Individual has received a notice from the BLM that requires a response within 60 days, as described in § 2569.410, 2569.501(e), 2569.501(h)(3), 2569.502(b), or 2569.503(a), and no personal representative, guardian, or conservator has been appointed, or no attorney-in-fact has been designated, the individual who receives the notice, or an employee of the BIA or a Realty Service Provider, may respond to the notice in order to request that the BLM extend the 60-day period to allow for a personal representative, guardian, or conservator to be appointed. The BLM will extend a 60-day period under this paragraph (c) for up to two years. (d) If the BLM has completed a Draft Plan of Survey as described in § 2569.501(d) or a survey as described in § 2569.501(g), and the estate of the deceased Eligible Individual does not wish to dispute the Draft Plan of Survey as described in § 2569.501(e) or the results of the survey as described in § 2569.501(h), then the BLM will not require a personal representative to be appointed. The BLM will continue to process the application and will issue the Certificate of Allotment in the name of the deceased Eligible Individual. (e) Other than as provided in paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of this section, the BLM will not accept any correspondence on behalf of a deceased or incapacitated Eligible Individual from an individual who has not provided the materials described in § 2569.404(b)(2), (3), or (4). Available Federal Lands—General § 2569.601 What lands are available for selection? You may receive title only to lands identified as available Federal land. You can review the available Federal lands on the mapping tool available at www.blm.gov/ak-native-vietnam-vetland-allotment-2019. If you do not have access to the internet, a physical copy of the map of available Federal lands can be requested by either: (a) Calling the BLM Alaska Public Room, the BIA Regional Realty Office or Fairbanks Agency Office, or your local E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Proposed Rules BIA Service Provider. The map will be current as of the date it is printed, and mailed to the mailing address provided at the time of request; or (b) Requesting a physical copy in person at any of the offices listed in this section. § 2569.602 How will the BLM certify that the land is free of known contaminants? The BLM will review land for contamination by using current contaminated site database information in the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation database, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Formerly Used Defense Sites database, the U.S. Air Force database, and the Federal Aviation Administration database, or any equivalent databases if any of these databases are no longer available. Any land found to have possible contamination based on these searches will not be available for selection. § 2569.604 Are lands that are valuable for minerals available? Yes, however, the minerals will be reserved to the United States and will not belong to you. [FR Doc. 2020–13808 Filed 7–9–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–JA–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration § 2569.605 What happens if new lands become available? 50 CFR Part 622 (a) New lands may become available during the application period. As additional lands become available, the BLM will review the lands to determine whether they are free of known contaminants as described in § 2569.602. (b) After review, the BLM will update the online web maps of available Federal lands to include these additional lands during the five-year application period. RIN 0648–BJ76 National Wildlife Refuge System Any Certificate of Allotment for lands within a National Wildlife Refuge will contain provisions that the lands remain subject to the laws and regulations governing the use and development of the Refuge. Appeals § 2569.801 What can I do if I disagree with any of the decisions that are made about my allotment application? a. You may appeal all decisions to the Interior Board of Land Appeals under 43 CFR part 4. b. On appeals of decisions made pursuant to § 2569.502(b): 1. Unless the BLM’s decision is stayed on appeal pursuant to 43 CFR 4.21, the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Shrimp Fishery Off the South Atlantic States; Amendment 11 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Availability of proposed amendment; request for comments. AGENCY: The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 11 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Shrimp Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Shrimp FMP) for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, Amendment 11 to the Shrimp FMP (Amendment 11) would modify the transit provisions for shrimp trawl vessels with brown, pink, and white shrimp on board in Federal waters of the South Atlantic that have been closed to shrimp trawling to protect white shrimp as a result of cold weather events. The purpose of Amendment 11 is to update the regulations to more closely align with current fishing practices, reduce the socio-economic impacts for fishermen who transit these closed areas, and improve safety at sea SUMMARY: § 2569.701 If Congress makes lands available within a National Wildlife Refuge, what additional rules apply? jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS BLM will continue to process the conflicting applications that received preference over your application. 2. Within 60 days of receiving a decision on the appeal, the losing applicant may exercise one of the two options to select a substitute parcel pursuant to § 2569.502(b). c. On appeals of decisions which reject the application or of a decision made pursuant to § 2569.503(a): 1. Unless the BLM’s decision is stayed on appeal pursuant to 43 CFR 4.21, the BLM will lift the segregation of your selection and the land will be available for all future entries. 2. If you win the appeal and the decision was not stayed, your selection will be considered received as of the date of the Interior Board of Land Appeals decision for purposes of preference under § 2569.502(a). PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 41513 while maintaining protection for overwintering white shrimp. DATES: Written comments must be received on or before September 8, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on Amendment 11, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2020–0066,’’ by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20200066, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Frank Helies, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of Amendment 11, which includes a fishery impact statement, a Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ amendment-11-shrimp-trawl-transitprovisions/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Frank Helies, telephone: 727–824–5305, or email: Frank.Helies@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires each regional fishery management council to submit any FMP or FMP amendment to the Secretary of Commerce (the Secretary) for review, and approval, partial approval, or disapproval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that the Secretary, upon receiving an FMP or amendment, publish an announcement in the Federal Register notifying the public that the FMP or amendment is available for review and comment. The Council prepared the Shrimp FMP that is being revised by E:\FR\FM\10JYP1.SGM 10JYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 133 (Friday, July 10, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 41495-41513]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-13808]


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DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

43 CFR Part 2569

[LLAK940000 L14100000.HM0000 20X]
RIN 1004-AE66


Alaska Native Vietnam-Era Veterans Allotments

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior

ACTION:  Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposes to issue 
regulations to enable certain Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans to 
apply for land allotments under Section 1119 of the John D. Dingell, 
Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of March 12, 2019 
(Dingell Act). The Dingell Act requires the BLM to issue regulations to 
implement the Act's land allotment provisions. This proposed rule would 
enable certain Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans who, because of their 
military service, were not able to apply for an allotment during the 
late 1960s and early 1970s to do so now.

DATES:  Please submit comments on this proposed rule to the BLM on or 
before August 10, 2020. The BLM is not obligated to consider any 
comments received after this date in making its decision on the final 
rule.
    The proposed rule includes information collection activities that 
must be approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). If you 
wish to comment on the information collection requirements in this 
proposed rule, please note that the OMB is required to make a decision 
concerning the collection of information contained in this proposed 
rule between 30 and 60 days after publication of this document in the 
Federal Register. Therefore, a comment to the OMB on the proposed 
information collection requirements is best assured of being given full 
consideration if the OMB receives it by August 10, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by 
the number ``RIN 1004-AE66,'' to the BLM by any of the following 
methods:
    --Mail/Personal or Messenger Delivery: U.S. Department of the 
Interior, Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, Mail Stop 2134 LM, 
1849 C St. NW, Washington, DC 20240, Attention: RIN 1004-AE66.
    --Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the 
Searchbox, enter ``RIN 1004-AE66'' and click the ``Search'' button. 
Follow the instructions at this website.

For Comments on Information Collection

    Written comments and suggestions on the information collection 
requirements should be submitted within 30 days of publication of this 
document to www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain. Find this particular 
information collection by selecting ``Currently under 30-day Review--
Open for Public Comments'' or by using the search function.
    Please indicate ``OMB Control Number 1004-XXXX/RIN 1004-AE66,'' 
regardless of the method used to submit comments on the information 
collection burdens. If you submit comments to the OMB on the 
information-collection burdens, you should provide the BLM with a copy, 
at the BLM address provided above, so that all written comments can be 
summarized and addressed in the final rulemaking. Comments not 
pertaining to the proposed rule's information-collection burdens should 
not be submitted to OMB. The BLM is not obligated to consider or 
include in the Administrative Record for the final rule any comments 
that are improperly directed to OMB, rather than the BLM.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
     Paul Krabacher, Division of Lands and Cadastral, Bureau of Land 
Management, 222 West Seventh Avenue, Mail Stop 13, Anchorage, Alaska 
99513-7409; telephone (907) 271-5681, for information relating to the 
substance of this proposed rule. Persons who use a telecommunication 
device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-
877-8339 to leave a message or question with the above individuals. You 
will receive a reply during normal business hours, Alaska time.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Public Comment Procedures
II. Background
III. Discussion of the Proposed Rule
IV. Procedural Matters

I. Public Comment Procedures

    If you wish to comment on the information collection requirements, 
you should send those comments directly to the OMB as outlined under 
the ADDRESSES heading; however, we ask that you also provide a copy of 
those comments to the BLM. You may submit comments on the proposed rule 
itself, marked with the number ``RIN 1004-AE66,'' to the BLM by any of 
the methods described in the ADDRESSES section. Please make your 
comments on

[[Page 41496]]

the proposed rule as specific as possible, confine them to issues 
pertinent to the proposed rule, and explain the reason for any changes 
you recommend. Where possible, your comments should reference the 
specific section or paragraph of the proposal that you are addressing. 
The comments and recommendations that will be most useful and likely to 
influence agency decisions are:
    1. Those supported by quantitative information or studies; and
    2. Those that include citations to, and analyses of, the applicable 
laws and regulations. The BLM is not obligated to consider or include 
in the Administrative Record for the final rule comments that we 
receive after the close of the comment period (see DATES) or comments 
delivered to an address other than those listed above (see ADDRESSES).
    The BLM has determined that a public comment period of 30 days is 
required for this proposed rule, per 318 DM HB 5.4(A). The universe of 
parties who will be affected by this proposed rule is relatively 
limited, and those parties have received notice that this proposed rule 
is being prepared, either through the enactment of the Dingell Act 
itself, or through the BLM's extensive pre-publication outreach 
efforts, or both. At the same time, Section 1119 of the Dingell Act 
requires a final rule to be promulgated by September 12, 2020, which 
cannot be accomplished with a longer comment period. Therefore, the BLM 
concludes that a public comment period of 30 days is adequate for all 
affected parties to provide feedback, and is necessary to comply with 
the statutory directive.
    Before including your address, telephone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that 
your entire comment--including your personal identifying information--
may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in 
your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from 
public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Comments on the proposed rule, including names and street addresses 
of respondents, will be posted as they arrive at the BLM, and will be 
available for public review at http://www.regulations.gov. Enter 
``1004-AE66'' in the Searchbox to find the proposed rule.

II. Background

    On December 18, 1971, Congress enacted the Alaska Native Claims 
Settlement Act (ANCSA; 43 U.S.C. 1601, et seq.), which repealed the 
Alaska Native Allotment Act (34 Stat. 197, as amended). During the time 
leading up to the repeal of the Alaska Native Allotment Act, certain 
Alaska Natives who were eligible to apply for allotments were serving 
in the U.S. military and may have missed their opportunity to apply 
because of their military service.
    In 1998, Congress enacted a law allowing certain Alaska Native 
veterans a new opportunity to apply for allotments under the Alaska 
Native Allotment Act, as it was in effect before its repeal (Alaska 
Native Veterans Allotment Act of 1998; 43 U.S.C. 1629g). Those Alaska 
Native veterans were able to apply for allotments from July 31, 2000 to 
January 31, 2002. Under the Alaska Native Veterans Allotment Act of 
1998, about 250 allotments were issued to Alaska Native veterans or 
their heirs.
    On March 12, 2019, Congress enacted the Dingell Act, in order to 
provide an additional opportunity for Alaska Native veterans who have 
not applied for or received an allotment under prior laws to apply for 
an allotment. Congress required the BLM to issue regulations 
implementing the Dingell Act. This proposed rule would carry out that 
congressional mandate.
    The BLM, in coordination with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), 
consulted with the federally recognized Tribes located in Alaska and 
Alaska Native Corporations, and conducted presentations throughout 
Alaska. The purpose of these meetings was to share information and 
gather input from entities representing Alaska Natives who will be 
impacted by these regulations. Participants included both Native and 
non-Native individuals. Oral comments were recorded at each meeting; 
notes of the meetings, as well as all written comments submitted to the 
BLM at the meetings, are included in the administrative record for this 
rule.

III. Discussion of the Proposed Rule

Sec.  2569.100 What is the purpose of this subpart?

    This section explains why the BLM is promulgating these 
regulations. Specifically, promulgating these regulations is required 
under 43 U.S.C. 1629g-1(b)(2), and will specify the procedures under 
which Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans will be able to select and 
receive lands.

Sec.  2569.101 What is the legal authority for this subpart?

    The legal authority for this subpart is 43 U.S.C. 1629g-1(b)(2).

Sec.  2569.201 What terms do I need to know to understand this subpart?

