United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: Jan 29, 2023

§ 1248.
Easements and rights-of-way
(a)
Authorization; conditions

The Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture as the case may be, may grant easements and rights-of-way upon, over, under, across, or along any component of the national trails system in accordance with the laws applicable to the national park system and the national forest system, respectively: Provided, That any conditions contained in such easements and rights-of-way shall be related to the policy and purposes of this chapter.

(b)
Cooperation of Federal agencies with Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture

The Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, the Surface Transportation Board, the Federal Communications Commission, the Secretary of Energy, and other Federal agencies having jurisdiction or control over or information concerning the use, abandonment, or disposition of roadways, utility rights-of-way, or other properties which may be suitable for the purpose of improving or expanding the national trails system shall cooperate with the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture in order to assure, to the extent practicable, that any such properties having values suitable for trail purposes may be made available for such use.

(c)
Abandoned railroad grants; retention of rights

Commencing October 4, 1988, any and all right, title, interest, and estate of the United States in all rights-of-way of the type described in section 912 of title 43, shall remain in the United States upon the abandonment or forfeiture of such rights-of-way, or portions thereof, except to the extent that any such right-of-way, or portion thereof, is embraced within a public highway no later than one year after a determination of abandonment or forfeiture, as provided under such section.

(d)
Location, incorporation, and management
(1)
All rights-of-way, or portions thereof, retained by the United States pursuant to subsection (c) which are located within the boundaries of a conservation system unit or a National Forest shall be added to and incorporated within such unit or National Forest and managed in accordance with applicable provisions of law,
(2)
All such retained rights-of-way, or portions thereof, which are located outside the boundaries of a conservation system unit or a National Forest but adjacent to or contiguous with any portion of the public lands shall be managed pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 [43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.] and other applicable law, including this section.
(3)
All such retained rights-of-way, or portions thereof, which are located outside the boundaries of a conservation system unit or National Forest which the Secretary of the Interior determines suitable for use as a public recreational trail or other recreational purposes shall be managed by the Secretary for such uses, as well as for such other uses as the Secretary determines to be appropriate pursuant to applicable laws, as long as such uses do not preclude trail use.
(e)
Release and quitclaim; conditions; sale; proceeds
(1)
The Secretary of the Interior is authorized where appropriate to release and quitclaim to a unit of government or to another entity meeting the requirements of this subsection any and all right, title, and interest in the surface estate of any portion of any right-of-way to the extent any such right, title, and interest was retained by the United States pursuant to subsection (c), if such portion is not located within the boundaries of any conservation system unit or National Forest. Such release and quitclaim shall be made only in response to an application therefor by a unit of State or local government or another entity which the Secretary of the Interior determines to be legally and financially qualified to manage the relevant portion for public recreational purposes. Upon receipt of such an application, the Secretary shall publish a notice concerning such application in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the relevant portion is located. Such release and quitclaim shall be on the following conditions:
(A)
If such unit or entity attempts to sell, convey, or otherwise transfer such right, title, or interest or attempts to permit the use of any part of such portion for any purpose incompatible with its use for public recreation, then any and all right, title, and interest released and quitclaimed by the Secretary pursuant to this subsection shall revert to the United States.
(B)
Such unit or entity shall assume full responsibility and hold the United States harmless for any legal liability which might arise with respect to the transfer, possession, use, release, or quitclaim of such right-of-way.
(C)
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the United States shall be under no duty to inspect such portion prior to such release and quitclaim, and shall incur no legal liability with respect to any hazard or any unsafe condition existing on such portion at the time of such release and quitclaim.
(2)
The Secretary is authorized to sell any portion of a right-of-way retained by the United States pursuant to subsection (c) located outside the boundaries of a conservation system unit or National Forest if any such portion is—
(A)
not adjacent to or contiguous with any portion of the public lands; or
(B)
determined by the Secretary, pursuant to the disposal criteria established by section 203 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 [43 U.S.C. 1713], to be suitable for sale.
Prior to conducting any such sale, the Secretary shall take appropriate steps to afford a unit of State or local government or any other entity an opportunity to seek to obtain such portion pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection.
(3)
All proceeds from sales of such retained rights of way shall be deposited into the Treasury of the United States and credited to the Land and Water Conservation Fund as provided in section 200302 of title 54.
(4)
The Secretary of the Interior shall annually report to the Congress the total proceeds from sales under paragraph (2) during the preceding fiscal year. Such report shall be included in the President’s annual budget submitted to the Congress.
(f)
“Conservation system unit” and “public lands” defined
As used in this section—
(1)
The term “conservation system unit” has the same meaning given such term in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (Public Law 96–487; 94 Stat. 2371 et seq.), except that such term shall also include units outside Alaska.
(2)
The term “public lands” has the same meaning given such term in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 [43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.].
(Pub. L. 90–543, § 9, Oct. 2, 1968, 82 Stat. 925; Pub. L. 95–91, title III, § 301(b), Aug. 4, 1977, 91 Stat. 578; Pub. L. 100–470, § 3, Oct. 4, 1988, 102 Stat. 2281; Pub. L. 104–88, title III, § 317(2), Dec. 29, 1995, 109 Stat. 949; Pub. L. 113–287, § 5(d)(25), Dec. 19, 2014, 128 Stat. 3266.)
cite as: 16 USC 1248