November is Manatee Awareness Month; but no matter what time of year it is, manatees deserve to be celebrated. These amazing creatures fulfill a unique niche by serving as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because of their reliance on the health of their habitat, manatees often act as a signal of their environment’s well-being. NOAA photo by Michael Buchanan.
Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
The Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program) implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value within a 10-year period. There are almost 243,000 owners of nearly three million fractional interests, spanning 150 Indian reservations, who are eligible to participate.
Participation in the Buy-Back Program is voluntary. Individuals who choose to sell their interests receive payments directly into their Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts. In addition to receiving fair market value for their land based on objective appraisals, sellers also receive a base payment of $75 per offer. Consolidated interests are then immediately restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members.
Some owners have already received more than $100,000 for their interests (offer amounts vary based on the particular interests held).
Offer Deadlines Approaching -- Owners Must Respond Soon!
Offers are currently outstanding for landowners with fractional land interests at:
Turtle Mountain -- December 5, 2016
Bad River -- December 15, 2016
Osage -- December 22, 2016
Crow Creek -- December 29, 2016
Fort Hall -- December 30, 2016
Ponca -- January 12, 2017
Purchase offers are valid for 45 calendar days from the date of the Cover Letter that is included in the Offer Package provided to owners. After a completed purchase package is received by the Buy-Back Program by the established deadline, staff will process the payment within 60 days.
Staff Ready to Answer Questions
Landowners do not need to wait until the Buy-Back Program begins implementation to get more information. Please review the Program's frequently asked questions and become familiar with the Offer Packet Documents, available here.
In addition, landowners can contact the Call Center at (888) 678-6836 with questions about their purchase offers, visit their local OST office, or contact their tribe's staff working with the Buy-Back Program.
Interested in Program Participation?
Landowners who are interested in receiving an offer through the Buy-Back Program are encouraged to visit or call the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) office nearest them or contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at (888) 678-6836 to: (a) learn more about the Buy-Back Program and their fractional interests; (b) update their contact information, if necessary; and (c) register as a willing seller, if interested. Identifying yourself as a willing seller in no way commits a landowner to sell – nor does it guarantee that a landowner will receive an offer – it is simply the best way to ensure the Buy-Back Program is aware of their interest.
Top 10 Locations with Highest Percentage of Registered Willing Sellers (as of 9/30/16):