    This section lays out the definitions that will be needed for the 
reader to fully understand the proposed regulations.
    Allotment. The BLM adopts the definition of allotment from 43 CFR 
2561.0-5, which defined ``allotment'' in the regulations for the Alaska 
Native Allotment Act. The Dingell Act does not specifically provide for 
this definition, but the intent of Congress was to offer Alaska Natives 
who served in the military during the Vietnam era a chance to receive 
an allotment similar to the one that they otherwise could have received 
under the Alaska Native Allotment Act. Additionally, the Dingell Act 
uses a Certificate of Allotment as the conveyance instrument. This 
conveyance instrument was only used in the past for restricted fee and 
trust allotments. As such, the BLM adopts the definition of 
``allotment'' as it has been used for the Certificate of Allotment 
under the Alaska Native Allotment Act and the Alaska Native Veterans 
Allotment Act of 1998. Certificates of Allotment granted under those 
acts include the following recitation: ``[T]he land above-described 
shall be deemed the homestead of the allottee and his heirs in 
perpetuity, and shall be inalienable and nontaxable until otherwise 
provided by Congress or until the Secretary of the Interior or his 
delegate, pursuant to the provision of the said Act of May 17, 1906, as 
amended, approves a deed of conveyance vesting in the purchaser a 
complete title to the land.'' A similar recitation should be used in 
conveyances under the Dingell Act as well to ensure that Alaska Natives 
receiving land under the Dingell Act will receive the same rights as 
those granted to Alaska Natives under the Alaska Native Allotment Act 
and the Alaska Native Veterans Allotment Act of 1998.
    Available Federal Lands. This term incorporates the definition from 
the Dingell Act. In general, ``available Federal land'' is defined as 
vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved public land. Additionally, land 
that has been selected but not conveyed to either the State of Alaska 
or to an Alaska Native Corporation is available as long as the 
selection is voluntarily relinquished. Land that has already been 
conveyed out of Federal ownership is not available. ``Available Federal 
land'' further incorporates the requirement that the land is certified 
as free of known contaminants, a requirement that is found separately 
in the statute.

[[Page 41497]]

    Eligible Individual. This term is used throughout the proposed 
regulations for a Native veteran who is eligible to receive an 
allotment under the Dingell Act, or another person who is eligible to 
receive an allotment on the behalf of such a veteran. 43 U.S.C. 1629g-
1(a)(2) defines such an individual as a Native Veteran who served in 
the Armed Forces between August 5, 1964, and December 31, 1971, and who 
did not receive an allotment under one of the three previous allotment 
statutes specified in the Dingell Act. While the Dingell Act only 
expressly excludes individuals who have already received an allotment 
under one of these three statutes, because the Dingell Act was intended 
to benefit individuals who missed their opportunities to apply under 
these statutes, the proposed regulations also exclude individuals who 
applied under these statutes, but whose applications remain pending.
    Native. The proposed regulations restate the definition from the 
Dingell Act, which in turn uses the definition of Native from the 
ANCSA. As stated in the ANCSA, this definition requires either proof of 
a minimum blood quantum, or else proof that one is a citizen of the 
United States who is regarded as an Alaska Native by the Native village 
or Native group of which one claims to be a member and whose father or 
mother is (or, if deceased, was) regarded as Native by any village or 
group. Additionally, any decision of the Secretary regarding 
eligibility for enrollment is final. As used, this term would include 
all Alaska Natives, including enrolled members of the Metlakatla Indian 
Community, Annette Island Reserve.
    Native Corporation. This term refers to the Alaska Native 
Corporations created pursuant to the ANCSA.
    Realty Service Provider. This term refers to the tribal and 
intertribal organizations that provide Trust Real Estate Services 
pursuant to a contract or compact with the Bureau of Indian Affairs 
(BIA).
    Receipt date. This term is used in the proposed regulations to 
refer to the date on which an application arrives at the BLM Alaska 
State Office. The Receipt Date is used to determine which application 
would receive preference if two or more applications contain 
conflicting selections.
    Segregate. This term is given the same meaning in the proposed 
regulations that it has in the BLM's general land resource management 
regulations. By incorporating this widely used definition, the proposed 
regulations help the reader understand that once an application is 
received, the land selected in that application is removed from the 
operation of the public land laws so no other entity can make a claim 
on that land.
    Selection. This term refers to the lands that an Eligible 
Individual chooses to apply for in an application.
    State. This term means the political entity of the State of Alaska.
    State or Native corporation selected land. This term refers to 
lands that have been selected by, but not conveyed to, the State or a 
Native corporation. This definition helps readers understand that while 
applicants can select from lands that have been selected by the State 
and Native corporations, they may not select lands that have already 
been conveyed to the State or a Native Corporation.
    Valid relinquishment. The Dingell Act allows an Eligible Individual 
to select, and receive from the BLM, lands that have been selected by 
the State or a Native corporation if that entity ``agrees to 
voluntarily relinquish the selection.'' For the relinquishment to be 
valid, the voluntary relinquishment must be signed by either a person 
authorized by a board resolution of the Native corporation or a 
delegated official of the State. A valid relinquishment may be 
conditioned upon the application being accepted and the location of the 
selection being fully established by survey, and may also be 
conditioned upon who receives the land. This provision ensures that 
relinquishments go into effect only at such time as there is certainty 
regarding the location and that the applicant will receive the land.
    Veteran. The proposed regulations incorporate the definition from 
38 U.S.C. 101. The BLM found that attempting to restate all the 
incorporated parts of that definition within the regulations would 
confuse readers. Therefore, the proposed regulations point the reader 
to the statute instead. For purposes of implementing the Dingell Act, 
this definition includes individuals who died in service and who meet 
the other requirements of 38 U.S.C. 101.

Who Is Qualified for an Allotment

Sec.  2569.301 How will the BLM let me know if I am an Eligible 
Individual?

    The BLM has been working with the BIA, the Department of Defense 
(DoD), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to identify Eligible 
Individuals prior to the selection period. Pursuant to the Dingell Act, 
the VA and the DoD provided to the BIA a list of all individuals whose 
records indicated military service during the time period set forth in 
the statute. The BIA compared that list to its list of Alaska Natives 
and removed those individuals who are not Alaska Natives. The BLM 
refined the list further to remove Native Veterans who received an 
allotment or have an application pending under one of the earlier 
statutes listed in the Dingell Act. The BLM would use this list to 
identify individuals that the BLM believes to be Eligible Individuals.
    After the list is created, the BLM would mail letters to all 
individuals included on the list at the most recent addresses on file 
with the VA and BIA. The purpose of this initial letter would be to 
provide additional notice to these individuals of the opportunity to 
apply for an allotment. Being included on this list would not guarantee 
that a person is an Eligible Individual under the Dingell Act, however, 
and therefore, an individual who receives such notice would still be 
required to certify that the statements made on his or her application 
are complete and correct to the best of his or her knowledge and 
belief, including that he or she is an Alaska Native, has not received 
an allotment, meets the definition of a Veteran, and served during 
relevant time period.

Sec.  2569.302 What if I believe I am an Eligible Individual, but I was 
not notified by the BLM?

    This section addresses the information that Eligible Individuals 
who were not identified through the process described above would need 
to provide in order to demonstrate that they are eligible. The BLM 
foresees that there may be individuals who would not be included on the 
list due to errors or inconsistencies in the records at the DoD, the 
VA, or the BIA. This section informs those individuals that in addition 
to the application, they would be required to provide a Certificate of 
Degree of Indian Blood or other documentation from the BIA 
demonstrating that they meet the definition of a Native, and a 
Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (Form DD-214) or 
other documentation from the DOD or VA demonstrating that they meet the 
definition of a Veteran.

Sec.  2569.303 Who may apply for an allotment under this subpart on 
behalf of another person?

    This section explains who may apply on behalf of an Eligible 
Individual who is unable to apply on his or her own behalf. In 
paragraph (a), the BLM addresses how a person could apply on behalf of 
a deceased veteran. The Dingell Act allows for a personal 
representative, ``appointed in the appropriate Alaska State court or

[[Page 41498]]

registrar has qualified,'' to apply on behalf of the estate of a 
deceased Eligible Individual. The BLM understands the term 
``registrar,'' as used in the Dingell Act, to refer to an Alaska State 
court employee who adjudicates informal probates. The phrase ``Alaska 
State court or registrar has qualified'' therefore allows the 
appointment of a personal representative only through the Alaska State 
court system, through either the informal probate process, which is 
adjudicated by the registrar, or the formal process, which is 
adjudicated by a judge. The BLM does not understand the Dingell Act, as 
enacted, to allow for personal representatives to be appointed by a 
Tribal court or an out-of-state court. The apparent intent of the 
statutory language is to ensure that the BLM would not have to decide 
between competing claims of individuals who assert that they are duly 
appointed personal representatives of the same deceased veteran.
    In paragraph (b) of this section, the proposed regulations address 
the situation in which a veteran is alive, but is unable to apply on 
his or her own behalf or chooses to have another person do so. The BLM 
has attempted to be as broad as possible in recognizing the legal 
mechanisms by which a person could legally apply on behalf of a 
veteran. A conservator or guardian is typically appointed by a court 
for a person who is no longer capable of managing his or her affairs. 
Unlike a personal representative, a conservator or guardian need not be 
appointed by an Alaska State court, because the Dingell Act contains no 
such restriction for conservators or guardians. An attorney-in-fact, 
meanwhile, is appointed by the Eligible Individual him- or herself 
before becoming incapacitated. An individual would also be able to 
appoint an attorney-in-fact if the individual is not incapacitated but 
would like to allow the attorney-in-fact to complete the application on 
his or her behalf for some other reason. Commenters are encouraged to 
suggest any other legal mechanisms that may not be captured in this 
paragraph.

Applying for an Allotment

Sec.  2569.401 When can I apply for an allotment under this subpart?

    This section identifies the period during which the BLM would 
accept applications. The application period would begin on the 
effective date of the final regulations and run for a period of 5 
years, as provide in the Dingell Act (43 U.S.C. 1629g-1(b)(3)(B)). 
Under the proposed rules, certain circumstances described in Sec.  
2569.410, 2569.502(b), or 2569.503(a) may require the BLM to request 
more or new information from an applicant who initially filed his or 
her application during the period described in paragraph (a). The BLM 
would continue to accept this information for up to 60 days after the 
information is requested, even after the termination of the 5-year 
period in paragraph (a). The BLM further recognizes that a legal 
representative may need to be appointed to provide the required 
information, and Sec.  2569.507(c) would further extend the time in 
which the BLM could receive this information for two years when needed 
for the applicant or the applicant's heirs to complete that process.

Sec.  2569.402 Do I need to fill out a special application form?

    The proposed regulations would require that applications be 
submitted on a BLM form, ``Alaska Native Vietnam-Era Veteran Land 
Allotment Application,'' under an OMB form number to be assigned when 
OMB approves the collection.

Sec.  2569.403 How do I obtain a copy of the application form?

    The BLM is proposing to directly mail a copy of the application 
form to those persons who have been preliminarily identified as 
Eligible Individuals through the process described in Sec.  2569.301. 
The applications would be mailed to the most recent addresses on file 
with the VA, BIA, and BLM.
    This section also identifies locations where copies of the 
application form would be available for applicants who do not receive 
an application in the mail. Those locations include the BIA, BIA Realty 
Service Provider's offices, BLM Public Rooms located in Anchorage or 
Fairbanks, or on the internet at blm.gov/ak-native-vietnam-vet-land-allotment-2019.

Sec.  2569.404 What must I file with my application form?

    This section identifies the documents that would be necessary to 
file a complete application under various applicant scenarios.
    Paragraph (a) applies to every applicant and explains how the 
applicant would identify the lands they select for their allotment. The 
BLM is attempting to make this process as easy as possible for 
applicants. Therefore, applicants would be asked to provide a map with 
the selection marked on the map. In previous allotment acts, the BLM 
required a legal description. The difficulty of creating the legal 
description created uncertainty for the applicant about what land they 
would receive, and the BLM has determined that the map approach would 
create greater certainty. The BLM intends to provide a mapping tool on 
its website to help applicants identify available Federal lands. The 
BLM intends to keep this map updated with the identified available 
Federal lands throughout the selection period. The applicant would even 
be able to draw their desired selection onto a map using the map tool 
and know they are keeping their description within available Federal 
lands and within the acreage limit.
    The only written requirement would be that the applicant identify 
the section, township, range, and meridian of the selection so that the 
BLM can properly locate the selection. The applicant would be able to 
easily find that information on the mapping tool on the BLM's website 
or ask a Realty Service Provider or the BLM for assistance. The BLM 
would also accept, but not require, any additional information about 
the location that the applicant would like to supply. The regulation 
clarifies that the BLM would defer to the depiction on the map unless 
the applicant specifies that they want the written description to be 
the controlling document.
    In paragraph (b) of this section, the BLM describes the other 
materials that may need to be filed with the application besides the 
selection. Under the proposed regulations, applicants whose names 
appear on the list of individuals believed by the BLM to be Eligible 
Individuals would not have to provide proof of the applicant's military 
service or documentation identifying the applicant as an Alaska Native. 
This information would already have been collected by the DoD, VA, BIA, 
and BLM at the time the list of presumed Eligible Individuals is 
created. As noted above, however, these individuals would still need to 
certify that they meet the requirements for eligibility by signing the 
application form. Those applicants whose names did not appear on the 
list of presumed Eligible Individuals, meanwhile, would need to provide 
proof of their status as a Native Veteran. The documentation 
identifying the applicant as a Native may consist of a Certificate of 
Degree of Indian Blood or of other documentation from the BIA verifying 
that the applicant meets the definition of Alaska Native, such as a 
letter issued by the BIA Alaska Region. The documentation showing 
military service, usually a Form DD-214, would need to demonstrate that 
the applicant served during the period between August 5, 1964, and 
December 31, 1971,

[[Page 41499]]

and was released or discharged in some way other than dishonorably.
    For those persons applying on behalf of another individual or his 
or her estate, the proposed rules also identify the types of proof that 
would be necessary to apply as a personal representative, guardian, 
conservator, or attorney-in-fact. An individual applying as a personal 
representative of a deceased veteran would need to prove that he or she 
had been appointed by an Alaska State Court and that the appointment 
was still in effect. An individual applying on behalf of a living 
veteran as a guardian or conservator would have to provide proof of his 
or her appointment by a court of law. An individual applying as the 
attorney-in-fact for a living veteran would be able to do so as long as 
the power of attorney documentation is legally valid and current, and 
is either a general grant of power-of-attorney, or specifically grants 
the individual either the power to conduct real estate transactions on 
behalf of the veteran, or the specific power to apply for this 
allotment program.
    In paragraph (c), the proposed regulations explain that an 
applicant would be required to certify that the statements in the 
application are true, complete, and correct to the best of their 
knowledge. This section is included to make applicants aware that there 
are serious ramifications if an applicant were to lie on the 
application. A person could be prosecuted pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 1001 
for false statements on the application.

