Trust Boundary Standards

The following are standards for the preparation of boundary evidence in land or resource transactions. These standards apply but are not limited to the following conveyances: fee to trust, government to trust, trust to fee, trust to trust, restricted, removal of restrictions, partition of trust or restricted lands, exchanges, reservations proclamations, and other trust and restricted fee assets transactions for the benefit of individual Indians and Indian Lands.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Boundary Standards?
How do they work?
Who will benefit?
Who else will Benefit?
We have Title Standards now, why have Boundary Standards too?


Will every transaction and resource management activity have to go through the Boundary Standards process?
What is provided?
What is new?
Does the Boundary Standards tell me how to protect the trust asset?
Will I have to consult with Cadastral Survey on every transaction or resource activity?

With Boundary Standards will I ever need a land survey?
If I know I just want a BLM survey will I have to go through the Boundary Standards Process?
But if I request an Administrative Survey does the Boundary Standards benfit me?
How will the Boundary Standards benefit BIA and Tribal title Experts?

Will Beneficiaries be misled?

Has a cost analysis been made?
What is a Certified Federal Surveyor(CFedS)?
What is a Pre-approved Agency or Tribal Official or Agent?
Where is the increased capacity?
Can the Boundary Standards be changed?

Who bears the cost for the Boundary Standards process?
How will the Boundary Standards benefit BIA and Tribal resource and facilities managers?
Why should I have a surveyor conduct a Certification of Inspection and Possession (CIP)?

What is Boundary Assurance?

How is Boundary Assurance performed?
Is it a survey?

What are Boundary Standards?

 The Boundary Standards provide a standardized system for boundary management to owners and managers. The standards provide a focal point for managing tens of thousands of miles of trust and restricted lands boundaries. They are for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Tribal manager with the fiduciary duty of presenting assurance to beneficiaries that activities, rights and boundaries are located correctly.

 

How do they work?

The standards takes the complex work of boundary management and breaks it down into the basic components. They require the involvement of managers, realty and resource specialists and surveyors working in a collaborative manner. The trust obligation is reached by land tenure professionals working together and reporting their findings via uniform documentation.

 

Who will Benefit?

Trust Beneficiaries. The Boundary Standards can reduce costly conflicts, reduce litigation, and reduce the number of land surveys. They will enable a more accurate accounting of trust funds by improved documentation of the location of activities and rights within appropriately located trust boundaries.

 

Who else will benefit? 

Realty Specialists or other BIA or tribal officials in cases where a boundary location is uncertain, will benefit by requesting an alternative to land surveys. The Boundary Assurance alternatives, in many cases but not all cases, will cost less and can be completed quicker than a land survey.

 

We have Title Standards now, why have Boundary Standards too? 

Title Standards and title documents insure against title defects. Surveys and survey records assures against boundary defects. The Boundary Standards fills the void by protecting boundary locations in those cases when a land survey is not necessary.

 

Will every transaction and resource management activity have to go through the Boundary Standards process?

No! The Standards does not change BIA or Tribal policy. Whether boundary assurance or an official survey for a past, current, or future transaction of trust asset management activity is requested is based upon existing policy.

 

What is provided?  

The requesting official is provided knowledge, via a written assurance (or non-assurance) certificate, about the boundary location based upon an investigation prepared by a cadastral or certified federal surveyor. The knowledge provided is dependent upon the type of assurance requested and excepts those matters which can only be disclosed by a land survey.

 

 What is new?

The standardization of existing work processes and the uniform documentation of the work product will be established. The type of work is not new, but the systematization of the business processes is. The Standards are a compilation of best practices taken from BIA Regions and BLM State Offices.

 

Does the Boundary Standards tell me how to protect the trust asset?

They don't. Your knowledge about the boundary location does that. With knowledge provided by BLM's Cadastral Survey on the amount of boundary location uncertainty, matched with your knowledge of the intended land use you can make the appropriate decision. The Standards provide general instructions to BLM Cadastral Surveyors on how they are to better serve you with the appropriate level of boundary knowledge for each case.

 

Will I have to consult with Cadastral Survey on every transaction or resource activity?

No! The manager is in charge and ultimately responsible for the outcome. The Boundary Standards provides you, in some cases, with more efficient and cost effective tools than a land survey to get the job done

 

With Boundary Standards will I ever need a land survey?

Yes. There will be cases where the Boundary Assurance report will contain caveats bearing higher risks than a prudent manager will want to assume. After consultation with your Cadastral Surveyor about what the caveats mean and your knowledge of the intended land use or purpose, you may decide you need to know the details which can only be revealed by an official survey. And in some cases the need for survey monuments or new land descriptions simply requires an official survey.

 

If I know I just want a BLM survey will I have to go through the Boundary Standards Process?

No! The Standards are not mandatory. The authorized official can still request an official survey just as they could before the standards. But, Cadastral Survey, based upon their preliminary research conducted for every survey, may come back and consult with your about a less expensive, timelier solution.

