Realty & Natural Resources
Alaska Region   

Land Acquisition

Purchase/ Exchange/ Donation

The Fish and Wildlife Service acquires lands and waters consistent with the legislation or other Congressional guidelines and Executive Orders for the conservation of fish and wildlife and related habitat and to provide wildlife-oriented public use for educational and recreational purposes. We acquire lands only from willing sellers and generally within the boundaries of National Wildlife Refuges.

A number of methods are available to acquire property rights. These include direct purchase, exchange, and donation.


This is the most direct means of obtaining title to or an interest in land. The Fish and Wildlife Service negotiates the purchase of, some, or all property to rights from a willing seller.

Fee Title: This is the acquisition of most or all of the rights to a tract of land. There is a total transfer of property rights within the formal conveyance of title. While a fee title acquisition generally involves most rights to a property, certain rights may be reserved. The following are some examples: (a) Water Rights; (b) Mineral Rights; (c) Use reservations (note:) Acquisition in fee title by the Fish and Wildlife Service will result in an annual revenue sharing payment being made to the local taxing authority.

Easement - This is the acquisition of limited right(s) or less than fee title. The right to control access, hunting, and development of the property are some typical examples of rights acquired in easements. Easements are property rights and are usually perpetual. If a landowner sells his/her property, the easements continue as part of the land title. Easements are especially useful when multiple uses for property can be developed. Properties subject to easements generally remain on the tax roll, although the assessment may be reduced by the reduction of market value. (Note:) Acquisition of an easement interest by the Fish and Wildlife Service will not result in an annual revenue sharing payment being made to the local taxing authority.


Lands under Fish and Wildlife Service or other Federal agency control can be exchanged for land having greater potential for achieving habitat protection objectives. Inherent in the exchange concept is the requirement to get dollar value for dollar value. Exchanges are attractive in that they usually do not increase Federal land holdings or require funds for purchase, but they may be very labor intensive and may take years to complete. A third party may at times be utilized to facilitate an exchange.


A citizen or group of citizens may wish to make a gift of land or interests in land to the Fish and Wildlife Service for wildlife purposes. Aside from the cost factor, these acquisitions are no different than any other means of land acquisition. Gifts and donations have the same planning requirements as do purchases. Ordinarily, there are certain tax benefits available to the donor as a result of a charitable contribution of land to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last updated: March 25, 2010

Realty & Natural Resources
Alaska National Wildlife Refuge Home
Alaska Region Home