Recent Developments

 

Update to BLM Leasing Nomination Process

BLM is introducing a new centralized system for filing expressions of interest to nominate lands for competitive leasing.  EOI’s may now be filed electronically on a new nationwide website, at https://nflss.blm.gov.  The website is now active, although still under development.  Once an EOI is filed through the website, it should automatically be routed to the appropriate BLM State Office.  BLM anticipates that a standardized nomination process will shorten the time required for review of the nominated lands.  However, current options for filing EOI’s through the individual State Offices, either on paper or by email, also remain available.

As to whether a standardized filing system will make a significant difference in the increasingly protracted review process for EOI’s, time will tell.  Other, far more serious obstacles will need to be eliminated first — above all, at least in the case of BLM’s Eastern States Office, a severe and growing shortage of staff to handle the nominations (as well as many other functions of that office).   The staff shortage is present at every step of the process, and has an impact not only on carrying out, but even on getting to, each step.  Thus the first step, a preliminary review of the nomination by minerals staff to verify that the minerals are federally owned and are available for leasing, which ought to take a few days, may not be initiated for weeks; and the next step, the mapping of the land and verification of the acreage by the cadastral survey branch, which should require no more than a few weeks to complete, may similarly not even be begun for many more weeks.  And the following step at the State Office level, of forwarding the nomination either for environmental review by the  appropriate BLM District Office (with staff shortages of its own) or for consent by the responsible surface management agency, which should occur promptly upon completion of the preceding steps, may once again take weeks to happen.  In fact the State Office, because of its limited resources, has been forced to prioritize certain areas for review both by it and by the District Office; and any EOI’s covering lands outside of those areas may await action indefinitely.  Addressing these issues should be BLM’s focus, if it hopes to meaningfully improve its lease nomination process.

 


Court Opinions

For everyone who has wondered why BLM needs to conduct the same level of environmental analysis to lease federal minerals under private surface as they do to lease a tract where both the surface and the minerals are federal, the answer is . . . maybe they don’t.  In Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 803 F.3d 31 (2015), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit considered a claim that, in reviewing a proposed oil pipeline extending across nearly 600 miles of land, over 95% of which was privately-owned, the agencies with jurisdiction over the federal lands along the pipeline route were required to prepare an environmental analysis for the entire pipeline.  The court rejected that claim.  In an opinion that provides a crash course on the National Environmental Policy Act, the court recognized that the agency approvals relating to the pipeline segments on federal lands represented agency action that was subject to NEPA requirements – “governmental review, with public input, of the full range of such action’s reasonably foreseeable direct or indirect environmental effects.”  However, the court found, it did not follow that possible environmental impacts from construction of the pipeline outside of the federal segments represented “connected actions” or “cumulative actions” that would need to be analyzed in an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.  The “connected actions” doctrine, under which actions are required to be analyzed together, pertains only to those actions that are subject to a NEPA review requirement in the first place.  And the function of the “cumulative actions” doctrine, which requires the effects of an action to be assessed in the context of other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, is to “set the baseline state of affairs” only for the specific action that is under consideration.  (Note: A footnote to the opinion states, “We hold today only that the agencies were not required to perform a pipeline-wide NEPA review; we do not opine on whether an agency lawfully could have conducted such a review, had it so chosen.”  But in the context of offering split-estate minerals for leasing, if BLM is not required to prepare a comprehensive EA, then – given current staffing and budget constraints – why would they want to?)

 


Interior Board of Land Appeals

The following are some notable recent decisions by the Interior Board of Land Appeals relating to oil and gas leasing and public lands:

Surface use plan of operations: Where the operations covered by a sundry notice will involve surface disturbance, the operator must submit and obtain approval of a surface use plan of operations before proceeding with those operations. See 43 CFR 3162.3-2(a). Failure to do so may result in BLM’s issuance to the operator, under 43 CFR 3163.1, of a notice of incident of noncompliance. Valid Energy, Inc., 192 IBLA 7 (2017).

Standing to appeal: For a party to have standing to appeal, it must be adversely affected by the decision being appealed – i.e., it must have a legally cognizable interest that has been injured, or is substantially likely to be injured, by the decision. A state or local government cannot establish a legally cognizable interest in a route on federal public lands by (a) relying on state laws that do not give it authority to manage routes on federal public lands; (b) asserting an adverse effect on the welfare of its citizens; or ( c) projecting a loss of tax revenue when that loss is merely speculative. State of Utah, 191 IBLA 345 (2017).

