WLG employs a comprehensive approach to the public land acquisition and exchange process. An acquisition strategy, timetable, and budget are developed to provide clients with the information necessary to make informed business decisions regarding the costs, risks, and time demands of proposed transactions. WLG then works closely with the client and the appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies to ensure that all aspects of the transaction are handled in a fair and timely manner.
Over the years, WLG has developed a hands-on, problem solving approach to land acquisitions and exchanges. As a result, Federal and State land management agencies have learned that working with WLG means their land management objectives will be met in an efficient and effective manner. In addition, WLG is frequently asked to participate in Congressional hearings, public land issue workshops, and agency training sessions. WLG has also helped in establishing pertinent law, regulation and policy. For example, WLG spearheaded the effort to draft and lobby the Federal Land Exchange Facilitation Act, P.L.100-409. This Act streamlined the Federal land exchange process and alleviated significant problems in the process, particularly those related to appraisal issues.
The bulk of WLG’s land exchange projects take place through the agencies’ administrative process as defined by the authorizing laws and implementing regulations. A general decline in Federal funding for land tenure activities has resulted in a decrease in staff and resources available to process exchanges. It has been WLG’s approach to complete as many of the exchange steps as appropriate for the agencies in order to expedite the process.
In cases where lands to be exchanged are located in different states, managed by different Federal agencies, and other special situations, WLG calls upon its legislative expertise to find solutions. WLG has extensive experience drafting bills and seeing them through the legislative maze in Washington, D.C. WLG’s approach involves developing grassroots support for a measure in cooperation with Congressional champions combined with precise legislative drafting. This approach has led to the enactment of a wide variety of legislated transactions since the 1980’s.
Land and Water Conservation Fund Acquisitions
Another avenue for Federal land acquisitions involves securing funds from the Congressionally appropriated Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). On behalf of its clientele, WLG has successfully navigated the elusive appropriations process on numerous occasions.
Small Tracts Act
Congress enacted the Small Tracts Act in 1983 to allow the Forest Service to either sell or trade lands with private property owners in specific situations. The categories of potentially eligible projects include: consolidation of landownership in mining areas where Federal mineral survey fractions are interspersed with patented mining claims; resolution of inadvertent encroachments on Federal lands due to erroneous surveys, title searches or land descriptions; and, private acquisition of certain rights-of-way. WLG has facilitated numerous STA cases.
Telecommunications Infrastructure on Public Lands
Western Land Group has helped telecommunications companies secure facilities on public lands, including National Forests, military bases, and State lands throughout the United States. For example, on behalf of a multi-user telecommunications infrastructure provider and manager, WLG secured exclusive access to state-owned real estate in the State of New York. WLG guided its client through a demanding Request for Proposal process that resulted in an exclusive multi-million dollar contract. In turn, New York will be provided with a state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure as well as significant revenue to replenish depleted State coffers.