Land and Mineral Ownership

How do I find out who owns a parcel of land?

What does BLM mean by "patents"? 

I've heard that if I re-record a patent for land on which my home sits, with the County Clerk and Recorder, I won't have to pay taxes, won't need to deal with zoning laws, and won't need a passport, is that true? 

What is Color-of-Title?   - Fact Sheet 

What is a Land Exchange?

How can I obtain the mineral rights under my property?  - Fact Sheet

What is a Recordable Disclaimer of Interest (RDI)?  - Fact Sheet

 


How do I find out who owns a parcel of land?

Consult your local county courthouse records to determine who owns a specific parcel. 

What does BLM mean by "patents"?

There are land and mineral patents.  A patent is a legal document that transfers title for land and/or minerals from the federal government to nonfederal ownership.

I've heard that if I re-record a patent for land on which my home sits, with the County Clerk and Recorder, I won't have to pay taxes, won't need to deal with zoning laws, and won't need a passport, is that true?

No.  Land title passed from the Federal government to non-Federal ownership becomes subject to taxation, planning, and zoning under State and local government laws.

What is Color-of-Title?

The Color-of-Title Act provides that any individual, group, or corporation who has evidence giving the appearance of having title to public lands which are administered by the BLM, and legal title to the lands remains vested in the United States, may file a color-of-title claim.  An applicant will receive a patent conveying clear title to the lands upon payment of the sale price of the lands if they meet the requirements for a class 1 or class 2 claim.  In other words, the Act provides a way citizens can gain clear title to land they believed to belong to them.

Class 1 Claim - Public lands held in good faith and peaceful, adverse possession by a claimant in interest for a minimum of 20 years under claim or color of title, and upon which the claimant in interest have placed valuable improvements, or on which some part of the land has been reduced to cultivation.  In other words, public lands in someone's possession for at least 20 years that they have improved through buildings or agriculture cultivation.

Class 2 Claim - Public lands held in good faith and peaceful, adverse possession by a claimant in interest under claim or color of title initiated no later than January 1, 1901, and for which the claimant in interest have paid State and local taxes from initiation of the claim to the date of application.  Public lands someone believed was their's or their families where the family has paid taxes every year since 1901.

Application Procedures - Applications must be filed in the Eastern States Office using BLM Forms 2540-1 and 2540-2 for both Class 1 and 2 claims and in addition, BLM Form 2540-3 is required for Class 2 claims. To access these BLM forms: click here.

What is a Land Exchange?

The process of "trading" or "swapping" lands is referred to as exchange.  Public lands may be exchanged by the BLM for lands owned by corporations, individuals, States or local governments. Exchanges are only pursued with willing landowners.  The lands to be exchanged must be of equal monetary value and located within the same State.  Through exchanges, non-Federal parties can acquire lands with commercial, industrial, residential, or agricultural development or economic potential.  In turn, the Federal government acquires lands offering public recreation, open space, wildlife, and resource values.  Acquiring land through exchange:
•   is considered before pursuing purchase as Federal "purchase" funds are limited.
•   places public lands in private ownership for local needs. 
•   consolidates ownership of scattered tracts of land for more efficient and less costly management of resources.

How can I obtain the mineral rights under my property?

The BLM regulations establish procedures under section 209 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, for conveyance of mineral interests owned by the United States where the surface is or will be in non-Federal ownership.  The objective is to allow consolidation of surface and subsurface or mineral ownership where there are no "known mineral values" or in those instances where the reservation interferes with or precludes appropriate non-mineral development and such development is a more beneficial use of the land than the mineral development.

Application Procedures - Applications must be filed in the appropriate BLM District Office.  No specific form is required but each application shall include the name, legal mailing address and telephone number of the existing or prospective record owner of the land; proof of ownership; a certified copy of any patent or other instrument of conveyance with supporting survey evidence.  The application must also include a statement concerning the nature of federally-reserved or owned mineral values in the land; existing and proposed uses of the land; why the reservation of the mineral interests in the U.S. is interfering with or precluding appropriate non-mineral development; how and why such development would be a more beneficial use of the land; a showing that the proposed use complies with state and local zoning requirement; and a non-refundable filing fee of $50.00 and administrative fee of $2,500.00.  Please note that these fees in no way insure favorable action on an application.

What is a Recordable Disclaimer of Interest (RDI)?

Section 315 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the Code of Federal Regulations 43 CFR 1864 allows the Secretary of the Interior, under certain conditions, to issue a "disclaimer of interest" where the disclaimer will help remove a cloud on the title of such lands.  The objective of the disclaimer is to eliminate the necessity for court action or private legislation in those instances where the United States asserts no ownership or record interest, based on a determination by the BLM that there is a cloud on the title to the lands, attributable to the United States, and that an interest of the United States has terminated by operation of law or is otherwise invalid.  The original regulations on Conveyances, Disclaimers and Correction Documents (43 CFR 1864) were promulgated September 6, 1984.  These regulations were revised on January 6, 2003, [Federal Register Vol. 68, No. 3] effective February 5, 2003.

Application Procedures - Applications must be filed in the appropriate BLM District Office. No specific form is required but each application shall include the name, legal mailing address and telephone number of the applicant.  The applicant must submit all documents which show to the satisfaction of BLM the applicant’s title to the lands; and a non-refundable filing fee of $100.00 and administrative fee of $2,500.00.  Please note that these fees in no way insure favorable action on an application.