Trespass: Using, occupying, or developing public lands or their resources without a right-of-way grant from BLM, where such a ROW is required, constitutes a trespass. Pam and Ron Brown, 191 IBLA 302 (2017).

Right to appeal: An inaccurate notification, in a BLM decision, as to a right to appeal (or to seek state director review) cannot affect that right. BLM’s failure to notify a party that an appeal right exists will not deprive the party of its right; while erroneously notifying a party of an appeal right, when none exists, will not create such a right. Moreover, BLM’s failure to notify a party of an appeal right will not “preserve or extend an appellant’s right to appeal that would otherwise have expired as untimely.” (In other words, if a party who is entitled to appeal is not notified by BLM of his appeal right, not only may he do so in the absence of such notification; but if he does not timely do so, his appeal right will be lost.) Entek GRB, LLC, 191 IBLA 291 (2017), at 295-296, citing Liberty Southern Partners, LLC, 183 IBLA 383 (2013), and Devon Energy, 171 IBLA 43 (2007). (Note: In connection with the appellant’s untimely filing of a request for state director review in this case, the Board refused to excuse the untimeliness, not only because the Board found no basis for estoppel, but also because it found that the doctrine of equitable tolling – where a party has been misled into allowing a deadline to pass – did not apply. This was so, even though the regulations governing the filing deadline – which the Board itself was able to determine correctly – were so convoluted and confusing that both BLM and the Solicitor’s Office gave erroneous advice on the due date for appellant’s request.)

Appeals: In an appeal, the Board has de novo review authority – i.e., it may, in its discretion, consider information that is not a part of the record of the decision by BLM. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 191 IBLA 37 (2017), at 45.

Continuing responsibility for lease obligations: A lessee or operating rights owner who has assigned its interest has a continuing responsibility, under 43 CFR 3106.7-2, for performing all obligations until BLM’s approval of the assignment, as well as for afterward performing any obligations that accrued before approval. (Note: The regulation is unclear on whether the pertinent date is the actual approval date when BLM signs the assignment form, or the effective date of the approval which would be the first day of the month after the assignment was filed. From a policy standpoint, however, the effective date makes far more sense.) Moreover, where operating rights have been assigned, the operating rights owner will have primary responsibility for the applicable lease obligations, but ultimate responsibility will remain with the record title owner. Realza Del Spear, LP, 190 IBLA 318 (2017), citing Petroleum, Inc., 161 IBLA 194 (2004), and Pitch Energy, 169 IBLA 267 (2006). [This decision raises two incidental matters that should be noted. First, the Board, in dicta that does not affect the outcome (190 IBLA at 320), fails to recognize the distinction between an operating rights owner – a working interest (or operating interest) owner, with an interest in the minerals produced – and a designated operator – essentially an agent of the operating rights owner, with authority to conduct lease operations. Second, this is an unusual case where the Board is issuing a formal decision, rather than merely an order, to address a petition for a stay of BLM’s decision, while deferring a determination on the merits of the BLM decision to a later time.]

Suspension of operations and/or production; state director review:  A request for a suspension of operations and/or production comes under both 43 CFR Part 3100 and 43 CFR Part 3160. Therefore, a party challenging a BLM decision approving or denying such a request can and must seek state director review prior to filing an appeal with the Board. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 190 IBLA 152 (2017).

Appeals:  Where BLM states that a lessee of suspended leases must either accept new stipulations and have the suspension lifted, or not accept the stipulations and have the leases cancelled, that statement is not subject to appeal. Rather, the lessee’s options are (1) to accept the stipulations outright; (2) to accept the stipulations under protest, which would entitle the lessee to appeal a dismissal of the protest; or (3) to not accept the stipulations, which would entitle the lessee to appeal a cancellation of the leases. (Interestingly, the Board advises that, in the event of dismissal of a protest, or cancellation of the leases, “we will entertain motions to expedite any appeals of those decisions.”) [Note: An appeal from dismissal of a protest, or from cancellation of the leases, could require the Board, and the courts, to consider the extent to which new stipulations may validly be imposed in response to an environmental challenge that was not brought until years after the leases were issued.] International Petroleum, LLC; Jack Energy, LLC, 190 IBLA 130 (2017).

