With the approval of the Secretary of the Interior or authorized delegate, you, as the landowner of restricted property, can have the restrictions removed from title. The process of removing restrictions from a Native allotment or townsite lot releases the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) from our role in providing services to Native landowners. Once restrictions are removed from a Native allotment or townsite lot, the landowner no longer needs to contact the BIA for any transactions involving the property, and the land will become subject to local zoning ordinances and state or local property taxes. You must have title to your restricted property, which is confirmed by Certificate of Allotment, Restricted Trustee Deed, Probate decision, or other approved conveyance document.
Since much of the fieldwork required for this transaction is accomplished in the summer months, early notice is appreciated when requesting removal of restrictions.
The following is an outline of the steps involved in the removal of restrictions process:
1. Initial Contact: To initiate a transaction, please submit a request in writing stating your reasons for wanting to remove restrictions. Once the request is received, a Realty Specialist will be assigned to the transaction.
2. Application & Counseling: The Realty Specialist will follow up with you to discuss the removal of restrictions process and the effects of removing restrictions, and provide you with an application and other documents to complete and return. This document also serves as the Certificate of Competency, which states that the landowner has been determined competent to handle his/her own affairs, as required by regulation.
3. Survey: If the removal of restrictions is for a portion of the allotment, and an adequate aliquot parts description cannot be used to describe the portion, a survey will be required. The survey must be accomplished by a registered land surveyor. If a survey is necessary, it is the responsibility of the landowner to procure the services of the registered land surveyor.
4. Appraisal: Appraisals are no longer required for requests to remove restrictions. The landowner may be asked to sign a waiver stating that they know that the land has a certain undetermined monetary value, and that they are waiving their right to an appraisal to determine that value. If requested, an appraisal can be completed for the transaction by the Appraisal and Valuation Services Office at no cost to the landowner. Appraisals can take 18 months to two years to receive.
5. Archeological Clearance: The allotment or townsite lot must be inventoried for potential cultural or historical remains. Like the appraisal, BIA Archeology staff will conduct the inventory at no cost to you, but can take 18 months to two years to receive. You can acquire the services of a private Archeologist. The private Archeological report will be subject to review and approval by the BIA Archeology staff and must be prepared in accordance with their guidelines. The private Archeologist should meet with the BIA Archeology staff prior to conducting any fieldwork.
6. Environmental Compliance: Compliance with NEPA regulations is required. The Realty Specialist assigned to your case will assess the removal of restrictions and determine the type of environmental document required based upon your plans for the use of the property. You must inform the Realty Specialist of any activity you have planned for the land immediately following the removal of restrictions.
7. Timber Clearance: If the land is valuable for timber, a timber clearance and/or timber report may be necessary. The Realty Specialist assigned to the case can determine the necessity based on his/her knowledge of the land in the area and from discussions with the applicant. If a timber clearance/report is necessary, BIA Forestry staff will be responsible for conducting the fieldwork.
8. Report of Investigation: After all previous requirements have been met, the Realty Specialist assigned to the removal of restrictions transaction will prepare a report of his/her findings and recommendation to the BIA Alaska Regional Director.
9. Decision: The Regional Director will review the ROI and make a decision to either approve or disapprove the application.
a. If approved, the deed will be signed by the Regional Director or other authorized official and returned to the Realty Specialist. The Specialist will forward the deeds to the BIA Land Title and Records Office (LTRO) for recording, and then record with the appropriate State Recorder’s Office. The original deeds will be returned to the landowners after recording.
b. If disapproved, the landowner(s) will be notified of the action taken.
Any affected parties can appeal the decision, and will be informed of the appeal procedures.
10. Conveyance from the United States Verifying Removal of Restrictions (Allotments): if the removal of restrictions is approved for an allotment, a “Conveyance from the United States Verifying Removal of Restrictions” form is signed by the BIA Alaska Regional Director. The document is recorded with the Land Title and Records Office, and forwarded to the appropriate State Recorder’s Office for recording. After recording, the original document is sent to the landowner for their records and safekeeping.
11. Deed to Unrestricted Land (Townsite Lots): After approval by the BIA Alaska Regional Director for a removal of restrictions from a Townsite lot, the "Application for and Certificate of Competency to Remove Restrictions" is forwarded to the Bureau of Land Management, Townsite Trustee, for issuance of a "Deed to Unrestricted Land." The "Deed to Unrestricted Land" is issued directly to the landowner, with a copy provided to the BIA.
Once the conveyance or deed removing restrictions has been issued, the BIA will no longer provide services to the landowner, including rights protection. The land will also be able to be taken from the owner to satisfy any liens or judgments attached to the land and/or owner, and will be subject to any state or local property tax. Any income derived from the sale or rental of the land will be subject to Federal and State taxation, and the land can be counted as an asset when calculating any public assistance benefits.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Bureau of Indian Affairs Alaska Region
Real Estate Services
3601 C Street, Suite 1200 MC-304
Anchorage, Alaska 99503-5947
(800) 645-8465 Ext. 2-1