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Frequently Asked Questions



  • What is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)?

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) may best be described as a small agency with a big mission:  To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America's public lands for the use nad enjoyment of present and future generations.  It adminsters more public land - over 245 million surface acres - than any other Federal agency in the United States.  Most of this land is located in the 12 Western states, including Alaska.  The BLM also manages 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation.

  • How does the BLM manage the public lands?

The BLM’s multiple-use mission, set forth in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, mandates that we manage public land resources for a variety of uses, such as energy development, livestock grazing, recreation, and timber harvesting, while protecting a wide array of natural, cultural, and historical resources, many of which are found in the BLM's 27 million-acre National Landscape Conservation System. The conservation system includes 221 Wilderness Areas totaling 8.7 million acres, as well as 16 National Monuments comprising 4.8 million acres.

The BLM does its complex and challenging work with an annual budget of more than $1 billion and a workforce of about 10,000 full-time employees. The BLM is one of a handful of Federal agencies that generates more revenue for the United States than it spends. For example, in Fiscal Year 2012, nearly $5 billion will be generated by activities on BLM-managed lands, including an estimated $4.3 billion from onshore oil and gas development, with about half of those revenues going to the states where the mineral leasing occurred.
The BLM is focusing on the following priorities:
  • The America’s Great Outdoors initiative, which is aimed at enhancing the conservation of BLM-managed lands and resources and reconnecting Americans to the outdoors.
  • The New Energy Frontier, which encourages and facilitates renewable energy development – solar, wind, and geothermal – on the Nation’s public lands.
  • Cooperative Landscape Conservation, a scientific initiative that recognizes the need to better understand the condition of BLM-managed landscapes at a broad level.
  • Youth in the Great Outdoors, which supports programs and partnerships that engage youth in natural resource management and encourages young people and their families to visit, explore, and learn about the public lands.
  • Climate Change, which is affecting public lands in ways that could impact on Americans’ quality of life. The BLM is responding with two interconnected initiatives: a proposed landscape approach to land management and Rapid Ecoregional Assessments, which will improve the agency’s understanding of public land conditions to inform future management decisions.
By strengthening existing and forging new partnerships with stakeholders, the BLM will ensure that the nation’s public lands are managed and conserved for future generations of Americans to use and enjoy.
  • What is FLPMA?

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 declared FLPMA the policy of the United States wherein: "....the public lands be retained in Federal ownership, unless as a result of the land use planning procedure provided in this Act, it is determined that disposal of a particular parcel will serve the national interest..." Through FLPMA, Congress made it clear that the public lands should be held in public ownership and managed for "multiple use," defined as: "The management of the public lands and their various resource values so that they are utilized in the combination that will best meet the present and future needs of the American people..."


  • What recreational opportunities are there on BLM's public lands?

BLM public lands offer more recreational opportunities over a broader geographical area than any other Federal land agency. In 1996, nearly 60 million people visited the public lands for recreational purposes, which included some of the following opportunities: hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, horseback riding, birding, off- roading, camping, and visiting historical, archaeological, and cultural sites.

  • Where can I get more information about recreational use on public land?

  - You can search our listings of BLM California recreation sites.
  - Or visit the BLM California Recreation Web page;
  - Or see the clickable map to find regional sites listed by each field office.
  - For BLM recreation sites in other states, visit that state's BLM Web site, or visit the nationwide Web site:, "your one-stop resource for information about recreation on federal lands."  The BLM also has a free map, "Outdoors America - Recreational Opportunities on Public Lands," that can be obtained at any State BLM office.


Public lands and homesteading

  • Does the government really have free land for homesteading?

         No. The days of homesteading lands and obtaining government land for $1.25 per acre are gone. The Homestead Act was repealed in 1976.

At the present time, the Department of Interior Policy for disposal of public lands is through the Federal Land Exchange program rather than competitive land sales.

BLM California's land exchange program involves acquiring private lands with resource values that we have identified for management by the federal government. In return, we convey public lands to private parties by exchange, either directly or by transferring the public lands from the exchange by either BLM or the third party.

  • Where are these public lands?

Almost all are in the western states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.

  • How are these lands selected for sale or exchange?

The law states that the BLM can select lands for sale if, through land use planning, they are found to meet one of three criteria: 1) they are scattered, isolated tracts, difficult or uneconomic to manage; 2) they were acquired for a specific purpose and are no longer needed for that purpose; or 3) disposal of the land will serve important public objectives, such as community expansion and economic development.

  • What do the lands look like?

Land types vary widely. Some may be desert; some are rural. Some are small parcels of just a few acres; some are several hundred acres in size.

  • Is any land suitable for farming?

         Most public lands have little or no agricultural potential.

  • On the average, what would the public land cost per acre?

There is no "average" cost. Each parcel is evaluated separately through established appraisal procedures, based on the value of surrounding parcels. Fair market value is determined for each parcel. No parcel can be sold for less than fair market value.

  • Where can I find out about land that is available?

Your best source is the BLM office with jurisdiction over the area you're interested in. In California, jurisdiction is by BLM Field Office.  See a clickable map of each Field Office's management area in California. Find out more about BLM offices in other states through their Web sites.


