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Eastern Montana/Dakotas District Office
Release Date: 12/14/10
Contacts: Mark Jacobsen 406-233-2831    

BLM Urges Mineral Ownership Verification Before Excavating

The BLM would like to encourage surface owners to properly verify their ownership of mineral rights before excavating sand, gravel, stone or scoria on their property, as these materials may or may not belong to the surface owner.

Nearly 12 million acres of private land in Montana involve a split estate, where the surface ownership is private but the mineral rights are retained by the federal government. Surface owners are advised that previous findings from related court cases may have resulted in changes regarding the mineral ownership after the original land patents were issued.

Misunderstandings regarding mineral rights ownership have led to several trespass cases in which landowners were selling gravel, scoria or landscape rock without first conducting the required reviews and obtaining the necessary permits from the BLM.

Trespassers can be held liable for damages to the United States and subject to restitution or fines.

The BLM urges landowners planning to lease or sell these minerals to contact their local BLM office for assistance in determining mineral ownership.

For additional information contact BLM Geologist Jim Shaffer at 406.233.2800.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Eastern Montana/Dakotas District Office   111 Garryowen Road      Miles City, MT 59301  

Last updated: 06-28-2012