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BLM
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
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Chapter 4
Land Tenure Management Guidelines

Land Tenure Adjustments

The BLM land ownership pattern is a result of the various land disposal actions of the Federal government in the 1800's and early 1900's. BLM's parent agency, the General Land Office, disposed of millions of acres of Federal land in California under the homesteading, mining and other land entry laws. In addition, large areas of Federal land were set aside for National Parks, National Forests, Indian Reservations, and military bases. The Federal lands that remained in the public domain are the lands BLM manages today. In most areas, the resulting BLM land ownership pattern is a fragmented array of intermingled public and private lands that is often difficult to manage. To improve the manageability of the BLM lands and improve their usefulness to the public, BLM has numerous authorities for "repositioning" lands into a more consolidated pattern, disposing of lands, and entering into cooperative management agreements. These land pattern improvements are completed primarily through the use of land exchanges, but also through land sales, jurisdictional transfers to other agencies, and through the use of cooperative management agreements and leases. These ownership or jurisdictional changes are referred as "Land Tenure Adjustments".

The Bureau will work closely with the local government and local landowners when repositioning lands, in order to maintain a balance of public/private acreage within counties and retain consistency with local land uses and zoning when parcels enter the private sector. The Bureau will work with willing landowners in repositioning lands. The Bureau will make government patents subject to valid third party rights, such as rights-of-way or leases. In offering BLM lands to the public during the repositioning process, the Bureau will give priority to existing lessees and to adjacent landowners.

This plan identifies three land tenure adjustment classifications: Reposition, New Manager, and Cooperative Management. Refer to the table below for acreages, and to the map packet for a graphical representation of these classes. Until BLM lands are actually realigned, lands will remain under BLM jurisdiction and will be managed under existing laws and regulations and in accordance under the objectives outlined in this plan.

All other BLM lands not in these land tenure adjustment classes will be retained in Federal ownership under BLM jurisdiction. These areas consist mainly of the designated wilderness and wilderness study areas, the Carrizo Plain and Lokern Natural ACECs, and lands along the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. BLM will consider minor modification of the boundaries of the areas through land exchanges to improve the management of these areas. These exchanges will generally involve BLM parcels of 640 acres or less. In addition, there may be some small, isolated parcels of BLM land that were overlooked when developing the maps for this plan, and are within a retention zone.  These are generally 40 acres or less in size, and they are considered suitable for repositioning as described under the "Reposition" classification.

APPROXIMATE ACREAGE OF BLM SURFACE OWNERSHIP IN LAND TENURE ADJUSTMENT CLASSES

 

COAST

VALLEY

SOUTH SIERRA

TOTALS

REPOSITION

9,500

80,000

113,500

203,000

NEW MANAGER

17,500

7,000

0

24,500

COOP MGMT

0

5,400

53,500

58,900

RETAIN AS BLM

0

200,000

109,000

309,000

Totals

27,000

292,400

276,000

595,400

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Reposition Management Classification

BLM lands in this management class will be considered for repositioning for greater management efficiencies, better service to the public, and to meet the overall objectives of this plan, such as endangered species conservation and recovery, recreational and community enhancement, and wilderness management.

The primary method of repositioning these lands will be through the land exchange process (see Exchange Overview below). BLM lands in this category will undergo site specific resource investigations prior to any decision to reposition the land. Therefore, it is expected that not all land parcels in this category will be found suitable for repositioning.  Public involvement in each individual land exchange will be available, as outlined in the Overview below.

If site specific inventories of the reposition properties indicate they contain values important for conservation, they will be retained in place or targeted only for repositioning to locations where the acquisition parcel would support the same values as the reposition parcel. For instance, a reposition parcel in the San Joaquin Valley may be found suitable following site review for exchange only for other properties with San Joaquin Valley-type habitat. It may also prove to contain resource values, such as plant habitat, that could contribute best to the conservation needs of the Valley if managed in place as a "specialty plant reserve". If the latter were true, the parcel would be retained and evaluated for potential to become a target area for consolidation of other reposition parcels. If the site specific inventories indicate the parcel does not contain values contributing to conservation needs, the parcel would be available to assist in public land consolidation needs.

