Interior Announces Initial Buy Back Program – Cobell Land Consolidation Plan

Press Release is here.

Initial Land Buy Back Plan is here.

Below are excerpts from the Press Release.

The Department of the Interior today announced the initial framework of the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations that will purchase fractional interests in American Indian trust lands from willing sellers, enabling tribal governments to use the consolidated parcels for the benefit of their communities.

The initial implementation plan, based on consultation with tribes, outlines how Interior will carry out the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided a $1.9 billion fund to purchase the fractionated interests in trust or restricted land, at fair market value, within a 10 year period. These acquired interests will remain in trust or restricted status through transfer to tribes.

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As outlined in a Secretarial Order also announced today, the organizational structure for the Buy-Back Program will consist of a core group in the Office of the Secretary to provide management and performance expertise under the supervision of a Program Manager. The program relies on the extensive expertise and services within Interior, primarily in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of Special Trustee for American Indians, to implement the operational aspects, including valuations and acquisitions.

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The Buy-Back Program will be structured to allow as much opportunity for tribal participation and assistance as practical, including consulting with Indian tribes to identify acquisition priorities. The program will actively report progress and communicate with tribal communities throughout the life of the initiative.

Interior has been working on land consolidation efforts since the program was authorized by the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, but could not officially implement the program until the settlement was considered final on Nov. 24, 2012 after appeals were exhausted through the U.S. Supreme Court.

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As part of the Interior’s continuing dialogue with tribal nations, Interior will host three consultation sessions early next year to discuss the Initial Implementation Plan and receive tribal feedback — on Jan. 31 in Minneapolis, MN; on Feb. 6 in Rapid City, SD; and on Feb. 14 in Seattle, WA.

The Initial Implementation Plan reflects the comments received from tribal consultation sessions in the summer and fall of 2011 and the draft Implementation Plan released in January, 2012. The plan outlines the initial goals and priorities of the program, summarizes key parameters and operational concepts, and outlines ways in which tribes can participate in the Buy-Back Program through cooperative agreements. The Initial Implementation Plan is available for public comment for 75 days.


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