 

But if I request an Administrative Survey does the Boundary Standards benefit me?

The Standards provides a tool for a BLM review, but not an approval, of administrative (unofficial) surveys. You can request a review of past and current unofficial surveys. The report of the review can alert you to concerns about the surveys. In other words you can seek a second opinion in those cases when it is prudent.

 

How will the Boundary Standards benefit BIA and Tribal title Experts?

By Providing a standardized process and documentation for the exchange of information between the title expert (those who deal with the who and the what about the land) and the boundary expert (those who deal with the where of the land). Surveyors are trained to identify latent ambiguities in legal descriptions, and boundary encroachments. Surveyors interpret survey records and compare them with title records and the physical conditions on the ground to guard against potentially costly ambiguities and unauthorized use of lands.

How will the Boundary Standards benefit BIA and Tribal resource and facilities managers?

By providing a standardized process and documentation for the exchange of information between the resource and facilities managers (those who deal with the land resources and land uses) and the boundary expert (those who deal with the where of the land). Surveyors are trained to identify latent ambiguities in legal descriptions, and boundary encroachments. Surveyors interpret survey records and compare them with title records and the physical conditions on the ground to guard against potentially costly ambiguities and unauthorized use of lands.

 

Why should I have a surveyor conduct a Certification of Inspection and Possession (CIP)?

A surveyor brings the unique knowledge combination of title records, survey records, and boundary location evidence. A surveyor is trained to distinguish between corner monuments from spurious corners. In many cases, but not in all cases, the surveyor can tell by inspection, after some preliminary research, whether a fence or other use is or is not on the true boundary line.

 

What is Boundary Assurance?

Boundary Assurance is a land boundary management tool for trust and restricted land transactions and resource activities. Boundary Assurance is not a land survey. Boundary Assurance is a non-survey alternative which can be used by BIA, Tribes, and BLM for the purpose of assuring the boundary location either prior to or after a transaction and resource activity.

 

How is Boundary Assurance performed?

The Boundary Assurance process is the result of the latest innovative and advanced boundary management techniques, supported by automated survey and land records, photography, mapping, and computer software, which provides the BIA or Tribe with sufficient detail to satisfy their boundary management requirements.

 

Is it a survey?

No! While it is true that the Boundary Assurance process cannot furnish the kind of detail that would be available through an official survey, it is, as already noted, sufficiently specific and detailed to satisfy the BIA or Tribe's boundary management requirements in many cases.

 

Will Beneficiaries be misled?

The BIA and BLM's discussions with Tribes and Allottees emphasize the Boundary Assurance is not an official survey and does not satisfy the needs that can only be fulfilled by an official survey. Boundary Assurance can be sufficient to meet BIA or Tribe's own internal transactions and resource activities related to boundary location. Except for a complimentary copy of the Form given to the Tribe and Allottee at the completion of the process, there is no different use of distribution made of the Boundary Assurance. It is permanently filed by the BIA and BLM for future reference.

 

Has a cost analysis been made?

Yes. By better utilization of limited and specialized expertise the savings will be significant. It has been estimated that with implementation of the Boundary Standards a savings of 8% in direct costs and 6% in surveyor work months per year can be achieved. This is equivalent to 8 additional projects a year being completed, based upon fiscal year 2004 appropriated dollars. The potential savings in litigation avoidance is difficult to estimate but could be significant also.

 

What is a Certified Federal Surveyor(CFedS)?

A CFedS is a surveyor who has demonstrated their knowledge of boundary surveys in Indian Country by passing the rigorous BLM cadastral survey certification process. CFedS can conduct Boundary Assurance activities under the direction and control of the BLM.

 

What is a Pre-approved Agency or Tribal Official or Agent?

The Boundary Standards allow for pre-qualified BIA or Tribal employee or contractor to conduct Legal Description Reviews. This is a person who has demonstrated their knowledge of legal descriptions in Indian Country by passing rigorous BIA and BLM land tenure courses. This individual will execute Boundary Assurance Legal Description Reviews under the direction and control of the BLM.

 

Where is the increased capacity?

The Boundary Standards allows the U.S. to increase its cadastral services capacity without sacrificing quality. The creation of the Certified Federal Surveyor Program will utilize local expertise. Tribal members and BIA employees will be encouraged to become licensed land surveyors and federally certified. The creation of the Pre-approved Agency or Tribal Official or Agent program will also utilize local expertise. Tribal members and BIA employees will be encouraged to become proficient in legal description creation and review, and federally pre-approved.

 

Can the Boundary Standards be changed?

Yes. The Boundary Standards will be subject to amendment through due process when experience teaches us how to make them better.

 

Who bears the cost for the Boundary Standards process?

The department, agency, tribe, or land owner requesting the Boundary Standards is responsible for the cost.