USFWS
Realty & Natural Resources
Alaska Region   

Land Acquisition

Steps for Land Exchange

1. Landowner can initiate contact or contact may be initiated by a representative of the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). Landowner will be asked to complete a LAND EXCHANGE CERTIFICATION which will communicate the landowner’s desire to pursue an exchange of their real property for unreserved public lands.

2. If the landowner initiates contact, his/her property will be evaluated by the Service for biological importance, location (the lands to be conveyed to the Service must be within the approved boundary of a national wildlife refuge), and availability of funds.

3. In most instances, the Service and the landowner negotiate and execute a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved (a Corporate Resolution or other appropriate source of authority should accompany this document if applicable).

4. The Service coordinates with other Federal Agencies if applicable.

5. The Service completes compliance documents, including Environmental Site Assessments, Biological Assessments, and other documentation in accordance with Wetland and Floodplain protection, Cultural Resource Protection/Historic Preservation, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

6. The Service obtains title work on the lands to be conveyed to the Service.

7. The Service contracts for appraisals of all lands involved in the exchange (summer months are the most appropriate times to complete this step).

8. The completed appraisals are reviewed by the Appraisal Services Directorate (ASD).

9. If the appraisals are approved by ASD, the Service meets with the landowner to discuss the appraised values and negotiate an Agreement for the Exchange of Lands.

10. If agreement is reached by both parties and an Agreement for the Exchange of Lands is signed, the Service submits the exchange proposal to the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service (if applicable).  Exchanges that involve lands over a particular dollar amount require Congressional oversight and review.

11. The Service sends the exchange package and title work to the Office of the Solicitor for review.

12. Upon approvals from the Director and the Office of the Solicitor, the Service and the landowner exchange deeds.

13. The Service completes the exchange process in coordination with a contract title company by recording the deeds in the public records.

Last updated: April 7, 2010

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