A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractionated interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value. Accepted offers have already resulted in payments to landowners totaling more than $35.5 million and the consolidation and restoration of more than 100,000 acres to tribes.
While the amounts offered to individuals will vary, a few owners have already received more than $100,000 for their interests. Individuals who choose to sell their interests will receive payments directly into their IIM accounts, typically within seven days after the Program receives a complete, accepted offer package from an owner. Consolidated interests are immediately restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members.
Across Indian Country, more than 245,000 individual Indian landowners have nearly 3 million fractionated interests on 150 reservations and are eligible to participate in the Program under the Cobell Settlement. These landowners are spread across the country. For example, the Program recently announced that purchase offers have been sent to nearly 16,000 individual landowners – located in 50 states as well as overseas – with fractionated interests in parcels on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. These purchase offers are time sensitive (deadline: May 2). For these reasons, the Program requires a vigorous national public education and outreach effort.
The Program believes it is critical to exhaust all efforts to reach individual landowners and communicate the importance of reducing fractionation, the advantages of selling their land, and resources for them to gather more information.
Program personnel have been working in concert with tribes and tribal organizations to conduct outreach at pow-wows, community meetings, and large Indian organizational gatherings to make sure that landowners know the facts about the unique opportunity before them. In addition, as the Program is implemented for particular reservations, personnel are working cooperatively with tribal governments to answer landowner questions, locate individuals whose whereabouts are currently unknown, notarize documents, and hold outreach events to ensure that landowners have the resources and support needed to understand their options and make timely decisions about their fractionated land interests.
Landowners can contact their local Fiduciary Trust Officer or call the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888-678-6836 with questions and to register as interested sellers. More information is also available on our Landowner page.