Know before you dig
(MILES CITY, Mont.) – 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. Surprisingly, these materials may or may not belong to the surface owner.
Millions of acres of private land in the Montana/Dakotas region involve a split estate; where the surface ownership is private, but the mineral rights are retained by the federal government or other entities. Surface owners need to be aware that previous 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 Carissa Shilling at 406-233-2800.
This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 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.