Emerging Approaches to Tribal Consultation / Engagement and CEQA Compliance
Liz Klebaner served as a panelist for the second presentation in a 3-part workshop series on “Emerging Approaches to Tribal Consultation/Engagement and CEQA Compliance” on February 21, 2024.
Tribal leaders, lead agencies and project proponents are finding ways to engage with Tribes to improve how Tribal cultural resources are considered for project planning and CEQA compliance. CEQA has required the consideration of project impacts to Tribal cultural resources for just under a decade, and yet there is still a lack of consensus, much less clear direction, on best practices. Lead agencies have an opportunity to establish positive relationships with California Native American Tribes through project-level engagement and through consultation regarding Tribal cultural resources.
How can agencies update their CEQA policies and practices to create opportunities for meaningful consultation and engagement that doesn’t create an excessive burden on review timelines? What should all practitioners understand about Tribal perspectives on the interrelatedness of ecological, cultural and spiritual resources when seeking to identify Tribal cultural resources? How can agencies develop and apply qualitative standards of significance to meet CEQA requirements while considering elements of Tribal cultural resources that convey physical, ceremonial, or spiritual meaning?
This workshop series presented and explored approaches to governmental and environmental agency policies, engagement strategies, maintaining confidentiality, assessing impacts and co-creating mitigation for impacts to Tribal cultural resources. Each workshop represented a progression into the complexity of the topic: foundational definitions and concepts, evolving interpretations and concepts and trends for the future of Tribal cultural resources analysis in CEQA. The panelists presented on three key perspectives: understanding regulatory requirements, listening to and incorporating Tribal Science/Tribal Ecological Knowledge and compiling the record.