BLM Lease Sales
No further BLM lease sales were to be held unless and until the Interior Department lifted the “pause” on new leasing that was imposed by President Biden’s executive order of January 27, 2021. But in a preliminary injunction on June 15, in State of Louisiana v. Biden, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana directed the Interior Department to do exactly that; and although the U.S. now has filed an appeal from that decision, the Department has stated that it will comply with the court’s directive and resume leasing in the meantime. And BLM, pursuant to that professed intent, has now identified limited numbers of parcels that are to be considered for leasing in the first quarter of next year. It remains to be seen, though, whether these actions will translate into the actual conduct of lease sales. See the Recent Developments page of this website for further discussion.
Among the parcels that BLM has identified for possible inclusion in a lease sale in early 2022 are tracts in three areas in the Eastern States: split-estate lands in Covington County, Alabama; lands in the DeSoto National Forest in Wayne and Jones Counties, Mississippi; and lands in the Homochitto National Forest in Franklin County, Mississippi. Scoping comments for these parcels are being accepted until October 1.
The last competitive lease sale by BLM’s Eastern States Office was held online on December 17, 2020. Fifteen parcels were offered in that sale, covering split-estate lands in Arkansas and Mississippi, along with one tract in Mississippi’s Homochitto National Forest. Only five of the parcels received bids, however; and of those, only one, in Jones County, Mississippi, went for more than the $2 per acre minimum.
In the Eastern States sale before that, on September 24, fifteen parcels were offered, including split-estate lands in Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan, and Mississippi, and an additional Mississippi tract in the Homochitto National Forest. All of the parcels were sold, including high bids of $101 per acre for one of the Alabama tracts (in Covington County); $201 and $759 per acre for the two Louisiana tracts (in Caddo Parish); $76 per acre for one of the Mississippi split-estate tracts (in Lamar County); and $201 per acre for the Homochitto National Forest tract (in Franklin County).
The preceding sale (since the June lease sale was cancelled due to the pandemic) was held on March 19, 2020. Only three parcels were offered in that sale, covering lands in the Bienville and Homochitto National Forests in Mississippi. One of the Homochitto tracts, in Franklin County, received a bid of $268 per acre, with the other tracts going for smaller amounts. That sale originally was to have also included thirteen parcels in the Wayne National Forest in Ohio – an area in which there has been high interest; but those parcels were all pulled just before the sale, as a result of the U.S. District Court decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Forest Service, finding deficiencies in the environmental assessment on which the offering of lands in the Wayne National Forest was based. For more on that decision, see the Court Opinions page of this website.