Each of the three Management Areas outlines varying consolidation needs based on the management objectives for the management area. For example, in the Valley Management Area consolidation targets include the core conservation areas identified in Kern County Valley Habitat Conservation Plan. Additionally, consolidation targets include areas within or adjacent to designated Wilderness or wilderness study areas, ACEC's, SMA's, and lands that would improve access to large blocks of BLM land.

Lands to be acquired in the consolidation processes will be sought only from willing parties. No condemnation or threat of condemnation will be used. To the extent possible, a balance of acres within the six affected counties will be sought, so that no county will shoulder a disproportionate share of Federal holdings. The anticipated timeframe for this repositioning is over the life of this plan, which is approximately 15 years.

This category would also allow for land sales, although sale would be considered infrequently and limited to those small parcels where the value would not warrant the inclusion of the parcel in a land exchange process. These types of situations generally occur only in areas with a history of survey error or small encroachments on public land boundaries.

New Manager Classification

BLM lands in this management class have been determined to be potentially suitable for management by an agency or organization other than BLM. A "New Manager" will be sought for these lands in order to increase management efficiency and enhance the properties contribution to other natural resource management initiatives. Processes to accomplish this would include administrative withdrawals to other Federal agencies, Congressional withdrawals through special legislation, R&PP Act conveyances, exchanges to other governmental entities such as State or County agencies, or exchange to nonprofit conservation organizations.

These are areas that have a high potential for linkage and contribution to existing or planned natural resource management programs by other government or land stewardship entities. Examples of these actions might include additions to Montano de Oro State Park and Point Sal State Beach through R&PP Act conveyances,

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additions to Los Padres National Forest through withdrawal or special legislation, and additions to County Park systems through exchanges or R&PP Act conveyance. All ACECs and SMAs in the Coast Management Area are included in this category.

In some instances, it may be necessary to improve the suitability of the parcels to the prospective natural resource manager. In such instances, the Bureau would focus interim management on improving the management situation.  An example might be to acquire additional adjacent lands or acquire access to facilitate management or removal of liabilities associated with abandoned mine sites or materials.

Other than the ACECs and SMAs, if these parcels fail to prove suitable for integration into other entities' management programs, they will be considered suitable for repositioning through land exchanges under the "Reposition" parameters outlined above.

Cooperative Management Classification

BLM lands in this management class will generally remain under BLM jurisdiction. However, because of their location and the local land pattern, it is possible to maximize management efficiency by cooperatively managing these areas with adjacent agencies or other BLM offices. These areas include the Three Rivers area (with National Park Service), the Lake Isabella area (with U.S. Forest Service), Horse Canyon area (with State Parks), and the Kettleman Hills area (with BLM Hollister Resource Area). Factors such as fire response, law enforcement, camping regulations, visitor services, livestock grazing, etc. make cooperative management of these areas a logical choice. Whenever possible, BLM will attempt to match its management objectives for these areas with the adjacent land managers.

Processes to accomplish this would include Memoranda of Understanding and Cooperative Agreements with the other agencies and BLM offices.

Other than the ACECs and SMAs, some BLM lands in this classification may not attract a cooperative manager, and may present an opportunity for repositioning, as described under the "Reposition" classification. Any such repositioning would occur only after site-specific resource investigations and public involvement.

Fee Acquisition Needs

Occasionally, BLM has opportunities to acquire lands in fee through methods other than land exchanges. These include land donations from private parties or other governmental agencies, and purchases using funds appropriated by Congress or using compensation funds. When these opportunities arise, lands will be sought from willing sellers only, and will be sought in order to meet the management objectives of this plan. These acquisition initiatives will be coordinated with local government, adjoining landowners and other parties of interest. Lands that have the following characteristics are those that are most important in meeting fee acquisition needs:

Lands within or adjacent to designated wilderness areas or wilderness study areas.

Lands within or adjacent to ACECs or SMAs

Lands with threatened or endangered species habitat such as core conservation areas identified in the Kern County Valley Habitat Conservation Plan.

Lands that will improve the pattern of public lands in the area.

