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BIA completes regulations to speed leasing in Indian Country





The Bureau of Indian Affairs has completed regulations that will speed up the leasing process in Indian Country, Obama administration officials said on Tuesday.

The regulations, for the first time, place deadlines on the BIA. For residential leases, subleases, and mortgages, the agency has 30 days to take action and for commercial or industrial development, the agency has 60 days.

If the BIA doesn't take action by the deadline, the leases are automatically approved. "This reform will expand opportunities for individual landowners and tribal governments to generate investment and create jobs in their communities by bringing greater transparency and workability to the Bureau of Indian Affairs leasing process," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a press release.

On a conference call with reporters, Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn said the deadlines are enforceable. Although the BIA can request an extension, the agency will will be required to take action.

"If we don't act within the additional time, it's just deemed approved," Washburn said on the call. "That ensure that the parties can keep moving forward."

The regulations were announced in November 2011. The Obama administration held a series of consultations with tribal leaders to take their input.

The regulations will become effective 30 days after being published in the Federal Register. That's expected within the coming days.

Get the Story:
Feds streamline leasing rules, hope to ease development on tribal lands (Cronkite News 11/27)
Rules are first reforms of tribal land leasing regulations in 50 years (AP 11/27)

Relevant Documents:
Fact Sheet | Q&A | Comparison of Existing and New Regulations | Final Rule

Related Stories:
BIA promises 'enforceable' deadlines for leases on trust lands (11/29)