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This week, the California Assembly approved a bill that will allow for co-management of ancestral lands and waters. The bill, introduced by Assemblymember James Ramos (D-San Bernardino), now heads to the Senate.

If approved, the bill would authorize the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency to engage in government-to-government negotiations with federally recognized tribal communities for natural resource management.

“Under current law the California Natural Resource Agency (NRA) is not required to work with tribal communities even though the state’s First People have managed the land and its resources for centuries,” Ramos said in a statement. “Tribes are committed to the health and safety of delicate ecosystems and a tradition of responsibility and stewardship.”

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In 2011, Governor Brown signed an executive order, which reaffirmed California’s recognition of Tribal Communities as sovereigns of their own territory and people and as citizens of the state. It also committed the state to foster and sustain government-to-government relationships with tribal communities for land management.

Resighini Rancheria Tribal Chairperson Fawn Murphy supported the bill in a statement.

“It is time for Tribes and the Resources Agency to be real partners in combating climate change and protecting biodiversity and our natural and cultural resources,” Murphy said. “It is time to return the management of tribal ancestral lands and waters to California’s first peoples. AB 1284 is our way forward.”

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