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The purchase of land and interests in land (including access easements, conservation easements, mineral rights, and water rights), can be accomplished within a few months if funding is available, if acquisition is supported in a land use plan, and if there are no title defects, hazardous materials, or other mitigating local issues.

Acquiring land through purchase:

  • Enhances recreation opportunities,
  • Preserves open space,
  • Helps consolidate management areas to strengthen resource protection, and
  • Provides an alternative when a land exchange is not feasible or when other alternatives are not available.

 Purchase Using Land and Water Conservation Fund Appropriations

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is authorized to receive funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) through annual Congressional appropriations.  These funds are generally targeted to specific projects, including the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS), Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) or Special Recreation Management Areas (SRMA), to purchase land and interests in land for natural resource benefits, including open space, wildlife habitat and recreation.  The LWCF program allows the BLM to purchase land needed to manage key natural resources, to acquire legal ownership of land to enhance the management of existing public land and resources, and to provide public access.  First authorized in 1970, funding is limited to specific project areas. 

A spreadsheet with a list of major projects for fiscal years 2010 - 2015 can be downloaded by clicking here. 

Listed below are major project areas:

  • Arizona
    • Arizona Wilderness
    • Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
    • San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area
    • Sears Point ACEC/Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
  • California
    • California Wilderness
    • Carrizo Plain National Monument
    • King Range National Conservation Area
    • Lacks Creek ACEC
    • Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument
    • Trinity National Wild and Scenic River
    • Upper Sacramento River ACEC
  • Colorado
    • Arkansas River SRMA
    • Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
    • Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area
    • Gunnison Basin ACEC
    • Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area
  • Idaho
    • Boise Front ACEC
    • Henrys Lake ACEC
    • Lower Salmon River ACEC
    • Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
    • Upper Snake/South Fork Snake River ACEC/SRMA
  • Montana
    • Blackfoot River SRMA
    • Chain-of-Lakes SRMA/Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
    • Garnet Ghost Town SRMA
    • Meeteetse Spires ACEC
    • Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River
  • Nevada
    • Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
  • New Mexico
    • El Malpais National Conservation Area
    • Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
    • La Cienega ACEC/El Camino Rael de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail
    • Lesser Prairie Chicken Habitat Preservation ACEC
    • Rio Grande National Wild and Scenic River
  • Oregon
    • Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
    • Owyhee National Wild and Scenic River
    • Rogue National Wild and Scenic River
    • Sandy River ACEC/Oregon National Historic Trail
    • West Eugene Wetlands
    • Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
  • Utah
    • Colorado River SRMA
    • Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
    • Washington County Habitat Conservation Plan
  • Washington
    • Fishtrap Recreation Area
    • Point Colville ACEC
    • Scattered Tracts Management Area
    • Upper Crab Creek Management Area
  • Wyoming
    • Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
    • Craig Thomas Little Mountains Special Management Area
    • North Platte River SRMA

Each BLM State Office has a land tenure contact familiar with the program and priorities in that State.  Additional information is accessible through our links page.

Purchase Using Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Funds

The Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) became law on July 25, 2000. It provides for the use of revenues from the sale or exchange of public lands identified for disposal under land use plans in effect as of the date of enactment.  The FLTFA does not apply to lands identified for disposal through land use plans or land use plan amendments approved after July 25, 2000.  The revenue derived from FLTFA sales is split between the respective State (4%) for educational purposes or for the construction of public roads, and a special account (96%) available to the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture for:
  • Acquiring inholdings within certain federally designated areas managed by the BLM, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service, or lands adjacent to those areas and containing exceptional resources (of the funds used for acquisition, 80% must be expended in the same State in which the funds were generated and 20% may be expended for acquisition in any of the 11 other Western States);
  • Administrative and other expenses necessary to carry out the sale program under the FLTFA (up to 20% of revenues from disposals may be used for this purpose).
The FLTFA expired on July 24, 2010. On July 29, 2010, Congress passed an emergency supplemental appropriations bill to extend FLTFA for one year. Because of the break in FLTFA’s authority, the BLM lost all unspent land acquisition funding generated during the first ten years. The land acquisition account is slowly being rebuilt through deposits of revenue from land sale and exchange of public lands since July 27, 2010. Projects benefitting from FLTFA land acquisition funding include:
Bureau of Land Management
  • Arizona
    • Hells Canyon Wilderness
  • California
    • Coachella Valley Fringe-Toed Lizard ACEC
  • Colorado
    • Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
  • Idaho
    • Henrys Lake ACEC
    • Snake River ACEC
  • Montana
    • Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
  • Nevada
    • Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
  • New Mexico
    • Elk Springs ACEC
    • La Cienega ACEC
  • Oregon
    • Rogue National Wild and Scenic River
  • Wyoming
    • California, Mormon Pioneer, Oregon and Pony Express National Historic Trails
National Park Service
  • Idaho
    • City of Rocks National Preserve
    • Nez Perce National Historical Park
  • New Mexico
    • Aztec Ruins National Monument
  • Utah
    • Zion National Park
  • Wyoming
    • Grand Teton National Park
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Montana
    • Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
  • Oregon
    • Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge
    • Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge
U.S. Forest Service
  • Arizona
    • Coconino National Forest
    • Tonto National Forest
  • California
    • Shasta-Trinity National Forest
    • Six Rivers National Forest
  • Colorado
    • White River National Forest
  • Nevada
    • Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
  • Wyoming
    • Bridger-Teton National Forest
Each BLM State Office has a FLTFA contact person familiar with the program and priorities in that State.  Additional information is accessible through our links page.

Purchase Using Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act Funds

The Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA) became law in October 1998.  It allows the BLM to sell public land within a specific boundary around Las Vegas, Nevada.  The revenue derived from land sales is split between the State of Nevada General Education Fund (5%), the Southern Nevada Water Authority (10%), and a special account available to the Secretary of the Interior for:

  • Parks, Trails and Natural Areas,
  • Capital Improvements,
  • Conservation Initiatives,
  • Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plans,
  • Environmentally Sensitive Land Acquisition, and
  • Lake Tahoe Restoration Projects.
Other provisions in the SNPLMA direct certain land sale and acquisition procedures, direct the BLM to convey title to land in the McCarran International Airport noise zone to Clark County, and provide for the sale of land for affordable housing.

Additional information is accessible through our links page.

Easements for Conservation, Access Roads, Trails, and Improvements

Easements allow the government to control certain rights on private property that usually involve access or development.  The lands remain in private ownership with limited rights owned by the government.  Each easement is tailored to suit the particular property and the interests of its owners.
Acquiring easements provides access to "landlocked" public lands, allowing the BLM to construct road improvements for better management and increased public access, and allowing the landowner to maintain existing land uses while protecting the land from incompatible uses (through conservation easements).

Conservation easements protect land from subdivision and development, and rarely provide for public access.  Though conservation easements are initially less costly for the Government than fee purchase, they do require perpetual "stewardship."

Purchase of Land and Easement Processing Steps

The BLM only acquires property from “willing seller” landowners. Once a landowner has decided to sell property to the BLM the first step in purchasing lands or easements is to assure that title is acceptable to the United States and that funds are available for the transaction.  The property is then inspected to assure there are no hazardous materials or other unacceptable items on the land.  The land is then appraised to determine the amount of the Bureau's offer to the landowner.  If an easement is for a road or other improvement, the lands will be surveyed and analyzed to determine the most appropriate route before an offer is prepared.  Once the offer to purchase is accepted by the landowner, the final step involves the preparation of a deed or easement document.  Once the appropriate documents are signed, funds are transferred and ownership conveyed.