Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office

Lands and Realty

The Palm Springs - South Coast Field Office currently processes applications for the following California counties: Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and San Diego County. The South Coast portion of our field office encompases about 296 separate parcels of land for a total of 128,500 acres.

The Lands and Realty Division handles all Rights-Of-Way Applications, Land Exchanges, Airport Leases, Withdrawls, Trespass issues, Temporary Use Permits, and Recreation and Public Purpose Leases.

Each year we receive dozens of applications for various land uses, and phone calls regarding proposed uses of public lands from public and private entities.  We handle requests for Rights-Of-Way Applications, Land Exchanges, Airport Leases, Withdrawls, Trespass issues, Temporary Use Permits, Film Permits, and Recreation and Public Purpose Leases.

Wind Energy

Land Exchanges

Land Acquisitions

R & PP's (Recreation and Public Purposes)

Rights of Way

Land Use Permits


Land Exchanges

In an attempt to better manage the public lands and its resources, the BLM, Palm Springs - South Coast Field Office, has identified lands with the potential for  exchange out of federal ownership.   These lands are isolated parcels which are difficult and uneconomical to manage in federal ownership. Putting these lands into private ownership will consolidate private land holdings, increase the county tax base, and generate other positive economic impacts. However, not all of the parcels identified will be exchanged out of public ownership. Based on past experience, about 1020% of the parcels considered for exchange will be found suitable. Public lands with rare plants, endangered animals, unique wildlife habitat, cultural resources, significant environmental values, or mining claims will not be transferred into private ownership.

In exchange for this Federal land, the United States is acquiring private land located in high priority areas such as wilderness, ACES=s, national monuments, preserves and others.  The value of the federal lands disposed of in this exchange will be used to acquire private land from willing sellers. These lands have important recreational and exceptional environmental values that should be protected and managed by public agencies.


Land Acquisitions

The land acquisition strategy in the Palm Springs - South Coast Field Office involves two primary goals.   First, lands shall be acquired if they possess unusually valuable or unique resources such as rare or endangered plant or animal species or habitat, unique soils, river frontage and riparian areas, wetlands, scenic vistas, cultural and historical resources, areas of exceptional recreation opportunities and other similar precious resources.

Second, lands that improve manageability of existing public lands may be acquired. This includes lands that increase access to public land or provide for a more contiguous land ownership pattern.  Acquisition  may be by exchange, purchase or donation.  Fee title and easements will be utilized  to acquire land or interests in land depending upon the circumstances.

Recreation and Public Purposes (R&PP)

The Recreation and Public Purposes (R & PP) Act authorizes the sale or lease of public lands for recreational or public purposes to State and local governments, and to qualified nonprofit organizations at a reduced cost. Examples of typical uses under the act are historic monument sites, campgrounds, schools, fire stations, law enforcement facilities, municipal facilities, landfills, hospitals, parks, shooting ranges, and fairgrounds.

The Recreation and Public Purposes Act was enacted by Congress as a recognition of the strong public need for a nationwide system of parks and other recreation and public purpose areas. Our expanding urban populations, increased mobility and leisure time, and higher standard of living have created a demand for more and better recreation facilities. By the same token, urban expansion and a growing population have increased the need for more public services.

Anyone intending to submit an application should have a consultation with our office prior to submitting the application. The consultation will cover such items as land status, application filing requirements, application processing steps, and BLM policies and objectives. In addition, the management responsibilities for the lessee or grantee and the terms and conditions which may be required in a lease or sale, will be discussed, along with pricing policy, land use planning, and time frames for application processing. To find out more about the R & PP Act call the Palm Springs - South Coast Field Office at (760) 251-4800.


Each year, thousands of individuals and companies apply to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to obtain a rights-of-way. A rights-of-way grant is an authorization to use a specific piece of public land for certain projects, such as roads, pipelines, transmission lines, and communication sites. The grant authorizes rights and privileges for a specific use of the land for a specified period of time. The BLM places a high priority on working with applicants on proposed rightsofway to provide for the protection of resource values and to process applications expeditiously.

When you Do and When You Don't Need a Rights-of-Way

As a general rule, you do need a right-of-way whenever you wish to build a project on the public lands.  You don't need a rights-of-way for so called "casual use." What kinds of activities are considered "casual use"?  Examples include driving vehicles over existing roads, sampling, surveying, marking routes, traveling on existing roads to private property, collecting data to prepare an application for a rights-of-way, and performing certain activities that do not unduly disturb the surface or require extensive removal of vegetation.

Depending on the specifics of your proposed activity, some rights-of-way uses on the public lands can be either casual use, or use requiring a grant. It's a good idea to contact the BLM and discuss your plans before assuming your use is casual. The Field Office Manager can then make a judgement on the requirements in your particular case.

Examples are listed below of land uses requiring rights-of-way grants. A rightofway grant must be obtained before construction or use of any kind may begin.

Typical Land Uses Requiring RightofWay Grants

Water-Related Systems

Oil and Gas
& Related

& Distribution

& Reception





other electronics


Remember to Plan Ahead

You should arrange for your pre-application meeting well in advance of when you would like to start work on the project. Processing time for an average grant is 150 to 180 days. However, grants for complex projects can take much longer. Try to contact the BLM as soon as possible. With the heavy workload in the Palm Springs - South Coast Field Office it can be up to 60 days before our realty staff first views and begins to process the application.  The Field Office Manager and staff are ready to provide information, advice, and assistance to help you prepare an application.

Land Use Permits

Permits authorize the use of public lands for up to three (3) years and the use involves little or no land improvement, construction, or  investment. A permit conveys no possessory interest, but may be renewed when it expires. Common permitted uses include, commercial filming or still photography, apiaries (bee hives), geological and hydrological testing, and some military activities.

To apply for a land use permit, please arrange a preapplication meeting with the Field Office Manager or appropriate staff member in the BLM Office with management responsibility for the land where the permit is needed. Please apply for your permits early. By law there must be a thirty (30) day waiting period from the time the application is filed to the time the permit can be issued.


Trespass is defined as unauthorized use, occupancy, or development of the public lands for any purpose where authorization must be obtained. Trespass activities have resulted in financial losses to the United States because of the loss of rental fees, road use and maintenance fees, and damage to the public land resources from misuse, abuse, fire, theft, vandalism, and negligence.

The BLM has tried to resolve cases involving unauthorized uses, most of which are unintentional, by working with the individual and negotiating an amicable solution. However, some trespasses are committed knowingly and willfully. In these instances the BLM attempts to obtain payment for the use of the lands and where appropriate, imposes civil and /or criminal penalties against those trespassing on the public lands.

Trespassing includes dumping trash and debris, placing advertising signs, constructing roads, building storage, and occupying (living).  If you observe any of these activities on public lands, please contact your local BLM office to have the activity investigated.