  • How do I locate and file a mining claim? (How do 'I stake' a claim)?

Before you can locate a claim, you must determine if the lands are, in fact, open to location. You can find this out at any BLM office. No claims can be staked in areas closed to mineral entry under certain acts, regulations, or public land orders. We refer to these as withdrawn lands. The BLM State Offices and Field Offices have appropriate surface management status maps and records for you to make this determination, and they are readily available for your inspection. On lands open to location, you may prospect and properly locate claims and sites.

If lands have already been claimed, you will need to find another location. Most State Offices maintain a record of these locations on Legacy Rehost 2000 (LR2000). They are available online by geographic report, serial number index, claim name index, and claimant's name index reports. The Field Offices also have computers to search for these same reports (i.e., geographic and claimant indices, etc.) for your use. If your parcel of land is open to location, the next step is staking the claim. Federal law specifies that claim boundaries must be distinctly and clearly marked to be readily identifiable. Individual state statutes have more detailed requirements for marking boundaries. For specific state requirements contact the local BLM California Field Office or other BLM State Offices.

  • What documentation is required this year?

Recordation of mining claims - location notices for claims and sites must be recorded with BOTH the county recorder's office AND the BLM State Office. ALL CLAIMS AND SITES have 90 days from date of location to record claims. File the original notice with the appropriate county recorder (within 90 days from the date of location that you wrote on your Location Notice form), and file a duplicate notice (within the same 90 days of the date of location) with the Bureau of Land Management, California State Office, 2800 Cottage Way Suite W1834, Sacramento, CA 95825.  You can obtain a Location Notices' forms by calling 916-978-4400.  Bookmark this webpage:  Information page.   This is the Public Room web page.

For more information, see "Locating a Mining Claim/Site" in the BLM California Web pages.

  • How can I obtain information about surface mining and other mineral resources?

For information about California sites, visit our surface mining Web page. For information about other states, contact the BLM office for that state.


  - What is the cost of an oil and gas lease?
  - When is the next oil and gas lease sale?
  - How can I obtain more information about oil and gas leasing?


  •  How can I obtain BLM maps? 

A map index and order form are available at any BLM State Office to assist you in your selection. For more information, check our "Maps Available for Sale" page.

  • How much do they cost?

Our map prices vary with the types of maps.  See "Maps Available for Sale" page.  Or, call 916-978-4400.


  •  Is it true the BLM sells wild horses and burros?
  • What are wild horses and burros and how wild are they?

A wild horse or burro is an unbranded, unclaimed, free-roaming horse or burro found on BLM or U.S. Forest Service administered land in the western United States. Wild horses and burros are descendants of animals released by or escaped from Spanish explorers, ranchers, miners, soldiers, or Native Americans.

  • Why does the Federal Government offer wild horses and burros for adoption?

The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service are responsible for the management and protection of wild horses and burros on public lands. Federal protection and a scarcity of natural predators results in thriving herds that increase in population each year.

For additional information on these questions -- and more -- visit the BLM National Office

Also visit the BLM national office pages to learn how you can  adopt wild horses and burros over the Internet.  To view California, please see adopt wild horses and burros


  •  What is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

The Freedom of information Act (FOIA), enacted in 1966, provides public access to Federal agency records. This right of access is enforceable in court, except for records that are protected from disclosure by the nine exemptions to the FOIA.

  • What information is available under the FOIA?

FOIA provides access to agency records generated by that agency (or releasable portions of those records) -- except those protected from release by nine specific exemptions.

Note: many Bureau files - for example, surveys, land ownership, mining claims, rights-of-way, patents, grazing leases and permits, timber sales, etc. - are public records.  A FOIA request is NOT needed to review or copy such files.

  • The following are the nine FOIA exemptions and the information they cover:
    1. Classified national defense and foreign relations information;
    2. Internal agency personnel rules and practices;
    3. Material prohibited from disclosure by another law;
    4. Trade secrets and other confidential business information;
    5. Certain inter-agency, or intra-agency communications;
    6. Personnel, medical, and other files involving personal privacy;
    7. Certain records compiled for law enforcement purposes;
    8. Matters relating to financial institutions;
    9. and Geological information on oil wells.
  • How long will it take to answer my request?

Federal agencies are required to answer your request for information within 20-working days of receipt of your request at the office responsible for the records (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays). For FOIA request received by e-mail, the "receipt" date is considered the date the e-mail message is opened by the Bureau responsible for the information. Sometimes an agency may need more than 20-working days to find the records, examine them, possibly consult with other persons or agencies, and decide whether it may disclose the records requested. If so, the agency is required to inform you before the deadline. Agencies have the right to extend this period up to 10 working days.

  • How should I make a FOIA request?

A FOIA request must be made in writing to the agency/office that has the records. The envelope and face of the written request should be marked "Freedom of Information Act Request." The request should identify the records that are being sought, as specifically as possible. Your name, address and telephone number should be included for the processing of your request.

  • Is there a cost?

Fees vary with the status or purpose of the requester. A requester may have to provide additional information to permit the agency to determine appropriate fees.  For more information, visit: the Bureau of Land Management National Office FOIA page; or, the U.S. Department of Interior FOIA page.