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US looks to boost cooperation with tribes on land management

National Park Service Director Chuck Sams says he and other federal officials are committed to boosting the role Native American tribes can play in managing public lands.

He said Tuesday during a congressional hearing that part of the effort includes integrating Indigenous knowledge into management plans and recognizing that federal lands once belonged to the tribes.

Tribal officials from New Mexico, Colorado and the Pacific Northwest testified about the importance of including Native American voices when weighing decisions that could impact cultural sites, water supplies and forest health.

Sams said his agency has several dozen cooperative agreements in place with tribes now and he expects that number to grow.