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522 FW 6                                     
Land Acquisition  

FWM#: 060 (new)
Date: December 17, 1992, as amended 12/26/06 and 04/29/2012
Series: State Grant Programs
Part 522: Federal Aid Program Guidance
Originating Office: Office of Federal Aid


6.1 General. This chapter provides guidance on projects for the acquisition and use of lands or waters to carry out eligible purposes under any of the grant programs. For this chapter, land acquisition means the acquisition of real property or interests in real property by fee title, lease, easement, or any other method consistent with State law or regulation.

6.2 Eligible Purposes. Land acquisition projects must have objectives related to one or more of the following purposes.

A. Protecting or maintaining habitat conditions for fish or wildlife species by placing land under public control or ownership.

B. Developing or improving habitat conditions to enhance carrying capacity.

C. Providing public access for the use of fish and wildlife resources.

D. Acquiring sites for the construction of buildings or other structures needed by the State to meet program needs, such as offices, laboratories, or public use facilities.

6.3 Documentation of Proposals. The project statement for land acquisition projects should contain the following information.

A. Need. State the problems or deficiencies that the acquisition of land will correct or improve.

B. Objective. Provide a concise statement of what will be acquired and the purpose which the land will serve. For example:

To acquire in fee title approximately 13,450 acres (3,009 ha) in Pearl River County to be operated as a wildlife management area and public hunting area.

To acquire by lease, easement, or fee title 8,000 acres (3,239 ha) of prime deer range adjacent to deer management areas 46 or 47 to reduce hunting pressure on the existing areas.

Acquire 10 acres (4 ha) for the construction of a target range for hunter education training and public use within 1 hour's driving time from Lotus City.

C. Expected Results and Benefits. Identify, and to the extent feasible quantify, the type and amount of recreation to be provided, effect on wildlife populations, educational benefits to be realized, or other benefits as a result of this project. For example:

The area acquired is expected to provide approximately 2,000 hunter use days in pursuit of big game, small game, and waterfowl annually. Planned management is expected to increase the deer herd to approximately 500 head with an annual harvest of 125.

The area acquired is expected to provide 500 days of deer hunting, 200 days of turkey hunting, 200 days of squirrel hunting, and 400 days of nonconsumptive recreation use annually.

D. Approach. Describe the present ownership, habitat type, and how the area will be managed. Include a schedule of the lands to be acquired, estimated costs, and the legal rights to be acquired, i.e. fee title, easements, or other long-term acquisition.

E. Location. Identify where the land will be acquired with a location map to outline project boundaries and their relationship to access routes.

F. Estimated Cost. Provide the estimated cost for the acquisition. If applicable, separately identify the estimated costs for land, appraisals, relocations, and other major items of cost.

6.4 Documentation to Support the Grant Proposal. General information on documentation to support the Grant Proposal is contained in 522 FW 1.4. Provide, with the Grant Proposal, information needed by the Regional Director to determine whether the intended use of the land will have a significant impact on the environment. Additional information on National Environmental Policy Act requirements is contained in Part 523, Federal Aid Compliance Requirements.

6.5 Documentation to Support the Grant Agreement. The following information, as applicable, should be submitted with the Grant Agreement. (See 522 FW 1.7 for general information on documentation to support the Grant Agreement.)

A. A description of the real property to be acquired.

B. An appraisal report for the property to be acquired.

C. Purchase options or agreements.

6.6 Costs. General requirements related to allowable costs are in 43 CFR 12.62 and 522 FW 1.11. The following are specifically related to acquisition projects.

A. The State is considered to have incurred the costs for land on the date the State becomes legally obligated for the purchase. Examples of when an acquisition cost is incurred are when a contract to purchase is executed or when an option is exercised. Prior approval by the Regional Director is evidenced by an approved Application for Federal Assistance and the obligation of Federal funds.

B. Costs for the acquisition of real property may include the costs for biological or engineering reconnaissance, appraisal, or other preliminary project costs if specifically provided for in the grant award. If the State has incurred these costs prior to approval of the grant award, the State may request the Regional Director to reimburse those costs as preagreement costs consistent with 522 FW 16.

C. The Federal share of project costs will be based on either the actual price paid or the fair market value, whichever is less. (See section 6.9 for guidance on the determination of value.)

D. The costs for land acquired under the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration program may be financed over an extended period of time, subject to the requirements in 50 CFR 80.25.

