UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Washington, DC 20240
 
May 24, 2011
 
In Reply Refer To:
9672 (350) P
 
EMS TRANSMISSION 06/03/2011
Instruction Memorandum No. 2011-122
Expires:  09/30/2012
 
To:                        All Washington Office and Field Officials
                             Attn: Field Office Managers and State Office Chief Cadastral Surveyors
 
From:                    Assistant Director, Minerals and Realty Management
 
Subject:                Plan to Ensure Adequate Cadastral Survey Review of Boundary Evidence Prior to the Approval of Significant Land and Resource Transactions and Commercial Projects
 
Program Area: All Land and Resource Programs within the Bureau of Land Management.
 
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides interim guidance to ensure adequate Cadastral Survey review of Boundary Evidence prior to the approval of significant land and resource transactions and commercial projects.
 
Policy/Action: The following interim policies and procedures apply to significant land and resource transactions and to significant commercial projects (a) by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), (b) by others through land and resources administrated by the BLM, and (c) on non-BLM lands that impact BLM-administered lands.  The policies and procedures in this IM are consistent with the Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Final Audit Report, “Department of the Interior’s Management of Land Boundaries” (Audit No. C-IN-MOA-0001-2009), July 16, 2009 (OIG Report) including the BLM response of April 2, 2010, and the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management (ASLM) supplemental response of August 6, 2010.
 
This interim policy clarifies existing BLM duties and responsibilities to administer, coordinate, and protect public lands.  Additionally, this policy outlines steps to carry out these duties and responsibilities including the use of “Standards for Boundary Evidence” principles and a risk-based approach to management of land boundaries procedures associated with significant land and resource transactions and commercial projects.
 
Prior to the approval of significant land and resource transactions and commercial projects, the responsible field office will provide the necessary documents to the respective State Office Chief Cadastral Surveyor as defined in this IM and attachments. Within 15 work days of receipt of the required information, the State Office Chief Cadastral Surveyor will provide a response with recommended plan of action. If a “Standards for Boundary Evidence” certificate will suffice in managing the boundary risk at acceptable levels, without additional field work activity(s), this certificate will be provided within an additional 10 work days.
 
Attachment 1 provides instructions for implementation of this IM for processing significant land and resource transactions and commercial projects.
 
Attachment 2 is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ).
 
Attachment 3 is the worksheets requesting Cadastral Survey’s review of the boundary evidence and the certificates documenting the review:
 
Worksheets                                                                                                    Certificates
Land Description Review (LDR) Worksheet                                                     LDR Certificate
Chain of Surveys (COS) Worksheet                                                                COS Certificate
Certificate of Inspection and Possession (CIP) Worksheet                             CIP
Boundary Assurance Certificate (BAC) Worksheet                                          BAC
 
Timeframe: This IM and associated activities becomes effective on the date of issuance.
 
Budget Impact: It is anticipated that there will be a small increase in costs at the planning stage of land and resource transactions and commercial projects. The BLM also expects savings to its budget and increase to Federal revenues, as trespass, encroachments, related litigation, and loss of public land and resources will be identified and prevented.[1]
 
Background: The OIG found that land and resource “ . . . transactions on lands with unreliable boundary surveys and high value resources were routinely processed and approved without the benefit of boundary evidence review by Cadastral Survey personnel,” and that “using proper risk management procedures, less expensive cadastral services, and other procedures can make this work very cost effective.”
 
The OIG further reported “that the BLM’s Cadastral Survey program was missing the opportunity to identify and perform surveys on high risk lands where significant potential revenues could be collected by the Department or Indian Tribes. . . . This revenue could result from the collection of fees or royalties from identifying (a) unauthorized uses including rights-of-way violations and (b) the improper removal of oil, gas, timber, or other resources from federal or Indian lands. The Cadastral Survey program, however, has not developed an adequate system to identify high risk lands or attributes in need of survey.”
 
The OIG reported that a BLM-Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) practice promised to be less costly and time-consuming cadastral services as documented in the Departmental Manual chapter “Standards for Indian Trust Lands Boundary Evidence” (303 DM 7).[2]  The Boundary Evidence reviews can be completed at substantially less cost than an Official Survey, thus providing additional resources for land, resource, and project management.
 
