The Department of the Interior (DOI) has recently announced the final changes to the Part 151 fee-to-trust regulations. These new regulations will be implemented starting from January 11, 2024.
The final version of the rule remains largely consistent with the proposed regulations that were initially introduced by the DOI in December 2022. The main objective of these regulations is to streamline the process through which the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) takes land into trust for the benefit of Native American tribes. Currently, it takes tribes an average of 985 days to receive a final fee-to-trust decision. However, the new regulations aim to reduce this timeframe to just 120 days.
While some of the requests made by organizations like CSAC were not included in the final rule, the DOI has taken a step towards addressing concerns by now requiring the consideration of “potential conflicts of land use” during the review of applications for off-reservation acquisitions and initial Indian reservations. Although not all requests were incorporated, this provision demonstrates the advocacy efforts made by CSAC and others.