Sales, R&PP and Exchanges

Land Exchanges.  The BLM sometimes uses land exchanges with other landowners to improve land management, consolidate ownership, and protect environmentally sensitive areas.  By exchanging public land that is of limited interest to the BLM but of value to others, the BLM can acquire other lands with important recreation, conservation, scenic, cultural and other resource uses.  Land exchanges also allow the BLM to reposition or consolidate lands into more manageable units and to meet community expansion needs. The BLM’s Land Exchange Handbook provides specific guidance to ensure that statutory and regulatory requirements are followed and the public interest protected.

Land Sales.  With the passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), Congress mandated that the BLM retain most remaining public lands, significantly reducing the acreage available for disposal.  However, select sales continue to remain an important component of the BLM's land management strategy, when they are in the public interest and consistent with publicly-approved land use plans.  See the FAQs about Federal Land Sales for more information. In addition, the BLM’s Environmental Site Assessments for Disposal of Real Property Handbook describes the process used by the BLM to comply with requirements to consider and disclose whether property it proposes to transfer to third parties has contamination present. 

View two Acts below that authorize specific types of public land sale: the Recreation and Public Purposes Act and the Desert Land Act.  

Recreation and Public Purposes Act

The Recreation and Public Purposes Act authorizes the sale or lease of public lands for recreational or public purposes to state and local governments and to qualified nonprofit organizations.  Examples of typical uses under the act include schools, municipal facilities, hospitals, historic monument sites, campgrounds, parks, and fairgrounds.

Read this information sheet to learn more about the Act. 

Desert Land Act

In 1877 Congress passed the Desert Land Act to encourage economic development of the arid and semiarid public lands of the Western United States.   Through the Act, individuals may apply for a desert land entry to reclaim, irrigate, and cultivate certain public lands.  

For more information see this Q&A on Desert Land Entries