Sec.  2569.405 What are the special provisions that apply to selections 
that include State or Native corporation selected land?

    Under the proposed rules, an applicant could select, in whole or in 
part, land that has been selected by the State or a Native corporation 
but has not yet been conveyed to that entity.
    Lands selected by the State pursuant to the Alaska Statehood Act or 
a Native corporation under the provisions of ANCSA are segregated from 
operation of the public land laws. The Dingell Act allows Eligible 
Individuals to select from these lands even though the lands are 
otherwise segregated from the operation of the public land laws. 
However, in order for BLM to allow such a selection, the State or 
Native corporation would have to choose to make that land available by 
relinquishing its selection.
    Under the proposed regulations, an applicant could request that the 
State or Native corporation relinquish its selection; the proposed 
regulations further provide that the relinquishment could be 
conditioned on the approval of the applicant's application. Applicants 
need to be aware that even if the State or Native corporation could 
relinquish their selection, the law does not require them to do so.
    The relinquishment would have to be in the form of a letter from 
the State or Native corporation, and would have to include either the 
legal description of the parcel the entity is willing to relinquish or 
a copy of the applicant's application with its land description. The 
letter would also have to describe the conditions, if any, for the 
relinquishment. If the relinquishment is by a Native corporation, the 
letter would have to be accompanied by a board resolution authorizing 
the relinquishment and granting the person signing the letter authority 
to do so. If the State or ANCSA selection were being relinquished only 
on behalf of an individual, the relinquishment would have to name the 
individual.
    A conditional relinquishment would become effective when the BLM 
formally accepts the relinquishment, which would occur after the BLM 
has issued a Final Plan of Survey Notice for the application at issue. 
In the case of a conditional relinquishment, if the applicant was 
determined not to be eligible or if the application was rejected on 
other grounds, the relinquishment would be of no effect and the State 
or ANCSA selection would remain in place. The State or Native 
corporation would be notified in the decision rejecting the 
application.
    The BLM also proposes to allow the State or a Native corporation to 
make a blanket conditional relinquishment of certain of its selections, 
which would take effect if any valid application is received for the 
lands at issue. Any selections that are conditionally relinquished in 
this manner would be identified on a map. Such a blanket conditional 
relinquishment would become effective as to a given parcel of land when 
the BLM formally accepts the relinquishment, which would occur after 
the BLM has issued a Final Plan of Survey Notice for an application 
embracing that parcel.
    Paragraph (b) of this section describes a scenario in which a 
Native corporation may not relinquish a selection. Under ANCSA, each 
Native corporation is entitled to receive a certain amount of land. The 
regulation specifies that a relinquishment cannot cause a Native 
corporation to become under-selected. ``Under-selected'' refers to the 
situation where the Native corporation has less land selected than it 
needs to receive in order to fulfill its entitlement under ANCSA. For 
example, if a Native corporation needs to receive 500 acres from the 
BLM to fulfill its entitlement and has 600 acres selected, it cannot 
relinquish 160 acres under these proposed regulations.
    Paragraph (c) of this section defines when the lands would become 
segregated when an applicant applies for State or Native corporation 
selected land. In some cases, land that has been selected by the State 
or a Native corporation is ``top-filed''--that is, another entity has 
expressed its intent to select the same land in the event that the land 
is not conveyed to the first entity. The BLM interprets the Dingell Act 
as expressing Congress's intent to give Eligible Individuals first 
preference to any selections relinquished by the State or Native 
corporations, even if another entity has a ``top-filing'' on those 
lands. In such a case, the regulations would allow the Eligible 
Individual's selection to fall into place as soon as the conditional 
relinquishment is accepted, and would segregate those lands immediately 
from the operation of the public land laws. This would resolve any 
conflict between the applicant and the top-filing entity in favor of 
the applicant.
    Paragraph (d) defines what would happen if the State or Native 
corporation is unable or unwilling to provide a valid relinquishment. 
Applicants need to be aware that even if the State or Native 
corporation could relinquish its selection, the law does not require it 
to do so. In this scenario, the BLM would treat the selection like any 
other selection that includes unavailable land by following the 
procedures laid out at 43 CFR 2569.503.

Sec.  2569.406 What are the rules about the number of parcels and size 
of the parcel for my selection?

    The statute provides that an applicant may select only 1 parcel of 
land ranging in size from 2.5 to 160 acres.

Sec.  2569.407 Is there a limit to how much water frontage my selection 
can include?

    Applications made under these regulations would be subject to 43 
CFR 2094. That subpart establishes a general limitation of 160 rods 
(one half-mile) of water frontage. An application may be submitted for 
a selection that exceeds the 160-rod (one half-mile) limitation, but 
the application would be subject to a determination that the land is 
not needed for a harborage, wharf, or boat landing area, and that a 
waiver would not harm the public interest. If the BLM could not waive 
the 160-rod (one half-mile) limitation, the BLM would issue a

[[Page 41500]]

decision finding the selection includes lands that are not available 
Federal lands, and then follow the procedures set out at Sec.  
2569.503.

Sec.  2569.408 Do I need to pay any fees when I file my application?

    The BLM does not propose to charge any fees in connection with the 
Alaska Native Veterans Allotment Program of 2019.

Sec.  2569.409 Where do I file my application?

    Applications would have to be delivered to the BLM Alaska State 
Office in Anchorage, in person, by mail, or by delivery service. The 
BLM does not propose to accept electronic applications.

Sec.  2569.410 What will the BLM do if it finds a technical error in my 
application?

    If the BLM finds a technical error in an application, it would send 
a notice identifying the error and provide 60 days after receiving the 
notice to correct the error. A ``technical error,'' as referred to in 
this section, includes such matters as a missing portion of the 
application form, a missing signature, or missing materials that would 
be required to be provided along with the application under Sec.  
2569.404-405. Generally, a ``technical error'' is one that the BLM can 
identify relatively easily upon reviewing the application. A 
``technical error'' does not include an application that conflicts with 
an earlier application or that includes lands that are not available 
Federal lands; these scenarios are dealt with separately, in Sec.  
2569.502 or 503, respectively.
    The purpose of the proposed 60-day correction period is to allow 
applicants to correct technical errors without the inconvenience of 
submitting a completely new application package. As noted, any 
corrected or completed application would be deemed received, for 
purposes of preference, on the date that the last correction is 
received.
    Throughout the proposed regulations, the BLM provides the applicant 
60 days to respond to various requests. Because mail delivery can be 
unreliable in some Native villages, the BLM proposes to start the 60-
day response time from the point that the applicant receives the 
decision or notice. Hence, any delay in the mail being received in the 
village would not affect the length of time for his or her reply. The 
BLM is not proposing a period of time longer than 60 days because an 
application is deemed received when BLM receives the last correction, 
so that the benefit to applicants of extending the period beyond 60 
days would be limited.

Sec.  2569.411 When is my application considered received by the BLM?

    Under the proposed rules, an application that is free from 
technical errors and from conflicts with higher-preference applications 
or with unavailable lands would be considered received on the receipt 
date--that is, the date on which the application is physically received 
by the BLM Alaska State Office (see paragraph 2569.02(f)). This means 
that even if the BLM took some time to review an application and 
determine whether the application is free from technical errors, the 
application would not lose preference during that time; once the 
application is reviewed and confirmed to be complete and correct, it 
would receive the preference corresponding to the date on which it was 
physically received.
    The proposed rule clarifies that applications received prior to the 
effective date of the regulations would be deemed received on the 
effective date. This would protect applicants who want to apply on the 
first day of the selection period from being penalized if the mail 
arrives to the BLM sooner than expected, while preserving the integrity 
of the effective date as the start date for the selection process.
    If an application contained a technical error, the BLM would 
provide notice as set forth in Sec.  2569.410 and require the applicant 
to correct the error. The application would then receive the preference 
corresponding to the date on which the corrected application was 
physically received.
    If an application conflicts with higher-preference applications or 
with unavailable lands, the BLM would proceed according to Sec.  
2569.502 (for conflict with higher-preference applications) or 2569.503 
(for conflicts with unavailable lands). In each of those cases, the 
applicant would have the choice to continue with adjudication of those 
portions of his or her selection that are free from conflict, in which 
case the application would receive the preference corresponding to the 
date on which the application was physically received (see Sec. Sec.  
2569.502(b)(2) and 2569.503(a)(2)). On the other hand, if the applicant 
chooses to file a substitute selection in order to adjust the original 
selection or replace it with a new selection altogether, the applicant 
would receive the preference corresponding to the date on which the 
substitute application was physically received (assuming that the 
substitute application is free from technical errors or conflicts).
    The BLM is not proposing to allow corrected, completed, or 
substitute applications to ``relate back'' to the original 
application--that is, to receive the preference date corresponding to 
the date on which the original application was physically received--for 
several reasons. First, the BLM is concerned that if corrected or 
completed applications could relate back to earlier applications, the 
BLM would receive a large number of incomplete, even skeletal, 
``placeholder'' applications at the beginning of the filing period. 
This would unfairly prejudice applicants who take the time to submit 
complete and accurate applications, because the BLM would be unable to 
process those applications until it waits to see whether the applicants 
responsible for the placeholder applications eventually file completed 
and corrected applications within the correction period, and then 
determine whether any of the placeholder applications conflict with the 
later-received applications.
    A second reason for not allowing corrected, completed, or 
substitute applications to relate back to earlier applications is that 
doing this would not prevent unfairness from occurring, but rather 
would shift the potential unfairness to other situations and other 
applicants. Consider, for example, a situation in which Applicant A 
files an application containing a technical error, shortly before 
Applicant B files a complete and correct application that conflicts 
with Applicant A's selection. Under the rules as proposed, Applicant B 
would receive his or her selection, while Applicant A would be required 
to submit a corrected or completed application, and to change his or 
her selection to avoid a conflict with Applicant B's selection. While 
this outcome may seem unfair to Applicant A, who filed an earlier 
application and may have only made a relatively minor technical error, 
the result is that the selection is awarded to the first applicant who 
submitted a complete and correct application for that land.
    By contrast, if Applicant A's corrected or completed application 
were allowed to relate back to the original application, Applicant A 
would eventually receive his or her selection, after correcting all 
technical errors, and Applicant B would lose out. This outcome may seem 
fairer to Applicant A, but it would be arguably unfair to Applicant B, 
the first applicant to submit a complete and correct application for 
that land. Moreover, this scenario could result in a chain reaction in 
which multiple applicants lose out to applications that were submitted 
later in time than their own applications. Consider what happens if 
Applicant B

[[Page 41501]]

submits a substitute application to avoid the conflict with Applicant 
A, which in turn conflicts with the application of Applicant C, who 
submitted a complete and correct application in the interim between 
Applicant B's original and substitute applications. Under the relate-
back approach, Applicant B's substitute selection would relate back to 
his or her original application and would receive preference over 
Applicant C's selection. The result would be that Applicant C, like 
Applicant B, would lose out to an applicant whose complete and correct 
application for the land in question was received after Applicant C's 
own complete and correct application. Moreover, Applicant C would then 
presumably file a substitute application him- or herself, potentially 
continuing the chain reaction.
    For these reasons, the BLM believes that the approach set forth in 
the proposed regulations, which would not allow any new applications to 
relate back to earlier applications, is the fairest and most practical 
approach.

Sec.  2569.412 Where can I go for help with filling out an application?

    The Department of the Interior and the VA have been tasked in the 
Dingell Act with providing assistance in applying for allotments.
    Applicants are encouraged to seek help in filing their 
applications. Applicants should contact their local VA or BIA office. 
In addition, certain tribal and intertribal organizations that are 
registered as BIA Realty Service Providers could also provide 
assistance and information. To find the list of the BIA Realty Service 
Providers, go to https://www.bia.gov/regional-offices/alaska/real-estate-services/tribal-service-providers. The BLM would also have many 
locations where an applicant could receive help. You could contact the 
BLM in person, by email, or by telephone, Monday through Friday, 
excluding Federal holidays. The BLM would not provide legal advice, but 
would answer questions and provide assistance regarding the application 
process.
    An applicant could also get information through the BLM's website 
at www.blm.gov/ak-native-vietnam-vet-land-allotment-2019. This website 
includes frequently asked questions and a mapping tool depicting 
available Federal lands. The mapping tool on the website could be used 
to identify and print selections.

Sec.  2569.413 How will I receive notices and decisions?

    This section describes how the BLM would provide notices and 
decisions and would provide instructions for changing an applicant's 
contact information of record with the BLM after the application 
process has begun. The BLM would mail all decisions and notices related 
to the application to the address of record, and it would be very 
important for the applicant to be able to receive every mailing. This 
section makes it clear it is the applicant's duty to keep their address 
of record up to date.
    The BLM would attempt to deliver all notices and decisions by 
Certified Mail with Return Receipt. If this first attempt fails, the 
BLM would make a second attempt using an alternative method. If the 
second attempt fails, the BLM may issue a decision rejecting the 
application. Generally, the BLM would only issue a decision rejecting 
the application if a second attempt at delivery fails for a notice that 
requires action from the applicant, such as a notice of a decision 
finding that the application did not have preference under section 
Sec.  2569.502.
    The BLM may, in its discretion, call the applicant or contact a 
representative of the applicant's Tribe or Native corporation in order 
to resolve an issue involving undeliverable mail, but would not 
guarantee that it would do so in every case. Applicants should ensure 
that their address of record is kept up to date, and that arrangements 
are made to receive mail at that address at all times. If an applicant 
were to be unavoidably unreachable at some point during the application 
process, the applicant might consider designating a temporary attorney-
in-fact.