Surveys:  The decision in Pueblo of San Felipe, 190 IBLA 17 (2017), like most decisions concerning surveys, is highly fact-specific. Notable, however, is the Board’s citation of cases such as United States v. Reimann, 504 F.2d 135 (10th Cir. 1974), in which the court declared that “the government is bound by the last official survey accepted prior to its divestment of title.” (Query: Would that still be true where the survey preceding patent issuance involved fraud or gross error, and was hence essentially a nullity?)

Color of title: The Board’s decision in Sheldon Jackson College, 189 IBLA 350 (2017), is a reminder of how narrowly the Interior Department always has read the provisions of the Color of Title Act. That Act – the limited federal acknowledgment of adverse possession – provides for issuance of a patent for up to 160 acres, upon payment of fair market value, when it is shown “that a tract of public land has been held in good faith and in peaceful, adverse, possession by a claimant, his ancestors or grantors, under claim or color of title for more than twenty years, and that valuable improvements have been placed on such land or some part thereof has been reduced to cultivation” (emphasis added). (Alternatively, the Act, in the Secretary’s discretion, allows issuance of a patent when the tract has been held since at least January 1, 1901, with payment of property taxes throughout that time. In either event, unless there has been compliance with the statutory provisions since at least January 1, 1901, all minerals will be reserved in the patent.) This decision presents a litany of illustrations of how the Department has expanded upon the statutory criteria in order to restrict the availability of relief under the Act (which is long overdue for reform in any event) – e.g., that a tax sale breaks the period of peaceful, adverse possession, forcing the 20 years to begin anew (even though the county’s authority to seize and resell the land necessarily is premised on the same chain of title as the applicant’s); that adverse possession exists only for the portion of the land that was actively utilized by the applicants, and must have persisted up until the time of filing of the application; and that the valuable improvements (or cultivation ) must have been by the applicants or their predecessors-in-interest, and must have been in existence at the time that the application was filed. (Other decisions offer a similarly narrow reading of what qualifies as good faith.)

Dismissal of appeal: Although an appeal is subject to summary dismissal for failure to timely serve the Office of the Solicitor, the Board will not dismiss an appeal where there is no showing of prejudice from that failure. Wilfred Plomis Trust, 189 IBLA 284 (2017). Similarly, where there is no showing of prejudice, the Board will not dismiss an appeal for failure to serve an adverse party. The Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation, 190 IBLA 10 (2017).

Discretion to withdraw parcels after lease sale: BLM retains discretion to withdraw parcels from a lease sale up until the time that it executes a lease, even based on information that was received after the lease sale was held. See Roy G. Barton, 188 IBLA 331 (2016). This is so notwithstanding the statutory language, in 30 U.S.C. 226(b)(1)(A), that a lease “shall be issued within 60 days following payment by the successful bidder.” See Western Energy Alliance v. Salazar (D. Wyo. 2011). (But see dicta in Impact Energy Resources, LLC v. Salazar (D. Utah 2010).) Hawkwood Energy Agent Corp.; Venture Energy, LLC, 189 IBLA 164 (2017).

Notice: “[W]hen an official communication is entrusted to USPS [by BLM], USPS is BLM’s agent for purposes of delivering the letter,” and BLM has not given effective notice when USPS fails to make proper delivery. Liberty Petroleum Corporation, 189 IBLA 144 (2016), at 156.

Standing:  Standing to appeal is not established where an alleged adverse effect is not real and immediate, and is not a consequence of a BLM action that simply maintains the status quo. There must be a causal relationship between the action undertaken and the injury alleged. “The possibility [of being] adversely affected in the event of some future contingency, no matter how probable the prospect that the contingency will occur, does not confer standing.” Board of County Commissioners of Pitkin County, Colorado et al., 186 IBLA 288, 298 (2015), quoting from Woods Petroleum Co., 86 IBLA 46 (1985). (Reaffirmed on reconsideration, 187 IBLA 328 (2016). See also Wilderness Workshop, et al., 189 IBLA 221 (2017); Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 190 IBLA 152 (2017).)

