USFWS
Realty & Natural Resources
Alaska Region   

Refuge Rights-of-Way & Easements

National Wildlife Refuge System Act Rights-of-Way

A National Wildlife Refuge System right-of-way is a legal right to use National Wildlife Refuge System lands for specifically permitted purposes. These uses are generally long term and include the construction, maintenance and operation of the use. All uses are subject to specific terms and conditions and must be compatible with the purposes of the area or unit and the Mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Links to Statutes, Regulations and Manuals

National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997
United States Code
Title 16; Chapter 5A; Subchapter III; Sec. 668dd

Rights-of-Way General Regulations
Code of Federal Regulations
50 C.F.R. Sec. 29; Land Use Management; Subpart B

Rights-of-Way and Road Closing
Fish and Wildlife Service Manual, 340 FW 3          

Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act
United States Code
Title 16; Subchapter IV; Transportation and Utility Systems in and Across, and Access into, Conservation System Units

Transportation and Utility Systems in and Across, and Access Into, Conservation System Units in Alaska
Code of Federal Regulations
Title 43; Part 36

How to Apply for a National Wildlife Refuge System Right-of-Way Permit

No specific form is required for a right-of-way permit under the National Wildlife Refuge System Act but for convenience you may use the Standard Form 299 developed for right-of-way permit applications under the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).
50 C.F.R. § 29.21-2

Please note that right-of-way applications for pipelines for the transportation of oil and natural gas should follow procedures set out at 50 C.F.R. § 29.21-9.

Application Requirements

  • Purpose of the requested right-of-way
  • Length, width, and estimated acreage
  • Maps or diagrams sufficient to determine the location of the right-of-way on the ground
  • File the application in triplicate with the Regional Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service c/o Division of Realty, 1011 E. Tudor Road, MS 211, Anchorage, Alaska 99503
  • Application fee
  • Processing costs

Application Fees
Linear Facilities (Examples: pipelines, roads, powerlines)
Length less than 5 miles - $50 per mile or fraction of a mile
Length 5 to 20 miles - $500
Length of 20 miles and over - $500 for each 20 miles or fraction of a mile
Nonlinear Facilities (Examples: research sites, towers, buildings)
$250 for each 40 acres or fraction of an acre
Combination of Linear and Nonlinear Facilities
Total of fees calculated for linear and nonlinear facilities combined

Exceptions
No application fee is required of Federal government agencies
No application fee is required of State or local government agencies except when the permit is requested under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920

Application Review
Processing Costs
After reviewing the application, the Regional Director, acting through the Division of Realty, will estimate the costs to process the application. If the cost estimate exceeds the application fees, the applicant shall make advance payment of the estimated costs prior to the Division of Realty processing the application. The Division of Realty will later provide the applicant an accounting of the actual costs for processing the application and will reimburse the applicant for overpayments.

Additional Review Requirements
(All completed by the Fish and Wildlife Service at the applicant’s expense, unless otherwise noted.)
Refuge Compatibility Determination
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (May be contracted at applicant’s expense)
Endangered Species Act, Section 7 Consultation
Coastal Zone Management Act, Section 307 – Completed by the State of Alaska
Coastal Barrier Resources Act, Section 6
Subsistence Evaluation and Finding, Section 810, ANILCA
National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 - Completed by the Fish and Wildlife Service and State of Alaska
Executive Order 11988 – Floodplain Management
Executive Order 11990 – Protection of Wetlands
Executive Order 12372 – Inter-governmental Review of Federal Programs- Completed by the State of Alaska and applicable Federal Agencies

Permit Terms and Conditions
By accepting the right-of-way permit, the applicant agrees to the terms and conditions set out in 50 C.F.R. § 29.21-4. These terms and conditions may only be waived in part by the Regional Director and additional special stipulations may be added at the Regional Director’s discretion.

Post-Permit Requirements
In accepting the right-of-way permit, the permittee agrees to reimburse the United States through the Division of Realty the full costs for monitoring the construction, operation, maintenance and termination of facilities within or adjacent to the permit area. When monitoring costs exceed the amounts specified in the table below, a Collection Agreement is often used to ensure full reimbursement to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Monitoring Costs
Within 60 days of issuance of the right-of-way permit, the permittee must pay the following to the United States through the Division of Realty:

Linear Facilities
Length less than 5 miles - $20 per mile or fraction of a mile
Length 5 to 20 miles - $200
Length of 20 miles and over - $200 for each 20 miles or fraction of a mile
Nonlinear Facilities
$100 for each 40 acres or fraction of an acre
Combination of Linear and Nonlinear Facilities
Total of costs calculated for linear and nonlinear facilities combined

Rent Payments
The Secretary of the Interior may not grant a right-of-way across, under or through any area of the National Wildlife Refuge System unless the permitee pays to the Secretary of the Interior either:

  1. Lump sum payment of the fair market value of the right-of-way as of the date of the permit; or
  2. Annual payment of the fair market value in advance of the right-of-way.

16 U.S.C. § 668dd(d)(2)

Rent Exceptions
A rental exception only applies if a Federal, State or local agency is exempted from payment by any other provision of Federal law. If an exception exists, the agency shall compensate the Fish and Wildlife Service by other means agreeable to the Regional Director including but not limited to the loan of equipment or personnel or by making other land available. The compensation shall relate to and be consistent with the objectives of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Regional Director may waive payment by other means if the requirement is unnecessary or impracticable.

Appraisals - Most appraisals to determine fair market value for the rental amount are contracted out by the applicant. The appraiser must meet specific qualifications and the appraisal must contain specific information according to instructions provided to the applicant by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last updated: July 2016

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