Obtaining a Right-of-Way on Public Lands

As a general rule, you don't need a ROW for “casual use” activities, e.g., driving over existing roads, sampling, surveying, collecting data, or any other activity that does not cause appreciable disturbance or damage to the public land.

You do need a ROW whenever you wish to build a project on public land or conduct any activity that would involve appreciable disturbance or damage. 

The BLM wants to make the application process as easy as possible.

Discussing your plans with staff at a local BLM office will help determine whether your use is casual. If you do need to obtain a ROW, working with the State or Field office that has management responsibility for the lands involved will facilitate processing your application. 

Applying for a ROW

1.  Contact the BLM office with responsibility for the land where the ROW is needed. If the project involves public lands in more than one state, begin where the majority of the lands are located or with the BLM State Office for your place of business. 

2.  Download an SF-299 application form. You will need this during the next steps in the process. 

3.  Arrange a pre-application meeting with BLM staff. This is an opportunity for you to fully discuss and describe your proposal and for the BLM to fully explain the processing requirements, including fees. Bring as much information from the Pre-application Checklist as you are able. 

4.  Submit a completed SF-299 by mail or in-person.  

The BLM processes all ROW applications as efficiently as possible.

Once you have filed a complete SF-299 -- including map(s), a plan of development and other project details -- the BLM will evaluate your application to ensure that it conforms with the relevant resource management plan (RMP) for the area and that there are no conflicts with other authorizations or valid existing rights. 

After initial evaluation, the BLM will notify you of whether your application can be processed within 60 days. Once we have completed the necessary reviews, inventories and reports, you will be notified in writing if the ROW will be granted or denied. 

Steps in the Process

  1. Pre-application meeting
  2. Completing an application
  3. Fees
  4. Plan of Development
  5. How an application is processed
  6. Grant holder responsibilities

Contact Information

BLM State Offices

If you are not familiar with local BLM jurisdictions, the best place to start is the BLM State Office where your project would be located. Each State Office oversees a number of field offices. Depending on the specifics of your project and current staffing capacity, you may be referred a BLM Field Office for processing your application.