 


Regulations

The final rule on hydraulic fracturing that was issued by BLM in March 2015 (80 FR 16128) was set aside by a June 21, 2016, decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming.  That court found that BLM lacked statutory authority to issue the rule, and that hydraulic fracturing could only be regulated by the States.  Executive Order 13783 of March 28, 2017 (82 FR 16093), however, directed a review of this rule, for possible suspension, revision, or rescission; and on July 25 (82 FR 34464), BLM published a notice of proposed rulemaking to rescind the rule and to return to the regulations that were in place immediately prior to the rule’s adoption.  Given the reversal of BLM’s position on the rule, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, on appeal of the district court’s decision, vacated that court’s judgment on September 21, without reaching the merits of the case, and ordered the case to be dismissed.

Implementation of the final rule defining “waters of the United States,” which was issued by the Corps of Engineers and EPA in June 2015 (80 FR 37053), continues to be enjoined by the October 9, 2015, order of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in State of Ohio v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The Corps and EPA, on March 6, 2017 (82 FR 12532), published a notice announcing their intention to review and rescind or revise this rule; and on July 27 (82 FR 34899), those agencies published a proposed rule rescinding the 2015 definition, and returning to the status quo prior to that definition, pending a further review of the proper regulatory definition of “waters of the United States.”  To keep the 2015 definition from going into effect — as a possible result of Supreme Court review of the 6th Circuit’s ruling — before a final rule rescinding that definition can be implemented, the Corps and EPA published a further proposed rule on November 22 (82 FR 55542) that would defer the applicability of the 2015 definition for two years.  Comments on the most recent proposed rule are due by December 13.

The Office of Natural Resources Revenue, in compliance with a statute passed in 2015, issued interim final rules on June 9, 2016 (81 FR 37153), making an adjustment, for inflation since original adoption of the regulations in 1983, to the amounts charged for civil monetary penalties resulting from violations of statutes, regulations, orders, or lease terms relating to royalty payments (30 CFR Part 1241).  An interim final rule making a similar adjustment to the Bureau of Land Management’s charges for civil monetary penalties, for violations relating to lease operations (43 CFR Part 3160), was issued on June 28, 2016 (81 FR 41860).  In both cases, because of the passage of time since adoption of the regulations, the amounts of the penalties were more than doubled.  A comprehensive revision of ONRR’s civil penalty regulations, incorporating the changes from the interim final rule, was published on August 1, 2016 (81 FR 50306), effective August 31; and a final rule for adjusting BLM’s civil penalties was published on January 19, 2017 (82 FR 6305), effective that same date.  On April 24 (82 F.R. 18858), ONRR published an annual adjustment, for inflation, of its civil monetary penalty rates for 2017.

A final rule amending ONRR’s regulations on onshore and offshore federal oil and gas royalty valuation (as well as federal and Indian coal valuation) was published on July 1, 2016 (81 FR 43337), effective January 1, 2017. On February 27, however (82 FR 11823), ONRR published a notice postponing the effectiveness of this rule until the resolution of pending judicial challenges; and on April 4, ONRR published (1) a proposed rule to repeal the 2016 rule (82 FR 16323), and (2) an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for other possible revisions to the pre-2016 rule (82 FR 16325).  And on August 7 (82 FR 36934), ONRR published a final rule, effective September 6, repealing the 2016 regulations, and reinstating the regulations that were previously in effect.

The Council on Environmental Quality issued final guidance on federal agencies’ consideration of climate change in NEPA reviews, which was effective, for all newly-proposed agency actions, as of its publication in the Federal Register on August 5, 2016 (81 FR 51866).  Where the NEPA review process was already underway, agencies were given discretion on applying the guidance; while “CEQ does not expect agencies to apply this guidance to concluded NEPA reviews.”  Under the guidance, agencies were now to consider the effects of their proposed actions on greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to all of the other reasonably foreseeable environmental effects of those actions.  (Note:  The guidance included several statements tempering the burden that it seemingly might otherwise impose — e.g., a reference to the regulatory provision that the extent of the review “shall be commensurate with the importance of the impact;” an acknowledgment that greenhouse gas emissions have millions of sources; and CEQ’s observations that the range of alternatives to be considered must be “consistent with the level of NEPA review . . . and the purpose and need for the proposed action,” and that “NEPA, the CEQ Regulations, and this guidance do not require the decision maker to select the alternative with the lowest net level of emissions.  Rather, they allow for the careful consideration of emissions and mitigation measures along with all the other factors considered in making a final decision.”  Nevertheless, the keep-it-in-the-grounders probably could be counted on to seize upon CEQ’s guidance as a new weapon for challenging every agency action in favor of leasing and drilling, both within the agency and in court.  However, by Executive Order 13783 of March 28, 2017, CEQ was directed to rescind this guidance; and the guidance was withdrawn by CEQ, for further consideration, by notice of April 5 (82 FR 16576).

