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Bureau of Indian Affairs Publishes Proposed Amendments to Rules Governing Rights of Way

In December 2012, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) updated regulations governing the leasing of Indian lands to better conform to the self-determination policy. The BIA has now published proposed revisions to 25 Code of Federal Regulations Part 169 to accomplish the same goal with respect to required federal approvals of rights of way (ROW) through Indian lands. The proposed rules represent a major reform of the ROW approval process. Important features include: 

  • Greater deference to tribal land owners, especially tribal governments, with respect to compensation and valuation; 

  • Clearer guidance on the approval process;

  • Time limits on BIA’s decision-making; and 

  • A presumption in favor of approval in the absence of a compelling reason to deny.

The proposed regulations are available at 79 Fed. Reg. 34455. Comments may be submitted until August 18 to consultation@bia.gov

Copyright © 2020 Godfrey & Kahn S.C.National Law Review, Volume IV, Number 195


About this Author

Brian Pierson Tribal Lawyer Godfrey Kahn Law Firm

Brian Pierson leads Godfrey & Kahn's Indian Nations Law Team. Brian clerked for federal district judge Myron L. Gordon before entering private practice. Brian has more than 20 years experience representing Indian tribes, beginning with his successful representation of Chippewa Indians in federal court litigation to prevent racially-motivated interference with treaty-reserved, off-reservation fishing rights.

As leader of the firm's Indian Nations team, Brian's primary objective is to draw on the knowledge and experience of G&K's attorneys to assist tribes in formulating and...