6.7 Special Conditions. The following conditions are specifically applicable to the acquisition of real property using Federal funds.

A. The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 and the Government-wide regulations implementing this Act as published by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 49 CFR 24.

B. The purpose for which the property will be used is a determinant of whether other conditions will apply. The following are examples of these conditions, which should be taken into consideration prior to the acquisition.

(1) If construction is anticipated in a floodplain or wetland, then Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, and Executive Order 11990, Protection of Wetlands, will apply.

(2) If the site has known or potential cultural or historic importance, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 will apply.

(3) If the site contains, or the proposed use may impact, endangered species, section 7 of the Endangered Species Act will apply.

(4) If the intended use of the property is anticipated to trigger the development of an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the EA or EIS will apply to the acquisition.

C. Real property must continue to serve the purpose for which acquired (See 50 CFR 80.14 and 43 CFR 12.71). If the State believes that the property can no longer serve this purpose, the property may be sold, traded, or the purpose changed, with the prior approval of the Regional Director.

D. Minerals, oil, gas, timber, grazing rights, and other real property are normally considered a part of the land. These interests may be separated from the land by sale, lease, easement, or other method of transfer. However, the separation must be compatible with the purpose(s) for which the land was acquired. Revenue from the sale, lease, or easement may be considered program income. (See 50 CFR 80.14 and 43 CFR 12.71.)

E. Lands or waters may not be acquired for the purpose of mitigating fish or wildlife habitat losses, where the obligation to mitigate is incurred by another Federal or State agency.

6.8 Performance Reports. Within 90 days after the end of the grant agreement period the State must submit a performance report on the project (See 522 FW 1.22). The end of the grant period is the date shown on the Grant Agreement. The performance report must contain the following information.

A. Summary of Land Costs. Furnish a schedule showing seller, acreage, appraised value, price paid, relocation costs, and other costs for each tract. Other costs of acquisition (appraisal, negotiation, title search, land surveys, etc.) may be shown as a lump sum.

B. Title Vesting Evidence. Furnish a certificate by the Attorney General or other authorized State official that the title to the property acquired is vested in the State. A title insurance policy or title certificate may be substituted for the Attorney General's certificate. The certificate or title insurance policy must include a correct legal description and the acreage of the property involved. The description may be given by reference to a deed or plat, provided a copy of the document accompanies the certificate or policy. A final judgement will suffice in condemnation cases. On per-unit purchases, the exact acreage, footage, or mileage shall be indicated.

C. If the acquisition could not be acquired within the period specified, provide a statement of the problem, the actions to be taken to resolve the problem, and when it is anticipated that the acquisition will be completed.

6.9 Real Property Valuation. The following applies to the valuation of real property acquired under Federal Aid programs.

A. The current fair market value of property acquired in fee title may be determined by any one of the following methods.

(1) Price fixed by law (e.g., lands held by a State trust fund, county school district, etc.)

(2) Property acquired at public auction or by sealed bid.

(3) Property acquired by condemnation where the value is established by the court.

(4) Value estimated by a State-licensed or certified appraiser, as provided by the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, using generally accepted techniques recognized by the appraisal profession. The appraisal must be reviewed by a certified Review Appraiser. When competent review services cannot be obtained by the State or special expertise is required, the State may request assistance from the Regional Director.

B. The fair market value of easements and rights-of-way may be established by using any professionally accepted market value procedure.

C. A Memorandum Opinion of Value (Exhibit 1) may be employed in unique situations involving the appraisal of minimal values, to include appraisal of rights-of way, small low-valued lands, or fractional interests. Minimal values, generally considered to be less than $10,000, may largely be a matter of judgement because they are unsupported in the market place. Memorandum opinions should contain all the essential ingredients of a full appraisal report presented in abbreviated form. All memorandum opinions of value are subject to review and approval by the Regional Director.

D. The value of real property contributed by the State or by others is determined in accordance with 43 CFR 12.64.

6.10 Identification of Property Acquired. Real property should be identified with appropriate signs as to the Federal Aid program under which the property was acquired. The appropriate Federal Aid program symbol may be used for this purpose. If the areas are open to the public, provisions must be made to inform the public of the location, boundaries, and any restrictions on use.

For more information about this chapter, contact the Office of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs. For more information about this website, contact Krista Bibb in the Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs.


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