Rights of Way

Right of way is the privilege to pass over or through land owned by another party using some particular path.  A right-of-way (ROW) is a land use authorization allowing construction and operation of a specific project — often involving transportation (highway, railroad; public or private passage) or commercial conveyance (pipelines and communication or power poles) — on identified lands.

ROW is also used to refer to the land — usually a strip — authorized for use in one or more of these ways.  The BLM issues ROW grants to authorize the use of a right of way over, upon, under, or through public lands for construction, maintenance, and termination of a project for a specified period of time. 

Any project that would cause or result in appreciable alteration to public lands requires a ROW grant from the BLM.  Examples include electric transmission lines, communications sites (towers and related facilities), new roads or highways, trails, telephone/fiber optic lines, canals, flumes, pipelines, and reservoirs.

Like other surface owners, the BLM charges rental fees for use of ROWs and is also authorized to recover the costs of processing an ROW application and monitoring the ROW grant after it is issued.

Wind and solar energy projects proposed for public lands are processed as ROW applications.  So are energy transport projects such as oil & natural gas pipelines and power transmission lines.  Projects involving construction of poles or towers used for communications (cellphone/ broadband, microwave, broadcast) on public lands also use ROWs.


Transmission line at sunset