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Access Acquisition Needs

Many BLM lands do not have legal access, and are thereby difficult to manage for BLM personnel and difficult to use by the public. Many of the BLM lands in the Caliente Resource Area have been identified for repositioning, therefore the establishment of legal access to these lands is not critical to BLM's mission. However, certain lands are planned for retention under BLM jurisdiction, even though they currently lack legal access. The establishment of legal access easements to these lands will enhance their management and better serve the public interest. In some cases where a parcel is planned for a New Manager, it may be necessary for BLM to acquire access prior to transferring the parcel to the New Manager.

Specific areas where access easements are needed will be identified in Activity Level Plans, in conjunction with adjacent landowners, New Managers, and other cooperators. In general, these areas will be the ACECs and SMAs identified in this plan. Access easements to be acquired would then undergo a site-specific analysis to determine the level of access needed (road, trail, exclusive, etc.), a specific route, environmental effects, and any restrictions that would be appropriate.

Overview of the BLM Land Exchange Process

(Refer to Code of Federal Regulations, Part 43, Subpart 2200)

1. Land exchange proposal made by BLM or a private individual or organization.

2. Proposal is initially screened by BLM for conformance with the BLM Resource Management Plan and for any obvious impediments, whether legal or environmental. An initial site resource review is done by BLM staff, for both the BLM lands and the private lands.

3. BLM determines if proposal is initially acceptable or unacceptable.

4. If acceptable, an Agreement to Initiate Exchange is signed by BLM and proponent. Costs of processing the exchange are normally shared equally by both BLM and proponent, which can amount to several thousand or tens of thousands of dollars.

5. Public comments on the proposal are solicited in a 45 day comment period. A Notice of Exchange Proposal is published once a week for four consecutive weeks in a local newspaper. The notice is sent to the exchange proponent, adjacent landowners, authorized users of the BLM land including grazing permittees, oil and gas lessees, right-of-way holders, local Congressional delegates, County Planning
Departments, County Boards of Supervisors, local Native American representatives, and other parties of interest.

6. An appraisal is requested to estimate the fair market value of all lands in the exchange, usually using the comparable sale method.

7. Site-specific field visits are performed and an environmental assessment document is produced. This document addresses the impacts of the exchange on cultural resources, endangered species, hazardous materials, mineral production, and recreation, as well as social, economic, legal impacts. Comments received on the proposal are also analyzed in this document.

8. Title evidence is obtained for the private lands and reviewed by BLM. At time of closing, private lands must have title that is acceptable to BLM, i.e. no mortgages, deeds of trust, liens, taxes due, floating easements, etc.

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9. A Notice of Decision is published once in a local newspaper and sent to parties of interest.

10. BLM obtains a commitment for title insurance, along with a proforma title policy.

11. BLM issues land patent concurrently with recordation of grant deed to the U.S., in an escrow process. Patents will be made subject to any outstanding third party interest, such as rights-of-way and leases.

12. A title policy is obtained on the "new" BLM lands. The "new" BLM land will be managed for the purpose for which it was acquired and in conformance with the BLM Resource Management Plan. Lands placed into private ownership fall under the jurisdiction of local land use plans and ordinances.

Classifications and Withdrawals

There are approximately 200 land classifications and withdrawals within the Caliente Resource Area. They affect BLM land, federal lands under other agency jurisdictions and private lands. Many represent actions taken under outdated authorities and land management needs no longer current, having been replaced by other authorities. They are for purposes such as establishing National Parks, National Forests, wilderness areas, Indian Reservations, administrative sites, powers sites, public ater reserves, public roads, grazing districts, NCLWMALs, protection of natural areas, naval petroleum reserves, botanical areas, wildlife sanctuaries and lighthouses. In addition to withdrawals and classifications on BLM land, and with the exception of Congressional withdrawals (National Parks, Forests, Indian reservations, etc.), BLM has responsibility for review of classifications and withdrawals on public lands administered by other federal agencies, such as the Forest Service and National Park Service. In a few cases, BLM official plats note withdrawals or classifications on private lands. Under Section 204 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), BLM has been given the responsibility of reviewing all land classifications and withdrawals on the BLM lands. Based on a general review of the classifications and withdrawals in effect at the time of this plan, the following guidelines are established for the withdrawal review process:

All multiple use classifications, public sale classifications, Desert Land Entry classifications, stock driveways, and unused public water reserves will be terminated.

