The Bureau of Land Management Fulfills Historic Obligation made by Congress to State of Montana

(BILLINGS, Mont.) – To satisfy a debt owed to Montana for well over a century, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is taking the final steps needed to convey 5,816.63 acres of land to the State of Montana.

Under the Enabling Act of 1889, which admitted Montana into the Union, the state was entitled to receive sections 16 and 36 in each surveyed township.  Some of those lands were already settled by homesteaders or set aside for other uses, such as Indian reservations and forest reserves.  To fulfill the entitlement, Congress allowed the state to submit applications for other lands, with the requirement that they be managed for the benefit of the common schools as part of Montana’s state school trust lands.

“After 130 years, the BLM has fulfilled the State of Montana’s final land selections so that revenue from these lands can benefit Montana’s state school trust, and thus the children of Montana,” said BLM Montana/Dakotas State Director John Mehlhoff. “I commend the cooperation of our public land partners and permittees in bringing closure to this historic project.”

“After over 130 years, the completion of this historic effort is a win for Montana schools and our students,” said Governor Greg Gianforte. “I thank Secretary Bernhardt and the dedicated federal and state employees that worked so diligently to carry out this critical obligation.”

The Classification Notice has been sent to the Federal Register for publication, with the final transfer of the lands to the state to occur this spring. Documents and background on the final transfer will be available to be viewed at the BLM’s ePlanning website at and search for National Environmental Policy Act number DOI-BLM-MT-C020-2018-0018-EA.


The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’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. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $111 billion in economic output across the country in fiscal year 2019—more than any other agency in the Department of the Interior. These activities supported more than 498,000 jobs.

Release Date


Bureau of Land Management


Al Nash