National | Trust

BIA promises 'enforceable' deadlines for leases on trust lands

The Bureau of Indian Affairs will move quicker on leases for trust lands under new regulations that the Obama administration proposed on Monday.

The proposed rule imposes a 30-day timeline on residential leases, subleases and mortgages. For commercial or industrial development, the BIA will have 60 days to review leases and subleases.

The BIA can request an extension by working with tribes and affected parties. But if the agency fails to take action within the timeframes, the agreements will automatically go into effect.

"These timelines are enforceable," Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk said on a conference call yesterday.

Other changes will eliminate BIA review altogether for certain activities on trust lands. The goal is to spur economic development in Indian Country by updating regulations that have been in place since 1961.

“The proposed changes are the most comprehensive reforms of Indian land leasing regulations in more than 50 years and will have a real impact for individuals and families who want to own a home or build a business,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a press release. “This reform underscores President Obama’s commitment to empower Indian nations and strengthen their economies by expanding opportunities for individual landowners and tribal governments -- generating investment, new jobs and revenues.”

Comments on the proposed changes are due by January 30, 2012, according to a notice that was published today in the Federal Register. Comments on a separate information collection must be submitted by December 29, 2011.

Get the Story:
Feds promise to streamline approval of Indian land-use requests (Cronkite News 11/28)
Administration unveils new rules for tribal lands (AP 11/28)
U.S. Targets American Indian Land for Wind, Solar Projects (Bloomberg News 11/29)
Cole says proposed Indian land use reforms will help tribes (The Tulsa World 11/29)

Federal Register Notice:
Residential, Business, and Wind and Solar Resource Leases on Indian Land (November 29, 2011)

Relevant Documents:
Q&A on Changes | Comparison of Changes

Join the Conversation