In general, tribal consultations are meaningful, two-way dialogue between official tribal representation and parties involved in a proposed project that may affect tribal lands.
According to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), projects that may impact tribal lands and cultural assets must undergo a tribal cultural resource review. In these reviews, cities or communities and the affected Native American tribes work toward a mutual agreement regarding the project’s direction.
Tribal consultations are often conducted by a third-party consultant service that understands CEQA guidelines and can create a comprehensive, thorough tribal cultural review to prepare for the consultation. By providing environmental assessments and impact analysis, all parties can best determine a project’s potential influences on Native American resources and move forward with mutual respect and confidentiality.
When is a Tribal Consultation Necessary?
Tribal consultations are the best way to understand the importance of a cultural resource because you hear directly from the affected tribal community. Establishing proper communication with Native American tribes prior to environmental reviews can save numerous delays in project approval and progress.
It is important to note that, under assembly bill 52 (AB52), tribal consultation with a project lead agency is mandatory if the tribe requested prior notification and the opportunity to consult on all projects. Additionally, all entities are under obligation to retain the confidentiality of private cultural information revealed during any such consultation, and to keep documents containing sensitive information pertaining to Tribal Cultural Resources (TCR) confidential.
Why Work with a Consultant for a Tribal Consultation?
Meeting CEQA regulations regarding initiating, planning, and conducting a tribal consultation can quickly become complicated. Working with a third-party consultant that has experience and a positive working relationship with the tribes can help guide tribal consultations that are respectful to affected tribes and create a positive mutual agreement between all parties.
Consultants can help identify aspects of the project that are exempt from CEQA regulations or any cultural resource impacts ahead of the consultation. Additionally, these experts can assist with related documentation including Environmental Impact Reports (EIR), Mitigated Negative Declarations (MND) or national parks project reports.
Firms like FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS) stay well informed of CEQA updates, helping you reach CEQA compliance. FCS is a full-service company with more than 100 experts offering due diligence, technical analysis, planning, environmental compliance, permitting, and mitigation/monitoring services for public and private projects. With more than 30 years of experience, FCS understands the evolving complexities of CEQA and the capabilities needed to secure project approvals and consulting with Native American tribes. Our approach saves you time and money, and allows for responsible, respectful project approval.
Learn more about cultural resources management.