Processing the Application

Sec.  2569.501 What will the BLM do with my application after it is 
received?

    This section describes the steps that the BLM proposes to take 
after an application is deemed received, as set forth in Sec.  
2569.411. The full processing of the application would also include a 
review of whether an application is complete under Sec.  2569.410 and 
should be deemed received.
    As stated in paragraph (a), the BLM would enter the land selection 
into the BLM's Master Title Plats (MTPs). MTPs are large scale graphic 
representations of Federal ownership, agency jurisdictions, and rights 
reserved to the Federal Government. MTPs for Alaska are located online 
within the Resources section of the BLM's website at: https://www.blm.gov/programs/lands-and-realty/regional-information/alaska/land-transfer.
    The purpose of this step is primarily informational, to help later 
applicants avoid selecting lands that are subject to an earlier-
received, higher-preference application. Applicants are advised that 
because some time may pass between the date when an application is 
received and the date when the MTP is updated, the fact that certain 
lands are not shown as selected on the MTP would not guarantee that the 
lands are not subject to an earlier-received application, and that 
selecting those lands would not result in a conflict. Additionally, 
inclusion in the MTP would indicate to the general public that the 
lands had been segregated from the public land laws for purposes other 
than allotment selection under the Dingell Act, such as mining claims.
    In paragraph (b) of this section, the BLM would review the 
selection for conflicts with other applications, and for inclusion of 
any lands that are not available Federal lands. If the selection were 
in conflict, or contained unavailable lands, the BLM would proceed as 
described in Sec. Sec.  2569.502 and 2569.503, respectively.
    During this step, the BLM would also review its records to identify 
any valid existing rights within the selection. Any such rights that 
were identified by the BLM would be noted in the Notice of Survey, as 
described in paragraph (d). Applicants should be aware that there may 
be valid existing rights that the BLM does not discover through its 
review. Even if the BLM does not discover those valid existing rights 
on a selection, the conveyance of an allotment under the Dingell Act 
would be made subject to those rights.
    Next, in paragraph (c) of this section, the BLM would make minor 
adjustments to the selection, if needed, in order to match existing 
property boundaries, roads, or meanderable waterbodies, or to reduce 
the number of corners or curved boundary segments. For example, if a 
selection appeared to stop just short of a waterbody or existing 
property boundary, the BLM might adjust the selection to avoid leaving 
a narrow strip outside the selection. Similarly, if the selection 
contained excessive corners or curved segments that did not correspond 
to existing property boundaries or significant natural features, such 
as waterbodies, the BLM might adjust the selection to simplify its 
boundaries. The BLM intends to use this authority sparingly; however, 
such authority is required in order to ensure that the remaining public 
lands outside the selection could be managed efficiently. Moreover, 
many

[[Page 41502]]

of these issues that would be removed through this step are likely to 
be inadvertent, in which case applying this authority would result in 
better property boundaries in the interest of the applicant.
    Next, under paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section, the BLM would 
send the applicant a Notice of Survey, informing the applicant of the 
lands that the BLM planned to survey, and provide the applicant an 
opportunity to challenge the Draft Plan of Survey. This step would 
allow the applicant to notify the BLM of any objections to the BLM's 
exercise of its adjustment authority under paragraph (c), or of any 
errors in the survey plan. Paragraphs (f) and (g) of this section 
specify that the BLM would finalize the Plan of Survey and conduct the 
survey based on that plan.
    Under paragraph (h), the BLM would inform the applicant of the 
survey results by sending him or her a document that shows the land 
surveyed and provide the applicant an opportunity to dispute any errors 
within 60 days.
    Paragraph (i) of this section specifies that the BLM would then 
issue a Certificate of Allotment, as described in Sec.  2569.506. This 
paragraph makes clear that the applicant would not receive title or any 
right to the land until the certificate is issued. This recognizes that 
situations may arise that show the BLM missed something in the 
adjudication process which would preclude issuing a certificate, even 
if it had finished all of the other enumerated steps above, and the 
applicant should not receive any right to the land. The BLM cannot 
convey land if at any point during the process it learns the conveyance 
would not meet the terms of the statute. Therefore, the applicant would 
not hold title to the land or have any rights to use it until he or she 
receives a Certificate of Allotment.
    Finally, under paragraph (j) of this section, the BLM would remove 
the land selection from the MTP if an application is rejected. This 
would make the public aware that the land would be subject to the 
public land laws again.

Sec.  2569.502 What if more than one Eligible Individual applies for 
the same lands?

    It is likely that two or more Eligible Individuals would select the 
same lands, in whole or part, and that the BLM would be required to 
decide which application would be accepted. The Dingell Act provides 
that if two or more Eligible Individuals submit an application for the 
same parcel of available Federal land, the BLM shall ``give preference 
to the selection application received on the earliest date; and . . . 
provide to each Eligible Individual the selection application of whom 
is rejected . . . an opportunity to select a substitute parcel of 
available Federal land.''
    In keeping with the statute, the BLM is proposing that first 
preference would be given to the complete application bearing the 
earliest receipt date. If two or more complete applications bear an 
identical receipt date, and one or more application bears a legible 
postmark or shipping date, then it is proposed that preference would be 
given to the application with the earliest postmark or shipping date. 
If applications for the same land still were tied after reviewing the 
receipt date and postmark or shipping date, the BLM is proposing that a 
number in sequence would be issued to those applications that are still 
tied. The BLM would then run a random number generator to pick the 
application that would receive preference. The BLM would then issue a 
decision to all applicants with conflicting selections with the outcome 
of the BLM's determination of preference rights. An appeal of this 
decision could impact all conflicting applications. The proposed 
regulations specifically address an appeal of this decision at Sec.  
2569.801(b).
    Applicants whose selections were in conflict with another 
application and who did not receive preference according to the methods 
described above would have to make a choice. Within 60 days of receipt 
of the BLM's notice, the applicant could provide the BLM a substitute 
selection that consists of either an adjustment to the original 
selection that avoids the conflict, or a new selection in another 
location. Such a substitute selection would be considered a new 
application, which would be assigned a new receipt date. Under this 
option the applicant would need to submit the new land description and 
a new map but would not need to resubmit any other portions of their 
application.
    Alternately, if only part of the selection were in conflict, the 
applicant could ask the BLM to keep processing the portion of the 
selection that is not in conflict. Under this option, the applicant 
would retain its original receipt date. However, the legislation only 
allows for one parcel of land to be selected and the applicant could 
not apply for more acreage later.
    The applicant would have 60 days to make a choice after receiving 
the BLM's decision. If the applicant did not respond within that time, 
the BLM would issue a decision rejecting the application. The applicant 
could, however, then file a new application before the end of the 
application period.

Sec.  2569.503 What if my application includes lands that are not 
available Federal lands?

    This section addresses what would happen if an applicant's 
selection included lands that were not available Federal lands. While 
the BLM is maintaining a mapping tool to help applicants identify 
available Federal lands, it recognizes that situations may arise where 
the applicant still applies for lands that were not available because 
the land status changed or the BLM later found the lands are not 
vacant. This situation could also arise where an applicant's selection 
is within State or Native corporation selected land and that entity 
refuses to relinquish its selection or the applicant applies for over 
160 rods (one half-mile) worth of shoreline and the BLM could not issue 
a waiver under 43 CFR 2094.2 (see Sec.  2569.407).
    If an applicant's selection included lands that are not available 
Federal lands, the BLM is proposing that it would issue the applicant a 
decision informing the applicant that the lands selected are not 
available. The applicant would then have the same choices he or she 
would have under Sec.  2569.503(b). The applicant could make a 
substitute selection that consists of an adjustment to his or her 
original selection that excludes the lands that are not available, or 
of a new selection in a different area. In either case, the new 
selection would be considered a new application, with a new receipt 
date. The applicant would only need to submit a new land description 
and a new map, however, and would not need to resubmit any other 
portions of his or her application.
    In the alternative, if only part of the applicant's selection is 
unavailable, the applicant could ask the BLM to continue processing the 
part of the selection that was within available Federal lands. The 
applicant would retain the original receipt date but would not be 
allowed to apply for more acreage later, since the Dingell Act only 
allows for one allotment for each Eligible Individual.
    The applicant would have 60 days after receiving the BLM's decision 
to make a choice between these options. After 60 days, if the BLM did 
not receive a response, the application would be rejected. If the 
application were rejected, the applicant could file a new application 
for different lands before the end of the application period

[[Page 41503]]

or appeal the decision, pursuant to Sec.  2569.801.

Sec.  2569.504 Once I file, can I change my land selection?

    Once an application has been received in accordance with Sec.  
2569.411, the applicant could only change his or her land selection if 
it was in conflict with another selection or if the selected land were 
not available Federal land. Allowing an applicant to change his or her 
land selection under other circumstances would require the BLM to 
expend a lot of resources when processing a selection, and may raise 
fairness issues, because the initial selection would segregate the land 
from future applicants selecting that land.

Sec.  2569.505 Does the selection need to be surveyed before I can 
receive title to it?

    Yes. In order to accurately convey selected land, all land would 
have to be surveyed before the BLM could convey it to an Eligible 
Individual. The survey process is described in Sec.  2569.501(g). The 
applicant would not have to pay for the survey.

Sec.  2569.506 How would the BLM convey the land?

    The Act requires the BLM to issue a Certificate of Allotment to 
convey the land. Once the survey process is completed, a Certificate of 
Allotment would be issued to the applicant, or to the heirs of the 
estate of a deceased applicant. All Certificates of Allotment would be 
made subject to any valid existing rights and would reserve all 
minerals to the United States. The Certificate of Allotment is a 
specific type of conveyance instrument that includes a recitation 
similar to that found in Certificates of Allotment issued under the 
Alaska Native Allotment Act, which states: ``The land above-described 
shall be deemed the homestead of the allottee and his or her heirs in 
perpetuity and shall be inalienable and nontaxable until otherwise 
provided by Congress or until the Secretary of the Interior or his or 
her delegate, pursuant to the provision of the Act of May 17, 1906, as 
amended, approves a deed of conveyance vesting in the purchaser a 
complete title to the land.''

Sec.  2569.507 What should I do if the Eligible Individual dies or 
becomes incapacitated during the application process?

    This section deals with situations in which an Eligible Individual 
begins the application process but dies or becomes incapacitated before 
completing the process. In most cases, in order to complete the 
application process, a personal representative (in the case of a 
deceased applicant) or a guardian, conservator, or attorney-in-fact (in 
the case of an incapacitated applicant) would be required to be 
appointed to continue the application process.
    Under paragraphs (a) and (b), the general provisions for an 
individual who dies or becomes incapacitated during the application 
process would be the same as the provisions for an individual who dies 
or becomes incapacitated before the application begins (see Sec.  
2569.303). Specifically, a personal representative, guardian, 
conservator, or attorney-in-fact would be required to provide the 
materials described in Sec.  2569.404(b). Note that an applicant may 
choose to appoint an attorney-in-fact for reasons other than 
incapacitation. In such a case, the applicant should follow the 
instructions in paragraph (b).
    Paragraph (c) deals with the situation in which a deceased or 
incapacitated applicant has been sent a notice or decision from the BLM 
that requires prompt action, but no personal representative, guardian, 
or conservator has been appointed, or no attorney-in-fact has been 
designated. The BLM would allow any individual who receives the notice, 
or an employee of the BIA or a Realty Service Provider, to make a 
request for the application to be held in abeyance while a personal 
representative, guardian, conservator, or an attorney-in-fact is 
appointed. Under these circumstances, after receiving such a request, 
the BLM proposes to extend the time for responding to the BLM notice or 
decision for up to two years in order to allow for such a person to be 
appointed.
    Paragraph (d) of this section deals with two situations in which an 
applicant would be allowed, but not required, to respond to a notice 
from the BLM. If the applicant (or his or her estate) wished to accept 
the BLM's determination, then no further action would be required, and 
no personal representative, guardian, conservator, or attorney-in-fact 
would need to be designated or appointed. Conversely, if the applicant 
(or his or her estate) wished to respond and dispute or take other 
action on the determination, then a personal representative, guardian, 
conservator, or attorney-in-fact would have to be designated or 
appointed, as described above. If the applicant were to die and the 
estate did not appoint a personal representative, as permitted under 
this paragraph, then the Certificate of Allotment would issue in the 
name of the applicant, rather than his or her estate. Paragraph (e) of 
this section clarifies that outside of the circumstances described in 
paragraphs (b), (c), and (d), the BLM would not accept any 
correspondence on behalf of an applicant from any person other than the 
applicant or a duly appointed personal representative, guardian, 
conservator, or attorney-in-fact.

Available Federal Lands--General

Sec.  2569.601 What lands are available for selection?

