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Rights-of-Way

General Information

General Information contains information for when a right-of-way (ROW) grant is needed, ROW regulations, definition of ROW terms, and appealing ROW decisions.

It is the policy of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to authorize all  ROW applications, at the discretion of the authorized officer, in the most efficient and economical manner possible. Depending on the specifics of your proposed activity, uses on the public land can be either casual use or will require a ROW grant. It's a good idea to contact the BLM and discuss your plans before assuming your use is casual. The BLM can then make a judgment on the requirements in your particular case.

When do I need a grant?

As a general rule, you do need a ROW whenever you wish to build a project on the public land. Some examples of land uses which require a ROW grant include: electric transmission lines, communication sites, roads, highways, trails, telephone/fiber optic lines, canals, flumes, pipelines, reservoirs, etc.

You don't need a ROW for so-called "casual use." Examples of casual use activities include driving vehicles over existing roads, sampling, surveying, marking routes, collecting data to prepare an application for a ROW, and performing certain activities that do not cause any appreciable disturbance or damage to the public land, resources, or improvements.

Where can I find the ROW regulations?

The vast majority of the ROWs granted are authorized by Title V of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, as amended (FLPMA; 43 U.S.C. 1761-1771) and Section 28 of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as amended (MLA; 43 U.S.C. 185).

FLPMA ROWs (43 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 2800): As authorized by FLPMA, the BLM will issue ROW grants for electrical power generation, transmission and distribution systems, systems for the transmission and reception of electronic signals and other means of communications, highways, railroads, pipelines (other than oil and gas pipelines), and other facilities or systems which are in the public interest.  

MLA ROWs (43 CFR 2880): As authorized by MLA, the BLM will issue ROW grants for oil and natural gas gathering, and distribution pipelines and related facilities (not authorized by appropriate leases), and oil and natural gas transmission pipelines and related facilities.

On April 22, 2005, the BLM published a final rule for ROWs issued under FLMPA and MLA revising regulations pertaining to cost recovery (processing and monitoring fees) policies and procedures for issuing ROW grants, and adjusting cost recovery fees to take into account cost increases since the previous regulations became effective in August 1987.

On October 31, 2008, the BLM published a final rule amending its regulations to update the rent schedule for ROWs issued under FLPMA and MLA. Those laws require the holder of a ROW grant to pay annually, in advance, the fair market value for use of the public lands. Section 367 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the Secretary of the Interior to update the per acre rent schedule found in 43 CFR 2806.20 and revise the per acre rental fee zone value schedule by state, county, and type of linear ROW use to reflect current land values in each zone.

Below are links to the ROW regulations (43 CFR 2800/2880), most recent Federal Register Notices amending/revising the ROW regulations, and BLM ROW Manuals. 

What terms are used in the regulations in this part?

For definitions of ROW terms, see the  " Glossary "

How do I appeal a BLM decision issued under the regulations in this part?

Any party to a case who is adversely affected by a decision of the BLM has the right to appeal that decision. If your ROW application is denied, BLM will provide you with a written decision and explain the reasons for denying the ROW as well as information on how and where to file an appeal, should you so desire. Appeal rights also pertain to other decisions, such as the determination of the processing and monitoring categories.