BLM’s most recent annual update of fees for activities relating to federal mineral resources (43 CFR 3000.12) was published on September 23 (81 FR 65558), effective October 1, 2016.

The National Park Service, on November 4 (81 FR 77972), and the Fish and Wildlife Service, on November 14, 2016 (81 FR 79948), published rules governing the management of non-federal oil and gas rights on lands under their respective jurisdictions.  A review of both of these rules, for possible suspension, revision, or rescission, was directed by Executive Order 13783 of March 28, 2017.

BLM, on November 17, 2016, published its long-awaited final rules adopting new regulations to replace Onshore Oil and Gas Orders No. 3 (site security), No. 4 (oil measurement), and No. 5 (gas measurement) (81 FR 81356, 81462, and 81516 respectively), effective January 17, 2017.  (Note: In response to the proposed rules the preceding year, I, along with a number of others, submitted comments on an ambiguity in wording, under which the proposed site-security revisions might be construed as requiring BLM’s approval of an application for permit to drill a well on private or state minerals within a unit or communitization agreement.  The final rules make clear that that is not the case.)

Final rules to reduce waste of natural gas from venting, flaring, and leaks, as well as to clarify when lost gas is subject to royalties, were published by BLM on November 18, 2016 (81 FR 83008, as corrected at 81 FR 88634), effective January 17, 2017.  The rules also clarify when on-site use of production is royalty-free.  In addition — although unrelated to the rest of the rulemaking — the new rules include an amendment of the regulation on royalty rates, to conform it to the statutory provision for royalty payments on competitive leases of not less than 12.5%.  Executive Order 13783 of March 28, 2017, directed a review of this rule, for possible suspension, revision, or rescission.  As a part of that review, BLM, on June 15 (82 F.R. 27430), published a notification that those compliance dates that had not yet passed under the rule were being postponed in light of pending litigation.

The Fish and Wildlife Service published a notice of revisions to its mitigation policy with regard to adverse impacts on fish, wildlife, plants, and habitats on November 21 (81 FR 83440); and a notice of its Endangered Species Act compensatory mitigation policy on December 27, 2016 (81 FR 95316).  On November 6, 2017 (82 FR 51382), FWS published a request for comments, through January 5, 2018, to determine whether and how these policies should be revised.

New resource management planning rules were published by BLM on December 12, 2016 (81 FR 89580), effective January 11, 2017.  According to BLM, the changes, referred to as “Planning 2.0,” were made in response to concerns that the planning process has become both too slow and too unresponsive to the public.  Those two concerns may not have been easy to reconcile, since additional opportunities for public involvement appear conducive to additional litigation.  BLM’s rationale, however, was that gathering more information up front — including through a new “planning assessment” to determine baseline conditions at the start of the process — “should help reduce the need for supplementation later in the planning process, which is often the cause for long delays under the current rule.”  A significant goal of the new rules was to maintain “flexibility to plan at the appropriate scale to deal with changing resource issues” — a landscape-scale approach, under which a resource management plan would cover the geographic area that would “best address all relevant resource issues” — which may or not make sense, since each affected resource could have a different “landscape.”  On March 27, however, the President signed into law a bill revoking the new rules.

The Forest Service, with its new 2012 land use planning rule in effect, published a final rule on December 15, 2016 (81 FR 90723), effective January 17, 2017, revising its procedures for amending land management plans that were developed under prior planning rules.

BLM, on January 10, 2017 (82 FR 2906), amended Onshore Oil and Gas Order No. 1 (approval of operations), to require the electronic filing of applications for permit to drill and notices of staking.  The amendment initially was to be effective February 9; but by notice of that date (82 FR 9974), the effective date was delayed to March 21.

