[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 23 (Friday, February 3, 2012)]
[Pages 5528-5529]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-2400]



Office of the Secretary

Trust Land Consolidation Draft Plan

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability.


SUMMARY: The Cobell Class Action Settlement Agreement established a 
trust land consolidation fund to be used for consolidating Indian trust 
and restricted lands and acquiring fractional interests in these lands. 
We are seeking comments on the draft plan for accomplishing these 

DATES: Submit comments by March 19, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send comments on the draft plan to: Elizabeth Appel, Bureau 
of Indian Affairs, 1001 Indian School Road NW., Suite 312, Albuquerque, 
NM 87104; Email: [email protected]. You can request copies of the 
draft plan by sending a letter or email to one of the above addresses 
or by calling 505-563-3805.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Meghan Conklin, Department of the 
Interior, 1849 C Street NW., Washington, DC 20240. Email: [email protected].

    In 1996, Eloise Cobell filed class action litigation seeking 
redress for the alleged mismanagement of land trust accounts for 
American Indians. The litigation eventually included hundreds of 
motions, seven full trials, and dozens of rulings and appeals. On 
December 8, 2009, the Department reached a negotiated settlement 
agreement to resolve the issues that gave rise to the litigation. The 
settlement agreement:
     Ended litigation regarding the federal government's 
performance of an historical accounting for trust accounts maintained 
by the United States on behalf of more than 300,000 individual Indians.
     Established a fund to be distributed to class members to 
compensate them for their historical accounting claims, and to resolve 
potential claims that

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prior U.S. officials mismanaged the administration of trust assets.
     Established a trust land consolidation fund for the 
voluntary buy-back and consolidation of fractionated land interests.
    The draft plan we are making available for comment would implement 
the last of the above elements by carrying out a program of land 
consolidation within the 10-year deadline established in the agreement. 
The trust land consolidation fund is intended to remedy the 
proliferation of thousands of new trust accounts caused by the 
increasing subdivision or ``fractionation'' of land interests through 
succeeding generations. Fractionation is the result of the division 
among multiple heirs of increasingly smaller land interests. The land 
consolidation fund and the associated land consolidation program will 
provide individual American Indians an opportunity to obtain cash 
payments for fractionated land interests and will make consolidated 
lands available for use by tribal communities.
    The goal of the draft land consolidation plan, developed as a 
result of consultation with Indian tribal representatives, is to reduce 
land fractionation as quickly and economically as possible. The draft 
plan would achieve sufficient capacity and efficiency for the 
implementation of the land consolidation program under the settlement 
agreement and includes a land consolidation process consisting of three 
     A targeted land fractionation program to focus on areas 
where land fractionation is greatest;
     A willing seller program to enable sales of fractionated 
interests from interested owners; and
     The availability of cooperative agreements to maximize 
tribal involvement in the consolidation process.
    Copies of the complete draft plan are available at the address 
given in the ADDRESSES section of this notice.
    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Dated: January 27, 2012.
David J. Hayes,
Deputy Secretary of the Interior.
[FR Doc. 2012-2400 Filed 2-2-12; 8:45 am]