Realty & Natural Resources
Alaska Region   

Land Acquisition

Steps for Land Purchase or Donation

The ability of the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to acquire lands is expressly subject to the availability of funds legislatively appropriated or administratively allocated for such purposes.  These steps indicate the acquisition process for lands not held in restricted title.  If lands are held in restricted title (such as Native allotments), additional steps must be taken and coordinated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

1. A landowner can initiate contact or contact may be initiated by a representative of the Service.  If the landowner initiates contact, his/her property will be evaluated by the Service for biological importance, location (the property must be within the boundary of a national wildlife refuge), and availability of funds for purchase.

2. If the Service wishes to pursue acquisition of the landowner’s property, the landowner will be asked to complete a LAND EXCHANGE CERTIFICATION. The Land Exchange Certification informs the landowner that he/she has the opportunity to exchange his or her lands for unreserved public lands in accordance with 16 U.S.C. 3192a. The Secretary of the Interior is required to make this offer prior to using certain types of Federal funds to purchase lands (or any interest therein) in the State of


.  The landowner will be asked to indicate on this form whether or not he/she is interested in pursuing a land exchange.

The landowner will also be asked to complete a PERMISSION TO APPRAISE AND INSPECT PROPERTY.  This form gives an appraiser and a representative of the Fish and Wildlife Service permission to physically inspect the property and indicates the landowner’s interest in selling his/her property.

3. The Service obtains title work.

4. The Service contracts for an appraisal of the property (summer months are the most appropriate times to complete this step).

5. The completed appraisal is reviewed by the Appraisal Services Directorate (ASD).

6. If the appraisal is approved by ASD, an offer to purchase the property for market value is presented to the landowner, preferably in person. If the landowner agrees with the offer, he/she signs the Purchase Agreement.

7. The Service conducts an Environmental Site Assessment (inspection of the property for possible contamination issues) and performs a Water Rights Survey.

8. The Service requests a review of the title work from the Office of the Solicitor.

9. Upon response from the Office of the Solicitor that the title has been reviewed and is acceptable, the Service will formally accept the Purchase Agreement and inform the landowner in writing that we will proceed with acquisition of the property.

10. The landowner will be given a Warranty Deed for signature.

11. The Service will complete the purchase in coordination with a contract title company by recording the Warranty Deed and providing the funds to the landowner. 

NOTE:  The steps involved in a land donation are similar; however, an appraisal is not obtained by the Service.


Last updated: April 7, 2010

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