    The Dingell Act defines the lands that are available to be 
conveyed, and the BLM has no role in determining the lands available 
for selection through these regulations. The BLM is only identifying 
the lands that meet the definition of the Dingell Act. The lands must 
be federally owned lands in Alaska that are vacant, unappropriated, and 
unreserved, and certified as free of known contaminants. Unless 
Congress makes new lands available in the future, these lands are only 
those managed by the BLM. The Dingell Act also makes lands available 
that are selected, but not conveyed to, the State of Alaska or an 
Alaska Native Corporation, but only if the State or Native corporation 
chooses to relinquish its selection. Lands which the BLM cannot certify 
as free of known contaminants under Sec.  2569.602 would also not be 
available.
    The Dingell Act also states the lands cannot be in the right-of-way 
of the Trans Alaska Pipeline; the inner or outer corridor of such a 
right-of-way; withdrawn or acquired for purposes of the Armed Forces; 
under review for a pending right-of-way for a natural gas corridor; 
within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; within a unit of the 
National Forest System; designated as wilderness by Congress; within a 
unit of the National Park System, a National Preserve, or a National 
Monument; within a component of the National Trails System; within a 
component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System; or within the 
National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.
    The BLM maintains an online map identifying the available Federal 
lands that is accessible at www.blm.gov/ak-native-vietnam-vet-land-allotment-2019 or directly at https://arcg.is/1HTrrO. For those without 
access to the internet, a physical copy of the map of available Federal 
lands could be requested by either calling the BLM Alaska Public Room, 
the BIA Regional Realty Office or Fairbanks Agency Office, or your 
local BIA Service Provider, or by requesting a physical copy in person 
at any of the offices listed above under Sec.  2569.412.

[[Page 41504]]

Sec.  2569.602 How will the BLM certify that the land is free of known 
contaminants?

    The BLM would review the databases listed in the regulation for 
contamination reports. If there were information indicating that the 
land is potentially contaminated in any of the databases, the land 
would not be available for selection. The BLM would not be able to 
provide warranty that the land is free from contamination beyond what 
is discernible from these databases.
    Commenters are encouraged to suggest any other sources the BLM 
should review before it certifies the lands as free from contamination.

Sec.  2569.604 Are lands that are valuable for minerals available?

    The BLM can convey an allotment that is valuable for minerals, but 
the ownership of the minerals would remain with the Federal Government.

Sec.  2569.605 What happens if new lands become available?

    If new lands were to become available due to action by Congress or 
otherwise, such as the BLM rejecting over-selections, or the State or 
Native corporations relinquishing over-selections, the BLM would first 
review those lands for any known contamination as described in Sec.  
2569.602. The BLM would then update the map tool at https://arcg.is/1HTrrO and its records to show those additional lands that would become 
available for selection. If an Eligible Individual did not have a 
pending selection, the individual could apply for these newly available 
Federal lands.

National Wildlife Refuge System

Sec.  2569.701 If Congress makes lands available within a National 
Wildlife Refuge, what additional rules apply?

    Currently, no lands are available within National Wildlife Refuges. 
The Dingell Act, however, requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
to conduct a study to determine whether any additional Federal lands 
within units of the National Wildlife Refuge System in the State should 
be made available for allotment selection. If a subsequent act of 
Congress were to make lands available within a Refuge, the Dingell Act 
requires that lands conveyed within a National Wildlife Refuge include 
patent provisions that the land remain subject to the laws and 
regulations governing the use and development of the Refuge.
    If any such lands were made available by Congress, the BLM would 
update the list of available Federal lands as described in Sec.  
2569.605.

Appeals

Sec.  2569.801 What can I do if I disagree with any of the decisions 
that are made about my allotment application?

    If any party is adversely affected by a decision issued by the BLM 
under these regulations, that party may appeal the decision to the 
Interior Board of Land Appeals by filing a notice of appeal in the 
manner set forth in 43 CFR part 4. The appellant would have the burden 
of showing that the decision appealed was in error. Failure to file a 
notice of appeal with the BLM within the time allowed would result in 
dismissal of the appeal. In order to avoid dismissal of the appeal, 
strict compliance with the regulations at 43 CFR part 4 and DOI Form 
1842-1, ``INFORMATION ON TAKING APPEALS TO THE INTERIOR BOARD OF LAND 
APPEALS'' would be required.
    Paragraph (b) of this section addresses appeals of decisions made 
pursuant to Sec.  2569.502(b), when more than one applicant applies for 
the same land. The BLM addresses this topic separately in the 
regulations because the applicant that receives preference for the 
lands could be harmed by the delay caused while a decision is being 
appealed by another applicant. Therefore, unless the BLM's decision 
were stayed on appeal pursuant to 43 CFR 4.21, the BLM would continue 
to process the application that received preference, and any substitute 
selection made by the applicant who did not receive preference. This 
approach is consistent with 43 CFR 4.21(a)(2), which states, ``A 
decision will become effective on the day after the expiration of the 
time during which a person adversely affected may file a notice of 
appeal unless a petition for a stay pending appeal is filed together 
with a timely notice of appeal.'' A Petition for Stay, which must occur 
early in the process, requires the appellant to demonstrate he or she 
has a reasonable likelihood to win on the merits. If the appellant 
could not show a likelihood to win on the merits, the Board would not 
stay the decision and the BLM would continue to process the application 
of the applicant with preference, and potentially convey the land 
despite the ongoing appeal. This provision also makes it clear that the 
losing party would still have the right to select a substitute parcel 
following the appeal.
    Paragraph (c) of this section similarly informs a potential 
appellant that the lands included in his or her selection would become 
available for all future entries, such as another allotment application 
or a mining claim, if the decision rejecting his or her application 
were not stayed. A Petition for Stay, which must occur early in the 
process, would require the appellant to demonstrate that he or she has 
a reasonable likelihood to win on the merits. If the appellant could 
not show a likelihood to win on the merits, the BLM would not continue 
to segregate the land from future entries. This paragraph also informs 
the applicant that he or she would lose the preference right if he or 
she is not granted a stay, even if he or she wins his appeal. This 
would ensure that a later applicant who believed the land was open for 
entry due to the BLM lifting the segregation did not lose his or her 
selection when the appeal was decided. It would be inequitable for a 
good faith applicant to lose his or her rights to the land where the 
appellant could protect his rights by filing a Petition for Stay.

IV. Procedural Matters

Regulatory Planning and Review Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 provides that the Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and 
Budget will review all significant rules. These draft regulations are 
not a significant regulatory action and are not subject to review by 
the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866.
    E.O. 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while calling for 
improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote 
predictability, reduce uncertainty, and use the best, most innovative, 
and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The E.O. 
directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens 
and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where 
these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory 
objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further that regulations must be 
based on the best available science and that the rule-making process 
must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We 
have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these 
requirements.
    These draft regulations would not have an effect of $100 million or 
more on the economy and will not adversely affect in a material way the 
economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the 
environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal 
governments or communities. The effect of these draft regulations

[[Page 41505]]

would be on a limited number of individuals who are qualified to apply 
for allotments and on the Interior Department agencies responsible for 
administering the allotment program. The allotment application period 
is limited by law to 5 years. The regulations create simple 
adjudication tasks for BLM staff to implement the Dingell Act.
    For more detailed information, see the Regulatory Impact Analysis 
(RIA) prepared for this proposed rule. The RIA has been posted in the 
docket for the proposed rule on the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. In the Searchbox, enter ``RIN1004-AE66,'' click 
the ``Search'' button, open the Docket Folder, and look under 
Supporting Documents.

Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs (E.O. 13771)

    This rule is not a significant regulatory action under E.O. 12866, 
and therefore is not considered an E.O. 13771 regulatory action.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Congress enacted the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended 
(5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), to ensure that Government regulations do not 
unnecessarily or disproportionately burden small entities. The RFA 
requires a regulatory flexibility analysis if a rule would have a 
significant economic impact, either detrimental or beneficial, on a 
substantial number of small entities. This proposed rule would apply 
only to certain Alaska Native veterans eligible to apply for allotments 
and applies only to Alaska Native veterans as individuals. Therefore, 
the Department of the Interior certifies that this document would not 
have any significant impacts on small entities under the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA)

    This rule is not a major rule under the Small Business Regulatory 
Enforcement Fairness Act (5 U.S.C. 804(2)). This rule:
    (a) Will not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million 
or more.
    (b) Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government 
agencies, or geographic regions.
    (c) Will not have significant adverse effects on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of 
U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.
    The BLM is proposing regulations to implement Section 1119 of the 
Dingell Act, which provides an additional opportunity for Alaska Native 
veterans who have not applied for or received allotments under prior 
laws to apply for allotments. This rule will have no significant 
economic impact. This rule will specify the procedures under which 
applications for allotments under Section 1119 of the Dingell Act are 
submitted and processed. Processing of these applications by the BLM 
will result in the transfer of lands selected by veterans from the 
Federal Government to the veterans, as required by Congress. Submitting 
and processing these applications will result in minor costs to the 
applicants and to the government.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    This proposed rule would not impose an unfunded mandate on State, 
local, tribal governments, or the private sector of more than $100 
million per year. The rule does not have a significant or unique effect 
on State, local, or tribal governments, or the private sector. A 
statement containing the information required by the Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) is not required.

Takings (E.O. 12630)

    This proposed rule would not affect a taking of private property or 
otherwise have taking implications under E.O. 12630. Section 2(a) of 
E.O. 12630 identifies policies that do not have takings implications, 
such as those that abolish regulations, discontinue governmental 
programs, or modify regulations in a manner that lessens interference 
with the use of private property.
    Under the proposed rules, lands selected by an applicant must be 
federally owned lands in the State of Alaska that are vacant, 
unappropriated, and unreserved. An applicant may select, in whole or in 
part, land that has been selected by the State or a Native corporation, 
but has not yet been conveyed to that entity; however, the State or 
Native corporation must choose to make that land available by 
relinquishing their selection.
    The proposed rule would not affect private property rights. A 
takings implication assessment is not required.

Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    Under the criteria in section 1 of Executive Order 13132, this rule 
does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the 
preparation of a federalism summary impact statement.
    A federalism assessment is not required because the rule would not 
have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship 
between the national government and the States, or on the distribution 
of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    This proposed rule complies with the requirements of Executive 
Order 12988. Specifically, this proposed rule:
    (a) Meets the criteria of section 3(a) requiring that all 
regulations be reviewed to eliminate errors and ambiguity and be 
written to minimize litigation; and
    (b) Meets the criteria of section 3(b)(2) requiring that all 
regulations be written in clear language and contain clear legal 
standards.

Consultation With Indian Tribes (Executive Order 13175 and Departmental 
Policy)

    The Department of the Interior strives to strengthen its government 
to-government relationship with Indian tribes through a commitment to 
consultation with Indian tribes and recognition of their right to self-
governance and tribal sovereignty. This proposed rule complies with the 
requirements of Executive Order 13175 and Department of the Interior 
Secretarial Order 3317. Specifically, while preparing this proposed 
rule, the BLM initiated consultation with potentially affected tribes. 
Examples of consultation to date include written correspondence, and 
meetings and discussions about objectives of this rulemaking effort 
with representatives of tribal governments.

Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

    This proposed rule contains new information collections. All 
information collections require approval under the Paperwork Reduction 
Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). We may not conduct or sponsor and 
you are not required to respond to a collection of information unless 
it displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
control number.
    The information collection requirements identified below associated 
with the Alaska Native Vietnam Veteran Land Allotment Program require 
approval by OMB:
    (1) Provide Proof of Eligibility (43 CFR 2569.302)--Section 
2569.302 would allow individuals who believe that they are eligible to 
participate in the program, but who have not been automatically 
notified by the BLM that they are eligible, to apply for an allotment. 
Such individuals would be