All R&PP Act classifications for lands that have been conveyed to private parties will be terminated.

All unused power site classifications, power site reserves, reservoir site reservations, and power project withdrawals will be terminated or modified.

All temporary classifications or withdrawals that have expired or are not serving the purpose for which they were originally intended, will be terminated.

Any other unused or outdated classifications or withdrawals will be terminated or modified.

Classifications and withdrawals on other agency or private lands will be examined in detail at some time in the future, in consultation with the appropriate agency or landowner. With the concurrence of the appropriate agency or landowner, all unused or unnecessary classifications and withdrawals will either be terminated or modified to reduce the affected area. Based on a general review of the classifications and withdrawals in effect at the time of this plan, the following guidelines are established for the withdrawal review process:

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All unused power site classifications, power site reserves, reservoir site reservations, and power project withdrawals will be terminated or modified.

All temporary classifications or withdrawals that are have expired or are not serving the purpose for which they were originally intended, will be terminated.

All withdrawals for unused administrative sites, lighthouses, and roadside zones will be terminated or modified.

Any other unused or outdated classifications or withdrawals will be terminated or modified.

The following table list the classifications and withdrawals being terminated following the above guidelines.

Withdrawals/Classifications Terminating

BLM Classificationsations

Location

Agency

Order #

Date

Purpose

T. 17 S., R. 28 E., M.D.M.

BLM

BLM Order

11/02/76

Public Sale Classification S 528

T. 26 S., R.  8 E., M.D.M.

BLM

BLM Order

09/06/68

R&PP CL S 080447

T. 26 S., R.  9 E., M.D.M.

BLM

BLM Order

10/15/75

Public Water Reserve 107 (CA 3295)

T. 26 S., R. 32 E., M.D.M.

BLM

BLM Order

11/18/67

Multiple Use Classification (S 573)

T. 28 S., R. 12 E., M.D.M.

BLM

BLM Order

12/23/74

Intpr Public Water Reserve 107

T. 28 S., R. 32 E., M.D.M.

BLM

BLM Order

04/17/69

Cl Multiple Use S 1795

T. 28 S., R. 33 E., M.D.M.

BLM

BLM Order

04/11/38

Intpr Public Water Reserve 107

T. 29 S., R. 19 E., M.D.M.      

BLM

BLM Order

05/09/70

Cl Multiple Use ( S 2576)

T. 29 S., R. 32 E., M.D.M.      

BLM

BLM Order

05/14/70

Cl Multiple Use (S 1795)

T. 30 S., R. 23 E., M.D.M.    

BLM

BLM Order

11/30/84

Desert Land Entry Cl (CA 1584)

T. 30 S., R. 33 E., M.D.M.      

BLM

BLM Order

08/04/50

Intpr Public Water Reserve 107

T. 31 S., R. 10 E., M.D.M.    

BLM

BLM Order

03/01/67

R&PP Cl - S 079231

T. 31 S., R. 14 E., M.D.M.  

BLM

BLM Order

12/22/66

R&PP Cl - S 080284

T. 31 S., R. 24 E., M.D.M.  

BLM

BLM Order

06/03/75

Desert Land Entry S 4472-C (unsuitable)

T. 32 S., R. 16 E., M.D.M.  

BLM

BLM Order

01/22/71

Public Sale Cl S 271 (non-suitable)

T. 32 S., R. 24 E., M.D.M.   

BLM

BLM Order

05/09/70

Cl Multiple Use (S 2576)

T. 32 S., R. 26 E., M.D.M.

BLM

BLM Order

12/4/85

Desert Land Entry Cl CA 13735 (unsuitable)

T.  4 N., R. 23 W., S.B.M.

BLM

BLM Order

03/31/58

Small Tract Cl ST 585

T. 11 N., R. 17 W., S.B.M.

BLM

BLM Order

01/22/73

Public Sale Classification (R 2791)

T. 11 N., R. 23 W., S.B.M.

BLM

BLM Order

05/09/70

Multiple Use Classification (R 2231)

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