WASHINGTON, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) has introduced two bills to protect the rights of private land owners: the Land Adjacency Notification and Disclosure (LAND) Act (H.R. 1965), and the Resurveys Entitle Adjacent Landowners (REAL) Protection Act (H.R. 1966).
The LAND Act brings more transparency and oversight to U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land exchanges by requiring the federal government to provide written notification to each adjacent landowner of any parcel of land that is set to be exchanged.
“With the federal government controlling such a substantial amount of land in the West, it is vital that the process by which it acquires and conveys property is transparent and includes a consistent public notification process,” Tipton said. “By increasing transparency and notification in this process, we can better ensure that the public interest is being served in federal land exchanges and that owners of adjacent private land receive timely and comprehensive notifications of the pending changes.”
The REAL Protection Act requires that, in the event of a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land resurvey, the BLM must notify all property owners with land that neighbors the federal land identified for a resurvey at least 30 days before the process beings. The bill also protects landowners if the BLM determines that the property that was previously believed to be private property should be reclassified as federal land.
“We’ve heard from farmers, ranchers and others across the West who have faced fines and criminal charges, or have been forced to relinquish property they believed to be their own following BLM resurveys and reclassifications of federal land,” said Tipton. “Families who in some cases have lived and worked on the land for multiple generations shouldn’t be punished for surveying errors that were originally made by the federal government, and the REAL Protection Act is a common sense policy that protects these landowners.”
The bill would give the private landowner the right of first refusal to purchase the land for fair market value or be reimbursed for the fair market value of any significant improvements they made to the land. Additionally, the private landowner may not be charged with trespassing unless they used the property after they had knowledge that the land was owned by the federal government.