[[Page 41506]]

required to provide with their application supporting documents to 
prove they are eligible, such as a Certificate of Degree of Indian 
Blood, and a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (Form 
DD-214).
    (2) Appointment of Personal Representative/Guardian/Attorney-in-
fact (43 CFR 2569.303 and 2569.404)--Section 2569.303 would allow 
another person to apply for an allotment on behalf of an Eligible 
Individual. A personal representative of the estate of an Eligible 
Individual could apply for an allotment for the benefit of the estate. 
The personal representative must be appointed in an appropriate Alaska 
State court by either a judge in the formal probate process or the 
registrar in the informal probate process. A court-appointed guardian 
or conservator or an attorney-in-fact of an Eligible Individual could 
apply for an allotment for the benefit of the Eligible individual. 
Similarly, under Sec.  2569.507 if an applicant dies or becomes 
incapacitated before completing the application process, a personal 
representative, guardian, conservator, or attorney-in-fact could be 
appointed to continue to represent the applicant or the applicant's 
estate.
    Section 2569.404 identifies the information and documents that 
applicants would be required to include on their initial application 
form under various applicant scenarios. This form would collect basic 
contact information, along with the Eligible Individual's date of 
birth, and:
     A map showing the location of the requested allotment, 
along with a written description of the land requested. The BLM will 
provide an internet-based mapping tool with the identified available 
Federal lands;
     Appropriate documentation proving that the Eligible 
Individual is an Alaska Native;
     Appropriate documentation proving that the Eligible 
Individual is a Veteran who served during the Vietnam Conflict (between 
August 5, 1964, and December 31, 1971).
     If applicable, documentation from an Alaska State Court 
that shows that a personal representative, guardian/conservator, or 
attorney-in-fact is authorized to file the application or pursue an 
already-filed application on behalf of the Eligible Individual or his/
her estate.
    If additional time is needed for the applicant or the applicant's 
heirs to arrange for a personal representative, guardian, conservator, 
or attorney-in-fact to be appointed, the BLM would allow the applicant, 
an employee of the BIA, or a Realty Service Provider to request that 
the application be held in abeyance for 2 years.
    Note: With regard to the application process, section 2569.407 
specifies that if an applicant's selection contains more than 160 rods 
(one-half mile) of water frontage, the BLM will automatically request 
the Secretary to waive the 160-rod limitation contained in Section 1 of 
the Act of May 14, 1898 (48 U.S.C. 371).
    (3) Request for 2-year Extension of Application Deadline (43 CFR 
2569.401 and 2569.507)--Section 2569.401 would set a 5-year deadline 
for Eligible Individuals, their heirs, or representatives to submit 
initial applications. In the case of those who submit applications that 
are incorrect, incomplete, or conflict with other selections, Eligible 
Individuals would have 60 days after the BLM notifies them of these 
defects to submit corrected, completed, or substitute applications. 
This period may be extended for up to 2 years in order to allow a 
personal representative, guardian, conservator, or attorney-in-fact to 
be appointed. (see Sec. Sec.  2569.410, 2569.502, and 2569.503) (This 
two-year extension language appears in both 2569.401(b) and 2569.507(c) 
reg text. The preamble in the proposed rule discusses the two-year 
extension under the 2569.401 discussion and includes the .507(c) 
citation.)
    (4) Allotment Application--Form BLM No. AK-2469 (43 CFR 2569.402 
and 2569.404)--Section 2569.402 would require applicants to fill out 
and sign an application form (BLM No. AK-2569). The requirements 
associated with 2569.404 are specified above.
    Section 2569.403 would require the BLM to directly mail a copy of 
the application form to those persons who have been preliminarily 
identified as Eligible Individuals through the process described in 
Sec.  2569.301. The applications would be mailed to the most recent 
addresses on file with the VA, BIA, and the BLM. This section also 
identifies locations where copies of the application form would be 
available for applicants who do not receive an application in the mail.
    (5) Multiple App Applications That Include Selected State and 
Native Corporation Lands (43 CFR 2569.405)--If an applicant requests 
land previously selected by, but not yet conveyed by the Federal 
Government to the State or a Native corporation, the applicant, or the 
BLM acting on behalf of the applicant, could request that the State or 
Native Corporation relinquish the land to the applicant. This 
relinquishment would be conditioned upon the applicant successfully 
completing the application process. In conjunction with this 
rulemaking, the BLM anticipates that the State and Native corporations 
would also issue blanket conditional relinquishments of certain 
selected unconveyed lands. These blanket relinquishments also would 
take effect only if valid applications for these lands are successfully 
completed.
    Upon receipt of an application requesting State or Native 
Corporation selected, unconveyed lands, if the application does not 
include a relinquishment request from either the State or Naive 
Corporation, the BLM would automatically request such relinquishment on 
behalf of the applicant. The BLM must receive a valid relinquishment 
from the State or Native Corporation, agreeing to relinquish the land 
to the applicant before approving the application. Following existing 
Alaska Conveyance Program policy, the relinquishment would be in the 
form of a letter from the State or Native Corporation, and must include 
the legal description of the parcel the entity is willing to 
relinquish. The letter must also describe the conditions, if any, for 
the relinquishment. If the relinquishment is by a Native corporation, 
the letter must be accompanied by a board resolution authorizing the 
relinquishment and granting the person signing the letter authority to 
do so.
    If an application requests land covered by a blanket State or 
Native corporation relinquishment, a relinquishment letter and a Native 
corporation board resolution would not be required.
    (6) Correcting Technical Errors on Applications (43 CFR 2569.410)--
If the BLM finds a technical error in an application, such as an 
incomplete or unsigned application, it would notify the applicant. The 
applicant would then have 60 days after receiving notification to 
correct the error.
    (7) Correcting Errors in Survey-related Documents (43 CFR 
2569.501)--After receiving an application, reviewing the legal 
description of the land requested, and making minor boundary 
adjustments, if needed, the BLM would send the applicant a Notice of 
Survey, informing the applicant of the shape and location of the lands 
the BLM planned to survey. The applicant would have an opportunity to 
challenge, in writing, the draft Plan of Survey within 60 days of 
receipt of the BLM's notice.
    (8) Substitute Selections--Multiple Applications on Same Lands (43 
CFR 2569.502)--If two or more Eligible Individuals select the same 
lands, in whole or in part, the BLM would decide which application 
would be given preference based on either submission

[[Page 41507]]

dates and times, or a lottery. The non-preferred applicants could, 
within 60 days of receipt of the BLM's decision, either provide the BLM 
a new substitute selection or request that the BLM continue to 
adjudicate the non-conflicting portion of the selection.
    If a non-preferred applicant does not respond to the BLM's decision 
within 60 days, the BLM would reject the application and the Eligible 
Individual could file a new application for different lands before the 
end of the five-year program. Upon completion of the survey, the BLM 
would mail the applicant a document titled Conformance to Plat of 
Survey. If the applicant found an error in the way the BLM surveyed the 
land, based on the Plan of Survey, the applicant could dispute the 
survey in writing within 60 days of receipt of the Conformance of Plat 
of Survey.
    (9) Substitute Selections and Requests for Partial Adjudication 
(2569.502 and 43 CFR 2569.503)--If an Eligible Individual's selection 
includes lands that are not available Federal lands, the BLM would 
issue a decision informing the applicant that the land is unavailable. 
The applicant could, within 60 days of receipt of the BLM's decision 
either provide the BLM a new substitute selection or request that the 
BLM continue to adjudicate the portion of the selection that is within 
available Federal lands.
    If the applicant fails to respond within 60 days of receipt of the 
BLM's decision, the BLM will reject the initial application and the 
Eligible Individual could file a new application for different lands 
before the end of the five-year application period.
    (10) Appeals of BLM Decisions (43 CFR 2569.502, 2569.503, and 
2569.801)--Applicants would be allowed to appeal any of the BLM's 
decisions regarding their applications to the Interior Board of Land 
Appeals as provided for under 43 CFR part 4. If the applicant is a non-
preferred applicant under proposed 43 CFR 2569.502, the losing 
applicant could select a substitute parcel under proposed Sec.  
2569.502(b).
    Title of Collection: Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land 
Allotment.
    OMB Control Number: 1004-New.
    Form Number: None.
    Type of Review: New.
    Respondents/Affected Public: Individuals and State/Local/Tribal 
governments.
    Respondent's Obligation: Required to Obtain or Retain a Benefit.
    Frequency of Collection: On occasion.
    Estimated Annual Nonhour Burden Cost: $55,000 (associated with 
court fees and miscellaneous expenses).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Estimated       Estimated       Estimated
                           Requirement                            annual  number   annual  hours   total annual
                                                                   of responses    per response   burden hours *
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Provide Proof of Eligibility (43 CFR 2569.302)
    Individuals/Households......................................              50               2             100
Appointment of Personal Representative/Guardian/Attorney-in-fact
 (43 CFR 2569.303 and .404)
    Individuals/Households......................................             200             2.5             500
Request for 2-year Extension of Application Deadline (43 CFR
 2569.401 and 2569.507)
    Individuals/Households......................................              20              .5              10
Allotment Application (43 CFR 2569.402 and 2569.404
    Individuals/Households......................................             500             4.5           2,250
State/Native Corporation Relinquishments (43 CFR 2569.405)
    State/Local/Tribal Governments..............................              75               2             150
Correcting Technical Errors on Applications (43 CFR 2569.410)
    Individuals/Households......................................             175               2             350
Correcting Errors in Survey-related Documents (43 CFR 2569.501)
    Individuals/Households......................................              20               2              40
Substitute Selections--Multiple Applications on Same Lands (43
 CFR 2569.502)
    Individuals/Households......................................             150               2             300
Substitute Selections and Requests for Partial Adjudication
 (2569.502 and 43 CFR 2569.503)
    Individuals/Households......................................              15              .5               8
Appeals of BLM Decisions (43 CFR 2569.502, 2569.503, 2569.801)
    Individuals/Households......................................              60               2             120
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
        Totals..................................................           1,265  ..............           3,828
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Rounded.

    As part of our continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent 
burdens, we invite the public and other Federal agencies to comment on 
any aspect of this information collection, including:
    (1) Whether or not the collection of information is necessary for 
the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including 
whether or not the information will have practical utility;
    (2) The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this collection 
of information, including the validity of the methodology and 
assumptions used;
    (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and
    (4) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on 
those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate 
automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection 
techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting 
electronic submission of response.
    Send your comments and suggestions on this information collection 
by the date indicated in the DATES section to the Desk Officer for the 
Department of the Interior at OMB-OIRA at (202) 395-5806 (fax) or 
[email protected] (email). Please indicate ``Attention: OMB 
Control Number 1004-AE66'' regardless of the method used to submit 
comments on the information collection burdens. If you submit comments 
on the information-collection burdens, you should provide the BLM with 
a copy, at one of the addresses shown earlier in this section, so that 
we can summarize all written comments and address them in the final 
rulemaking. Comments not pertaining to

[[Page 41508]]

the proposed rule's information-collection burdens should not be 
submitted to OMB. The BLM is not obligated to consider or include in 
the Administrative Record for the final rule any comments that are 
improperly directed to OMB. You may view the information collection 
request(s) at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The BLM does not believe this proposed rule would constitute a 
major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human 
environment, and has prepared preliminary documentation to this effect, 
explaining that a detailed statement under the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) would not be required because the proposed rule is 
categorically excluded from NEPA review. This proposed rule would be 
excluded from the requirement to prepare a detailed statement because, 
as proposed, it would be a regulation entirely procedural in nature. 
(For further information see 43 CFR 46.210(i)). We have also 
determined, as a preliminary matter, that the proposed rule does not 
involve any of the extraordinary circumstances listed in 43 CFR 46.215 
that would require further analysis under NEPA.
    Documentation of the proposed reliance upon a categorical exclusion 
has been prepared and is available for public review with the other 
supporting documents for this proposed rule.

Effects on the Energy Supply (Executive Order 13211)

    This rule is not a significant energy action under the definition 
in E.O. 13211. Therefore, a Statement of Energy Effects is not 
required.

Clarity of This Regulation

    We are required by E.O.s 12866 (section 1(b)(12)), 12988 (section 
3(b)(1)(B)), and 13563 (section 1(a)), and by the Presidential 
Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This 
means that each rule we publish must:
    (a) Be logically organized;
    (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (c) Use common, everyday words and clear language rather than 
jargon;
    (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you believe that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To 
better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections 
or paragraphs that you find unclear, which sections or sentences are 
too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, 
etc.

Author

    The principal authors of this proposed rule are: Paul Krabacher and 
Candy Grimes, Division of Lands and Cadastral Survey; assisted by the 
Office of the Solicitor.

Casey Hammond,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Exercising the Authority of the 
Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management.

List of Subjects in 43 CFR Part 2560

    Alaska, Homesteads, Indian-lands, Public lands-sale, and Reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, the BLM proposes to amend 
43 CFR part 2560 as follows:

0
1. The authority citation for part 2560 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  43 U.S.C. 1201, 1740.

0
2. Add subpart 2569 to read as follows:
Subpart 2569--Alaska Native Vietnam-Era Veterans Land Allotments

Sec.

General Provisions

2569.100 What is the purpose of this subpart?
2569.101 What is the legal authority for this subpart?
2569.201 What terms do I need to know to understand this subpart?

Who is Qualified for an Allotment

2569.301 How will the BLM let me know if I am an Eligible 
Individual?
2569.302 What if I believe I am an Eligible Individual, but I was 
not notified by the BLM?
2659.303 Who may apply for an allotment under this subpart on behalf 
of another person?

Applying for an Allotment

2569.401 When can I apply for an allotment under this subpart?
2569.402 Do I need to fill out a special application form?
2569.403 How do I obtain a copy of the application form?
2569.404 What must I file with my application form?
2569.405 What are the special provisions that apply to selections 
that include State or Native corporation selected land?
2569.406 What are the rules about the number of parcels and size of 
the parcel for my selection?
2569.407 Is there a limit to how much water frontage my selection 
can include?
2569.408 Do I need to pay any fees when I file my application?
2569.409 Where do I file my application?
2569.410 What will the BLM do if it finds a technical error in my 
application?
2569.411 When is my application considered received by the BLM?
2569.412 Where can I go for help with filling out an application?
2569.413 How will I receive notices and decisions?

Processing the Application

2569.501 What will the BLM do with my application after it is 
received?
2569.502 What if more than one Eligible Individual applies for the 
same lands?
2569.503 What if my application includes lands that are not 
available Federal lands?
2569.504 Once I file, can I change my land selection?
2569.505 Does the selection need to be surveyed before I can receive 
title to it?
2569.506 How will the BLM convey the land?
2569.507 What should I do if the Eligible Individual has died or 
become incapacitated during the application process?

Available Federal Lands--General

2569.601 What lands are available for selection?
2569.602 How will the BLM certify that the land is free of known 
contamination?
2569.604 Are lands that are valuable for minerals available?
2569.605 What happens if new lands become available?

National Wildlife Refuge System

2569.701 If Congress makes lands available within a National 
Wildlife Refuge, what additional rules apply?

Appeals

2569.801 What can I do if I disagree with any of the decisions that 
are made about my allotment application?

    Authority:  43 U.S.C. 1629g-1(b)(2).

Subpart 2569--Alaska Native Vietnam-Era Veterans Land Allotments

General Provisions


Sec.  2569.100   What is the purpose of this subpart?