The OIG Report made nine recommendations related to management of land boundaries. The BLM response to Recommendation 4 stated that some examples of transactions with high valued attributes are (1) sites proposed for renewable energy leases involving significant investment and capital improvements, (2) the disposal of high valued resources such as timber and minerals, and (3) the management of high resource value treasured landscapes regardless of market value. The BLM will apply the best practices described in 303 DM 7 to the BLM’s significant land and resource transactions. The BLM response to Recommendation 5 stated that the BLM will develop an IM to institute this new policy on Cadastral Survey involvement in commercial projects requiring that Cadastral Survey evaluate the boundary risk attributes of all significant commercial projects and develop plans to mitigate the risks associated with any high risk boundary attributes. The BLM will apply the best practices described in 303 DM 7 to commercial projects.[3]
 
While the BLM has the necessary authority to survey Federal interest lands, including special use and future interest boundaries, Official Surveys[4] can be expensive relative to the value of the land and resource transaction and to the risks associated with uncertain legal boundary location, and are therefore an inefficient solution. For this reason, a secondary source of Boundary Evidence, i.e., less costly with relatively quick turnaround, has been developed to quantify the risk in a timely manner for the field manager. The final decision to proceed with transactions and commercial projects remains with the Field Manager/Authorized Official.
 
When a Standards for Boundary Evidence Certificate is requested via a Worksheet, a permanent file is created to formalize and standardize the subsequent decision-making process. Additional research and analysis may be performed prior to including land or resources in a transaction or commercial project area of interest, depending on the risk associated with the value of the asset(s) and on the condition of the boundary and markers. The analysis will take into consideration the appropriateness of continuing with the transaction or commercial project versus improving an antiquated land boundary, and the potential level of interference with regard to existing programs and operations and project objectives.
 
Mostly, implementation of a significant land and resource transaction or commercial project is discretionary. Land use plans and associated National Environmental Policy Act documents should be reviewed for consistency, and all available information on the condition of the boundary and markers should be considered when providing recommendations on the Standards for Boundary Evidence Certificate.
 
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: This IM transmits interim policy that will be incorporated into BLM Manuals, Handbooks, Supplements, or IMs impacted by the issuance of the directive.
 
Coordination: This IM was coordinated with ASLM, BLM field offices, Division of Lands, Realty and Cadastral Survey (WO-350), and the Solicitor’s Office.
 
Contact: For further information, please contact me at 202-208-4201, or your staff may contact Don Buhler, WO-350, at 202-912-7353, or email at Don_Buhler@blm.gov. For State specific questions, contact your State Office Chief Cadastral Surveyor.
 
 
Signed by:                                                                    Authenticated by:
Michael Nedd                                                                Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                         Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Minerals and Realty Management
 
 
3 Attachments

 

 


[1]The OIG Report’s conclusion is that, with proper survey and management of high risk lands with antiquated surveys, there is the potential to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from lands with valuable surface and subsurface resources.
[2]The Standards for Boundary Evidence for Indian trust, restricted, and fee lands were developed in concert with the Department’s Fiduciary Trust Model (FTM) and has been successfully implemented. The accompanying BLM Manual and Handbook, 9672 and H-9672-1 have been finalized.
[3]OIG Recommendation 4: Develop and implement a plan to ensure Cadastral Survey reviews the adequacy of boundary evidence prior to the approval of significant land and resource transactions. BLM Response: The BLM concurred with this recommendation and will develop an Instruction Memorandum (IM) requiring Cadastral Survey program certification of all legal descriptions, the adequacy of boundary infrastructure, and the records of survey for all high valued land and resource transactions.
OIG Recommendation5: The original OIG Recommendation 5 was: Develop and implement a plan to ensure Cadastral Survey has oversight of all significant commercial projects. The BLM did not concur with the recommendation as written. The BLM agreed that the Cadastral Survey Program should play a more central role in significant commercial projects, the BLM did not believe that Cadastral Survey should assume an oversight role, that the oversight should remain with the BLM project manager to ensure that the necessary elements of these transactions are coordinated and completed, while at the same time requiring that the Cadastral Survey component is a mandatory part of the process. OIG concurred with BLM’s response and revised the recommendation to require that project managers coordinate with Cadastral Survey on all significant commercial projects. The final OIG Recommendation 5 is: Develop and implement a plan to ensure that project manager’s coordinate with Cadastral Survey on all significant commercial projects to evaluate boundary risks.
[4]In this IM, the terms “official surveys,” “Federal authority surveys,” and “cadastral surveys” have the same meaning and are used interchangeably.