U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
EMS TRANSMISSION 02/23/2007
Instruction Memorandum No. 2007-063
To: All Field Officials
From: Assistant Director, Minerals, Realty and Resource Protection
Subject: Segregation of Public Lands Being Considered for Sale
Program Areas: Lands and Realty – Sales
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides guidance on implementing revised regulations, effective on December 20, 2006, on the segregation of lands being considered for sale under Section 203 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA).
Policy/Action: Segregation of lands being considered for sale is an important component in case processing to preclude incompatible actions, such as the filing of mining claims. Field Offices are directed to publish a “segregation” Notice of Realty Action (NORA) at the beginning of case processing for the proposed sale of public land(s). An example of a segregation NORA and briefing paper is attached. The purposes of this NORA are to segregate the lands from all forms of entry including appropriation under the public land laws, and the mining laws and mineral leasing laws, except for the sale provisions of the FLPMA, and to invite comments for consideration in the environmental analysis on the proposed sale from interested parties and the general public. The segregation NORA may not be required if the public lands are within a withdrawn area, unless additional segregation is necessary or the existing withdrawal or a classification must be terminated in order to proceed with the proposed sale. Even if a segregation NORA is not necessary, Field Offices should consider an alternative notification, either through a news release or public notice that would be published in local newspapers and mailed to interested parties to invite comments on the proposed sale.
Publication of a segregation NORA will not negate the need to publish a NORA in conjunction with the decision on the proposed sale. This NORA will serve the same purposes as NORAs published in the past, including identifying the lands being offered for sale and the terms and conditions for the sale. Previous guidance on the requirements for this NORA is still in effect. However, this NORA would also be an opportunity to terminate the segregation for lands identified in a segregation NORA that are no longer being considered for sale.
The revised regulations specify the initial term of segregation is two years, but that the segregation may be extended for two additional years, on a case-by case basis. A segregation period may be made for less than two years if the authorized officer determines that a shorter timeframe would be sufficient. The BLM State Director must determine the extension is necessary, document, in writing why the extension is needed, and publish an additional NORA for the extension. Sale actions should generally be completed within the initial two-year period, and extensions should primarily be considered in response to circumstances that are not under the BLM’s control, such as protests or appeals of the decision that cannot be resolved within the initial two-year period.
Timeframe: This IM is effective immediately.
Background: On November 20, 2006, a final rule was published in the Federal Register that revises the regulations under 43 CFR Part 2090 and Part 2710 to provide for the segregation of lands being considered for sale for a period of up to two years. On a case-by-case basis, the initial period of segregation may be extended up to two additional years. The rule is effective on December 20, 2006.
The 270-day segregation period under the prior regulations was found to be insufficient to conduct the necessary reviews and other administrative actions in the normal course of business for a proposed sale. Lands being proposed for sale were generally not segregated from appropriation under the public land laws until 60 to 90 days prior to the proposed sale date, in order to preclude incompatible actions during the 180 day time period after the sale date that a purchaser was allowed in which to submit the final payment.
The revised regulations establish a time period for segregation that should be sufficient for case processing for most sales. Because a NORA must be published to implement the segregation, it is appropriate to publish a NORA at the beginning of case processing for the segregation and to invite scoping comments, but a NORA should also be published in conjunction with the decision on the sale, once the environmental analysis and other necessary actions are completed. This procedure will also provide for additional public involvement in the sale process.
Budget Impact: There will be an increase in costs of processing sales related to the costs of publishing segregation NORAs in the Federal Register and local newspapers. Additional costs will also be incurred if extensions of segregations are needed. Actual costs will be determined by the number of proposed sales, the length of the individual notices, and the publication fees for applicable notices in local newspapers and the Federal Register. When a sale meets the requirements of the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act of 2000 (43 U.S.C. 2301), such costs may be covered by sale receipts from prior sales.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: This IM supplements guidance in BLM Manuals 2710 and 2711.
Coordination: This IM was coordinated with the Division of Lands, Realty and Cadastral Survey (WO-350).
Contact: Jeff Holdren, Acting Division Chief, Division of Lands, Realty and Cadastral Survey (WO-350) at (202) 452-7779 or David Beaver, FLTFA Program Lead, Division of Lands, Realty and Cadastral Survey (WO-350) at (202) 452-7788.