    The purpose of this subpart is to implement Section 1119 of the 
John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 
March 12, 2019, Public Law 116-9, codified at 43 U.S.C. 1629g-1, which 
allows Eligible Individuals to receive an allotment of a single parcel 
of available Federal lands in Alaska containing not less than 2.5 acres 
and not more than 160 acres


Sec.  2569.101   What is the legal authority for this subpart?

    43 U.S.C. 1629g-1(b)(2).

[[Page 41509]]

Sec.  2569.201   What terms do I need to know to understand this 
subpart?

    Allotment is an allocation to an Alaska Native of land which shall 
be deemed the homestead of the allottee and his or her heirs in 
perpetuity, and shall be inalienable and nontaxable except as otherwise 
provided by the Congress;
    Available Federal lands means land in Alaska that meets the 
requirements of 43 U.S.C. 1629g-1(a)(1) and that the BLM has certified 
to be free of known contamination;
    Eligible Individual means a Native Veteran who meets the 
qualifications listed in 43 U.S.C. 1629g-1(a)(2), and does not have a 
pending application and has not already received an allotment pursuant 
to the Act of May 17, 1906 (34 Stat. 197, chapter 2469) (as in effect 
on December 17, 1971); or section 14(h)(5) of the Alaska Native Claims 
Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1613(h)(5)); or section 41 of the Alaska 
Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1629g);
    Native means a person who meets the qualifications listed in 
section 3(b) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 
1602(b));
    Native corporation means a regional corporation or village 
corporation as defined in sections 3(g) and (j) of the Alaska Native 
Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1602);
    Realty Service Provider means a Public Law 93-638 ``Contract'' or 
Public Law 103-413 ``Compact'' Tribe or Tribal organization that 
provides Trust Real Estate Services for the Bureau of Indian Affairs;
    Receipt date means the date on which an application for an 
allotment is physically received by the BLM Alaska State Office, 
whether the application is delivered by hand, by mail, or by delivery 
service;
    Segregate has the same meaning as in 43 CFR 2091.0-5(b);
    Selection means an area of land that has been identified in an 
application for an allotment under this part;
    State means the State of Alaska;
    State or Native corporation selected land means land that is 
selected, as of the receipt date of the allotment application, by the 
State of Alaska under the Statehood Act of July 7, 1958, Public Law 85-
508, 72 Stat. 339, as amended, or the Alaska National Interest Lands 
Conservation Act (ANILCA) of December 2, 1980, 94 Stat. 2371, or by a 
Native corporation under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 
December 18, 1971, 43 U.S.C. 1611 and 1613, and that has not been 
conveyed to the State or Native corporation;
    Valid relinquishment means a signed document from a person 
authorized by a board resolution from a Native corporation or the State 
that terminates its rights, title and interest in a specific area of 
Native corporation or State selected land. A relinquishment may be 
conditioned upon conformance of a selection to the Plat of Survey and 
the identity of the individual applicant; and
    Veteran means a person who meets the qualifications listed in 38 
U.S.C. 101(2) and served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine 
Corps, or Coast Guard, including the reserve components thereof, during 
the period between August 5, 1964, and December 31, 1971.

Who Is Qualified for an Allotment


Sec.  2569.301   How will the BLM let me know if I am an Eligible 
Individual?

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in consultation with the 
Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 
and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), has identified individuals whom 
it believes to be Eligible Individuals. If the BLM identifies you as a 
presumed Eligible Individual, it will inform you by letter at your last 
address of record with the BIA or the VA. Even if you are identified as 
presumptively eligible, you still must certify in the application that 
you do meet the criteria of the Dingell Act.


Sec.  2569.302   What if I believe I am an Eligible Individual, but I 
was not notified by the BLM?

    If the BLM has not notified you that it believes that you are an 
Eligible Individual, you may still apply for an allotment under this 
subpart. However, as described in Sec.  2569.404(b), you will need to 
provide evidence with your application that you are an Eligible 
Individual. Supporting evidence with your application must include:
    (a) A Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood or other documentation 
from the BIA to verify you meet the definition of Native; and
    (b) A Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (Form 
DD-214) or other documentation from DoD to verify your military 
service.


Sec.  2569.303   Who may apply for an allotment under this subpart on 
behalf of another person?

    (a) A personal representative of the estate of an Eligible 
Individual may apply for an allotment for the benefit of the estate. 
The personal representative must be appointed in an appropriate Alaska 
State court by either a judge in the formal probate process or the 
registrar in the informal probate process. The Certificate of Allotment 
will be issued in the name of the heirs, devisees, and/or assigns of 
the deceased Eligible Individual.
    (b) A court-appointed guardian or conservator or an attorney-in-
fact of an Eligible Individual may apply for an allotment for the 
benefit of the Eligible individual. The Certificate of Allotment will 
be issued in the name of the Eligible Individual.

Applying for an Allotment


Sec.  2569.401   When can I apply for an allotment under this subpart?

    (a) You can apply between [EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE] and 
[DATE 5 YEARS AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE].
    (b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section, in the case of a 
corrected or completed application or of an application for a 
substitute selection for resolution of a conflict or an unavailable 
land selection, you can submit a corrected, completed, or substitute 
application within 60 days of receiving the notice described in Sec.  
2569.410, 2569.502(b), or 2569.503(a), respectively. This period may be 
extended for up to two years in order to allow a personal 
representative, guardian, conservator, or attorney-in-fact to be 
appointed, as provided in Sec.  2569.507(c).
    (c) Except as set forth in paragraph (b) of this section, the BLM 
will issue a decision rejecting any application received after [DATE 5 
YEARS AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE].


Sec.  2569.402   Do I need to fill out a special application form?

    Yes. You must complete and sign BLM Form No. AK-2569-[OMB NUMBER], 
``Alaska Native Vietnam-Era Veteran Land Allotment Application.''


Sec.  2569.403   How do I obtain a copy of the application form?

    The BLM will mail you an application form if you are determined to 
be an Eligible Individual under Sec.  2569.301. If you do not receive 
an application in the mail, you can also obtain the form at the BIA, a 
BIA Realty Service Provider's office, the BLM Public Room, or on the 
internet at www.blm.gov/ak-native-vietnam-vet-land-allotment-2019.


Sec.  2569.404   What must I file with my application form?

    (a) You must include the following along with your signed 
application form:
    (1) A map showing the selection you are applying for:

[[Page 41510]]

    (i) Your selection must be drawn on a map in sufficient detail to 
locate the selection on the ground.
    (ii) You must draw your selection on a map that is either a 
topographic map or a printout of a map that shows the section lines 
from the BLM mapping tool, available at www.blm.gov/ak-native-vietnam-vet-land-allotment-2019.
    (2) A written description of the lands you are applying for, 
including:
    (i) Section, township, range, and meridian; and
    (ii) If desired, additional information about the location. The 
submitted map will be given preference if there is a conflict between 
the written description and the submitted map, unless you specify 
otherwise.
    (b) In addition to the materials described in paragraph (a) of this 
section, you must also provide the following materials, under the 
circumstances described in this paragraph (b):
    (1) If you, or the person on whose behalf you are applying, are an 
Eligible Individual as described in Sec.  2569.301, and were not 
notified by the BLM of your eligibility, you must provide proof that 
you, or the person on whose behalf you are applying, are an Eligible 
Individual, consisting of:
    (i) A Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood or other documentation 
from the BIA to verify that you (or the person on whose behalf you are 
applying) are an Alaska Native; and
    (ii) A Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (Form 
DD-214) or other documentation from DoD to verify that you (or the 
person on whose behalf you are applying) are a Veteran and served 
between August 5, 1964 and December 31, 1971.
    (2) If you are applying on behalf of the estate of an Eligible 
Individual who is deceased, you must provide proof that you have been 
appointed by an Alaska State court as the personal representative of 
the estate, and an affidavit stating that the appointment has not 
expired. The appointment may have been made before or after the 
enactment of the Act, as long as it has not expired.
    (3) If you are applying on behalf of an Eligible Individual as that 
individual's guardian or conservator, you must provide proof that you 
have been appointed by a court of law, and an affidavit stating that 
the appointment has not expired.
    (4) If you are applying on behalf of an Eligible Individual as that 
individual's attorney-in-fact, you must provide a legally valid and 
current power of attorney that either grants a general power-of-
attorney or specifically includes the power to apply for this benefit 
or conduct real estate transactions.
    (c) You must sign the application, certifying that all the 
statements made in the application are true, complete, and correct to 
the best of your knowledge and belief and are made in good faith.


Sec.  2569.405   What are the special provisions that apply to 
selections that include State or Native corporation selected land?

    (a) If the selection you are applying for includes State or Native 
corporation selected land, the BLM must receive a valid relinquishment 
from the State or Native corporation that covers all of the lands in 
your selection that are State or Native corporation selected lands. 
This requirement does not apply if all of the State or Native 
corporation selected land included within your selection consists of 
land for which the State or Native corporation has issued a blanket 
conditional relinquishment as shown on the mapping tool available at 
http://www.blm.gov/ak-native-vietnam-vet-land-allotment-2019.
    (b) No such relinquishment may cause a Native corporation to become 
underselected. See 43 U.S.C. 1621(j)(2) for a definition of 
underselection.
    (c) An application for Native corporation or State selected land 
will segregate the land from any future entries on the land once the 
BLM receives a valid relinquishment.
    (d) If the State or Native corporation is unable or unwilling to 
provide a valid relinquishment, the BLM will issue a decision finding 
that your selection includes lands that are not available Federal lands 
and then follow the procedures set out at Sec.  2569.503.


Sec.  2569.406   What are the rules about the number of parcels and 
size of the parcel for my selection?

    (a) You may apply for only one parcel.
    (b) The parcel cannot be less than 2.5 acres or more than 160 
acres.


Sec.  2569.407   Is there a limit to how much water frontage my 
selection can include?

    Generally, yes. You will normally be limited to a half-mile along 
the shore of a navigable water body, referred to as 160 rods (one half-
mile) in the regulations at 43 CFR subpart 2094. If you apply for land 
that extends more than 160 rods (one half-mile), the BLM will treat 
your application as a request to waive this limitation. As explained in 
43 CFR 2094.2, the BLM can waive the half-mile limitation if the BLM 
determines the land is not needed for a harborage, wharf, or boat 
landing area, and that a waiver will not harm the public interest. If 
the BLM determines it cannot waive the 160-rod (one half-mile) 
limitation, the BLM will issue a decision finding your selection 
includes lands that are not available Federal lands and then follow the 
procedures set out at Sec.  2569.503.


Sec.  2569.408   Do I need to pay any fees when I file my application?

    No. You do not need to pay a fee to file an application.


Sec.  2569.409   Where do I file my application?

    You must file your application with the BLM Alaska State Office in 
Anchorage, Alaska, by one of the following methods:
    (a) Mail or delivery service: Bureau of Land Management, ATTN: 
Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans Land Allotment Section, 222 West 7th 
Avenue, Mail Stop 13, Anchorage, Alaska 99513-7504; or
    (b) In person: Bureau of Land Management Alaska, Public Information 
Center, 222 West 7th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska 99513-7504.


Sec.  2569.410   What will the BLM do if it finds a technical error in 
my application?

    If the BLM finds a technical error in your application, such as an 
incomplete or unsigned application form or missing materials that are 
required by Sec.  2569.402, 2569.404 or 2569.405, then the BLM will 
send you a notice identifying any correctable errors or omissions. You 
will have 60 days from the date you received the notice to correct the 
errors or provide the omitted materials. You will be required to submit 
the corrections to the BLM within the 60-day period or the BLM will 
issue a decision rejecting your application and require you to submit a 
new application. Your corrected or completed application will be deemed 
received, for purposes of preference, on the date that the last 
correction is received, as set forth in Sec.  2569.411.


Sec.  2569.411   When is my application considered received by the BLM?

    (a) An application that is free from technical errors, as described 
in Sec.  2569.410, will be deemed received on the receipt date, except 
that if such an application is received before (EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE 
FINAL RULE), the application will be deemed received on (EFFECTIVE DATE 
OF THE FINAL RULE).
    (b) An application that contains technical errors, as described in 
Sec.  2569.410, will be deemed received on the receipt date of the last 
required correction.
    (c) In the case of a substitute selection for conflict resolution 
under Sec.  2569.502, or for correction of an unavailable lands

[[Page 41511]]

selection under Sec.  2569.503, the substitute application will be 
deemed received on the receipt date of the substitute selection 
application.


Sec.  2569.412   Where can I go for help with filling out an 
application?

    You can receive help with your application at:
    (a) The BIA or a BIA Realty Service Provider for your home area or 
where you plan to apply. To find the list of the BIA Realty Service 
Providers, go to https://www.bia.gov/regional-offices/alaska/real-estate-services/tribal-service-providers or call 907-271-4104 or 1-800-
645-8465;
    (b) The BLM Alaska Public Room:

    The Anchorage Public Room located at 222 West 7th Avenue, 
Anchorage, Alaska 99513-7504, by email at [email protected], 
by telephone at 907-271-5960, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 
4:00 p.m. excluding Federal Holidays
    The Fairbanks Public Room located at 222 University Ave, Fairbanks, 
Alaska 99709, by email at [email protected] or by 
telephone at 907-474-2252 or 2200, Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. 
to 4:30 p.m. excluding Federal Holidays;
    (c) The following BLM Field Offices:

Anchorage Field Office located at 4700 BLM Road, Anchorage, Alaska, by 
email at [email protected], by phone 907-267-1246, 
Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. excluding Federal 
Holidays
Glennallen Field Office located at Mile Post 186.5 Glenn Highway, by 
email at [email protected], by phone 907-822-3217, 
Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. excluding Federal Holidays
Nome Field Station located at the U.S. Post Office Building, by phone 
907-443-2177, Monday through Friday excluding Federal holidays;
    (d) Your local VA office; and
    (e) Online at the BLM website which gives answers to frequently 
asked questions and a mapping tool which will show the available 
Federal lands and provide online tools for identifying and printing 
your selection: www.blm.gov/ak-native-vietnam-vet-land-allotment-2019.