By Executive Order 13792 of April 26 (82 FR 20420), the President directed a review by the Secretary of the Interior of certain National Monument designations made since 1996, to result in recommendations for such actions as may be appropriate. The review was to be based on consideration of several factors, “including the [Antiquities] Act’s requirement that reservations of land not exceed ‘the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’”

By Executive Order 13795 of April 28 (82 FR 20815), the President, citing the importance to the economy and to national security of energy and minerals produced from lands and waters under federal management, directed an effort by the Secretary of the Interior to schedule an annual oil and gas lease sale in each Outer Continental Shelf Planning Area, along with other actions to facilitate OCS mineral development.

In response to the two preceding orders, the Secretary of the Interior, on May 11 (82 FR 22016), published a notice of the review of certain National Monuments under Executive Order 13792, and of certain Marine National Monuments under Executive Order 13795.  As a consequence of the review, the President has directed a reduction in the areas of two National Monuments; and additional changes are being considered.

In 1980, an area of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was recognized by law as having high potential for oil and natural gas development. In 2013, the Interior Department established a plan for management of the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, which determined nearly half of NPR-A’s area to be unavailable for leasing. By Secretarial Order No. 3352 of May 31, a review was initiated of the area within NPR-A that should appropriately be available for leasing, as well as the mineral potential of ANWR’s coastal plain.  BLM, as an outgrowth of the review, published a notice on August 7 (82 FR 36827) requesting nominations and comments for all unleased NPR-A tracts, including tracts that are unavailable under the 2013 plan.  (A lease sale that was held on December 6 for NPR-A lands, however, resulted in bids for only a fraction of the acreage that was offered.)

By notice of June 22 (82 FR 28429), the Interior Department requested public input, on an ongoing basis, regarding Departmental regulatory reform in general. Comments may be submitted either by mail or through the www.regulations.gov website.  By notice of July 17 (82 FR 32649), the Agriculture Department (which includes the Forest Service) similarly requested comments on regulatory reform, through July 17, 2018.  The Corps of Engineers did the same by notice of July 20 (82 FR 33470).

To address BLM’s recent failures to hold quarterly lease sales as required by law, Secretarial Order No. 3354, of July 6, initiated measures to improve compliance. (For background on this issue, see the Commentary page of this website.) The order also directed BLM to identify ways of improving both the onshore oil and gas leasing program and the solid mineral leasing program, as well as (in consultation with the Forest Service) to improve the processing of drilling permits.

* * *

A number of regulatory actions affecting the oil and gas industry are now under consideration by agencies in the Interior Department.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, on November 25, 2016 (81 FR 85250), published a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement relating to issuance of an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act, in connection with a habitat conservation plan that is being developed to streamline permitting for oil and gas exploration, production, and maintenance activities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

On April 3, 2017 (82 FR 16222), the Secretary announced the establishment of a Royalty Policy Committee, to provide advice on fair market value determinations and revenue collections for federal and Indian energy and mineral resources.

 


BLM Lease Sales

A competitive lease sale was held online by BLM’s Eastern States Office on December 13, 2016.  The lands offered included one parcel with State surface in Arkansas; one Bienville National Forest parcel in Mississippi; and 17 parcels in the Wayne National Forest in Ohio.  (33 Wayne National Forest parcels originally were included in the sale notice; but the others were deleted prior to the sale due to title or leasing status issues.)  The Wayne National Forest parcels, with many years’ worth of pent-up demand, drew much of the interest, with most receiving bids of over $1000 per acre, and one going for $5751.

An Eastern States sale on March 23, 2017, included 20 parcels in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest; and high bids ranged between about $1000 and $10,000 per acre.

The following Eastern States sale, which took place on June 22, contained only two parcels, of split-estate lands in Arkansas, which went for the minimum bid of $2 per acre.

The Eastern States’ most recent sale, on September 21, included just six parcels: three Wayne National Forest tracts in Ohio, and three split-estate tracts in Louisiana.  Two of the Wayne National Forest tracts drew over $1000 per acre.

The next Eastern States sale, which is scheduled for December 14, will have five Wayne National Forest parcels in Ohio, along with two parcels in the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana.  (Note: According to Eastern States staff, because of renewed controversy, it may be a while before any more lands in the Wayne National Forest are cleared by the Forest Service for leasing.)