BLM finalizes fee schedule for public land rights-of-way

The US Bureau of Land Management announced final regulations on Oct. 30 for rental fees for rights-of-way across public land. The changes aim to more accurately reflect changes in land values over the past 2 decades, it said.

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 31 -- The US Bureau of Land Management announced final regulations on Oct. 30 for rental fees for rights-of-way across public land. The changes aim to more accurately reflect changes in land values over the past 2 decades, it said.

The US Department of the Interior agency said that the revised regulations would appear in the Oct. 31 Federal Register. It undertook the rulemaking effort in response to Section 387 of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which directed DOI to revise the existing rental fee schedule for linear rights-of-way to reflect current land values. BLM last updated the fees in 1987, it said.

The new regulations would update the fee schedule based on current land values from information published by the National Agricultural Statistics Service and would adjust those values, whether up or down, every 5 years, according to BLM Director James L. Caswell.

"The American taxpayer deserves fair compensation for the use of public lands for commercial purposes. This new rule would ensure that the federal government receives an adequate return for right-of-way rentals, both now and into the future," he said.

BLM said the revised rent schedule covers most linear rights-of-way granted under the 1920 Mineral Leasing Act and the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act. Both laws require the holder of a right-of-way to pay fair market value to occupy, use, or cross public land for such facilities as power lines, fiber-optic lines, pipelines, roads, and ditches.

The revised rental fee schedule, which BLM plans to phase in by reducing the 2009 per-acre rent by 25%, would also be adopted by the US Forest Service for use in national forests, BLM said. The new regulations also contain provisions not directly related to the rent schedule that cover flexible rental payment periods, reimbursements of processing and monitoring fees for leases and permits, and other topics, the agency said.

It said there currently are more than 96,000 right-of-way grants on BLM acreage, 48,600 of which are subject to rent which generated more than $20 million of revenue in fiscal 2007.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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