Sec.  2569.413   How will I receive notices and decisions?

    (a) The BLM will provide all notices and decisions by Certified 
Mail with Return Receipt to your address of record.
    (b) Where these regulations specify that you must take a certain 
action within a certain number of days of receiving a notice or 
decision, the BLM will determine the date on which you received the 
notice or decision as follows:
    (i) If you sign the Return Receipt, the date on which you received 
the notice or decision will be the date on which you signed the Return 
Receipt.
    (ii) If the notice or decision is returned as undelivered, or if 
you refuse to sign the Return Receipt, the BLM will make a second 
attempt by an alternative method. If the second attempt succeeds in 
delivering the notice or decision, the BLM will deem the notice or 
decision to have been received on the date when the notice or decision 
was delivered according to the mail tracking system.
    (iii) If the notice or decision is returned as undelivered 
following the second attempt, the BLM may issue a decision rejecting 
your application.
    (c) You have a duty to keep your address up to date. If your 
mailing address or other contact information changes during the 
application process, please notify the BLM by mail at the address 
provided in Sec.  2569.409(a), or by telephone at 907-271-5960. If you 
notify the BLM by mail, please prominently include the words ``Change 
of Contact Information'' in your letter.

Processing the Application


Sec.  2569.501   What will the BLM do with my application after it is 
received?

    After your application is deemed received in accordance with Sec.  
2569.411, the BLM will take the following steps:
    (a) The BLM will enter your selection onto the Master Title Plat 
(MTP) to make the public aware that the land has been segregated from 
the public land laws.
    (b) The BLM will then determine whether the selection includes only 
available Federal lands or if the selection conflicts with any other 
applicant's selection. The BLM will also review its records and aerial 
imagery to identify, to the extent it can, any valid existing rights 
that exist within the selection.
    (c) The BLM may make minor adjustments to the shape and description 
of your selection to match existing property boundaries, roads, or 
meanderable waterbodies, or to reduce the number of corners or curved 
boundary segments.
    (d) After any adjustments have been made, the BLM will send you a 
Notice of Survey to inform you of the shape and location of the lands 
the BLM plans to survey. The Notice of Survey will include:
    (1) Your original land description;
    (2) The adjusted land description plotted onto a Topographic Map 
and a MTP;
    (3) Imagery of your original land description with the adjusted 
land description projected onto it;
    (4) A Draft Plan of Survey; and
    (5) A list of valid existing rights that the BLM has identified 
within the selection.
    (e) The Notice of Survey will provide you an opportunity to 
challenge, in writing, the Draft Plan of Survey of the adjusted land 
description within 60 days of receipt of the BLM's notice. If no 
challenge is received within 60 days, the BLM will deem the Draft Plan 
of Survey to have been accepted.
    (f) The BLM will finalize the Plan of Survey based on the Draft 
Plan of Survey in the Notice of Survey or the adjustment you provide 
pursuant to paragraph (e) of this section.
    (g) The BLM will survey the selection based on the Plan of Survey.
    (h) After survey, the BLM will mail you a document titled 
Conformance to Plat of Survey. That document will:
    (1) Show the selection as actually surveyed;
    (2) Plot the survey onto imagery; and
    (3) If you found an error in the way the BLM surveyed the selection 
based on the Plan of Survey, provide an opportunity to dispute the 
survey in writing within 60 days of receipt of the Conformance of Plat 
of Survey. If no notice of dispute is received within 60 days, the BLM 
will deem the survey to have been accepted.
    (i) The BLM will issue a Certificate of Allotment. No right or 
title of any sort will vest in the selection until the Certificate of 
Allotment is issued.
    (j) If an application is rejected for any reason, the BLM will 
remove the corresponding selection from the MTP to make the public 
aware that the land is no longer segregated from the public land laws.


Sec.  2569.502   What if more than one Eligible Individual applies for 
the same lands?

    (a) If two or more Eligible Individuals select the same lands, in 
whole or part, the BLM will:
    (1) Give preference to the application bearing the earliest receipt 
date;
    (2) If two or more applications bear an identical receipt date, and 
one or more application bears a legible postmark or shipping date, give 
preference to the application with the earliest postmark or shipping 
date; or
    (3) Assign to any applications for the same land that are still 
tied after the criteria in paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section 
are applied a number in sequence, and run a random number

[[Page 41512]]

generator to pick the application that will receive preference.
    (4) For purposes of paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section, an 
application received, postmarked, or shipped before (EFFECTIVE DATE OF 
THE FINAL RULE) will be deemed to have been received, postmarked, or 
shipped on (EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE).
    (b) The BLM will issue a decision to all applicants with 
conflicting selections setting out the BLM's determination of 
preference rights. Applicants who do not have preference must make one 
of the following choices:
    (1) Provide the BLM a substitute selection within 60 days of 
receipt of the BLM's decision. The substitute selection may consist of 
either an adjustment to the original selection that avoids the 
conflict, or a new selection located somewhere else. The substitute 
selection will be considered a new application for purposes of 
preference, as set forth in Sec.  2569.411(c), but the applicant will 
not need to resubmit any portions of the application other than the 
land description and map; or,
    (2) If only a portion of the selection is in conflict, the 
applicant may request that the BLM continue to adjudicate the portion 
of the selection that is not in conflict. The BLM must receive the 
request within 60 days of your receipt of the BLM's decision. Each 
applicant is are allowed only one selection of land under this act, and 
will not be allowed to apply for more acreage later.
    (c) If you receive a decision finding your application does not 
have preference under paragraph (b) of this section and the BLM does 
not receive your choice within 60 days of receipt of the notice, the 
BLM will issue a decision rejecting your application. If your 
application is rejected, you may file a new application for different 
lands before the end of the five-year application period.


Sec.  2569.503  What if my application includes lands that are not 
available Federal lands?

    (a) If your selection includes lands that are not available Federal 
lands, the BLM will issue you a decision informing you of the 
unavailable land selection and give you the following choices:
    (1) Provide the BLM a substitute selection within 60 days of your 
receipt of the decision. The substitute selection may consist of either 
an adjustment to your original selection that avoids the unavailable 
lands, or a new selection located somewhere else. Your substitute 
selection will be considered a new application for purposes of 
preference, as set forth in Sec.  2569.411(c), but you will not need to 
resubmit any portions of your application other than the land 
description and map; or,
    (2) If only a portion of your selection is unavailable, you may 
request that the BLM continue to adjudicate the portion of the 
selection that is within available Federal lands. The BLM must receive 
your request within 60 days of your receipt of the BLM's decision. You 
are allowed only one parcel of land under this act, and you will not be 
allowed to apply for more acreage later.
    (b) If you receive a decision finding your selection includes 
unavailable lands under paragraph (a) of this section and the BLM does 
not receive your choice within 60 days of receipt of the notice, the 
BLM will issue a decision rejecting your application. If your 
application is rejected, you may file a new application for different 
lands before the end of the five-year application period.


Sec.  2569.504   Once I file, can I change my land selection?

    Once your application is received in accordance with Sec.  
2569.411, you will not be allowed to change your selection except as 
set forth in Sec.  2569.502 or 2569.503.


Sec.  2569.505   Does the selection need to be surveyed before I can 
receive title to it?

    Yes. The land in your selection must be surveyed before the BLM can 
convey it to you. The BLM will survey your selection at no charge to 
you, as set forth in Sec.  2569.501(g).


Sec.  2569.506   How will the BLM convey the land?

    (a) The BLM will issue a Certificate of Allotment which includes 
language similar to the language found in Certificates of Allotment 
issued under the Act of May 17, 1906 (34 Stat. 197, chapter 2469), 
providing that the land conveyed will be deemed the homestead of the 
allottee and his or her heirs in perpetuity, and will be inalienable 
and nontaxable until otherwise provided by Congress or until the 
Secretary of the Interior or his or her delegate approves a deed of 
conveyance vesting in the purchaser a complete title to the land.
    (b) The Certificate of Allotment will be issued subject to valid 
existing rights.
    (c) The United States will reserve to itself all minerals in the 
Certificate of Allotment.


Sec.  2569.507   What should I do if the Eligible Individual dies or 
becomes incapacitated during the application process?

    (a) If an Eligible Individual dies during the application process, 
another individual may continue the application process as a personal 
representative of the estate of the deceased Eligible Individual by 
providing to the BLM the materials described in Sec.  2569.404(b)(2).
    (b) If an Eligible Individual becomes incapacitated during the 
application process, another individual may continue the application 
process as a court-appointed guardian or conservator or as an attorney-
in-fact for the Eligible Individual by providing to the BLM the 
materials described in Sec.  2569.404(b)(3) or (4).
    (c) If a deceased or incapacitated Eligible Individual has received 
a notice from the BLM that requires a response within 60 days, as 
described in Sec.  2569.410, 2569.501(e), 2569.501(h)(3), 2569.502(b), 
or 2569.503(a), and no personal representative, guardian, or 
conservator has been appointed, or no attorney-in-fact has been 
designated, the individual who receives the notice, or an employee of 
the BIA or a Realty Service Provider, may respond to the notice in 
order to request that the BLM extend the 60-day period to allow for a 
personal representative, guardian, or conservator to be appointed. The 
BLM will extend a 60-day period under this paragraph (c) for up to two 
years.
    (d) If the BLM has completed a Draft Plan of Survey as described in 
Sec.  2569.501(d) or a survey as described in Sec.  2569.501(g), and 
the estate of the deceased Eligible Individual does not wish to dispute 
the Draft Plan of Survey as described in Sec.  2569.501(e) or the 
results of the survey as described in Sec.  2569.501(h), then the BLM 
will not require a personal representative to be appointed. The BLM 
will continue to process the application and will issue the Certificate 
of Allotment in the name of the deceased Eligible Individual.
    (e) Other than as provided in paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of this 
section, the BLM will not accept any correspondence on behalf of a 
deceased or incapacitated Eligible Individual from an individual who 
has not provided the materials described in Sec.  2569.404(b)(2), (3), 
or (4).

Available Federal Lands--General


Sec.  2569.601   What lands are available for selection?

    You may receive title only to lands identified as available Federal 
land. You can review the available Federal lands on the mapping tool 
available at www.blm.gov/ak-native-vietnam-vet-land-allotment-2019. If 
you do not have access to the internet, a physical copy of the map of 
available Federal lands can be requested by either:
    (a) Calling the BLM Alaska Public Room, the BIA Regional Realty 
Office or Fairbanks Agency Office, or your local

[[Page 41513]]

BIA Service Provider. The map will be current as of the date it is 
printed, and mailed to the mailing address provided at the time of 
request; or
    (b) Requesting a physical copy in person at any of the offices 
listed in this section.


Sec.  2569.602   How will the BLM certify that the land is free of 
known contaminants?

    The BLM will review land for contamination by using current 
contaminated site database information in the Alaska Department of 
Environmental Conservation database, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
Formerly Used Defense Sites database, the U.S. Air Force database, and 
the Federal Aviation Administration database, or any equivalent 
databases if any of these databases are no longer available. Any land 
found to have possible contamination based on these searches will not 
be available for selection.


Sec.  2569.604   Are lands that are valuable for minerals available?

    Yes, however, the minerals will be reserved to the United States 
and will not belong to you.


Sec.  2569.605  What happens if new lands become available?

    (a) New lands may become available during the application period. 
As additional lands become available, the BLM will review the lands to 
determine whether they are free of known contaminants as described in 
Sec.  2569.602.
    (b) After review, the BLM will update the online web maps of 
available Federal lands to include these additional lands during the 
five-year application period.

National Wildlife Refuge System


Sec.  2569.701   If Congress makes lands available within a National 
Wildlife Refuge, what additional rules apply?

    Any Certificate of Allotment for lands within a National Wildlife 
Refuge will contain provisions that the lands remain subject to the 
laws and regulations governing the use and development of the Refuge.

Appeals


Sec.  2569.801   What can I do if I disagree with any of the decisions 
that are made about my allotment application?

    a. You may appeal all decisions to the Interior Board of Land 
Appeals under 43 CFR part 4.
    b. On appeals of decisions made pursuant to Sec.  2569.502(b):
    1. Unless the BLM's decision is stayed on appeal pursuant to 43 CFR 
4.21, the BLM will continue to process the conflicting applications 
that received preference over your application.
    2. Within 60 days of receiving a decision on the appeal, the losing 
applicant may exercise one of the two options to select a substitute 
parcel pursuant to Sec.  2569.502(b).
    c. On appeals of decisions which reject the application or of a 
decision made pursuant to Sec.  2569.503(a):
    1. Unless the BLM's decision is stayed on appeal pursuant to 43 CFR 
4.21, the BLM will lift the segregation of your selection and the land 
will be available for all future entries.
    2. If you win the appeal and the decision was not stayed, your 
selection will be considered received as of the date of the Interior 
Board of Land Appeals decision for purposes of preference under Sec.  
2569.502(a).

[FR Doc. 2020-13808 Filed 7-9-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-JA-P