Key federal statutes that confirmed or granted  split estate property rights to western ranchers.

Compiled and researched by Angus McKintosh

* links to each document will be attached as soon as I compile them in PDF format. Please be patient but if you can't wait you should be able to use the information below to find the documents you need in a web search engine. Thanks Laura.

Date passed Known As: Relevant Provisions

August 26, 1866

Act of 1866

Granted right of way for stock trails over public lands; confirmed approprication water doctrine; Severed water from the land
July 9, 1870 Act of 1866 / 1870 Amended 1866 Act to grant ROWs in reservoirs as well as ditches and canals
March 3, 1877 Desert Lands Act Severed all water from public land for the purpose of appropriation under state law, including ground water
July 5, 1884 ROW act of 1884 By specific provisions, extended the rights of way for livestock over the public land and federal reservations
Feb 25, 1885 Unlawful Enclosures Act Further protect grazing rights of ranchers by preventing encroachment on ranges of established stockmen
August 30, 1890 Act of 1890 Established 100th meridian of longitude as the line betweem {east riparian} and {west appropriation} water rights        {yes there is a difference}
March 3, 1891 Forest Reserve Act Revised most federal land laws to conform with appropriation water doctrine; granted more ditch ROWs
Jan 13, 1897 Livestock Res Site Act LRSA Specific grant of 160 acre stockwater "locations" around every stockwater site; included springs, wells,etc.; Specifically recognized right of grazing, breeding, driving
June 4, 1897 Forest Service Organic Act FSOA Guaranteed forest reserves would remian open for appropriation of water rights, protect right of access and right to build more roads and improvements
March 3, 1899 Forest Reserve ROW Act Authorized the granting of ROWs through Forest Reserves
May 23, 1908 Twenty Five Percent Fund Authorized the Secretary of Ag. to distribute 25% of forest reciepts including grazing fees to the State and County of origin
June 25, 1910 Pickett Act Authorized President and Secretary of Int. to withdraw and classify land as grazing districts to protect prior water and ROWs   {Not Public Land Anymore}
June 30, 1914 Cooperative Improvement Fund Authorized Secretary of Ag to recieve refundable cntribution from rancher for performing surveys and constructing range improvements in National Forests
Dec 29, 1916 / amendments 1929 & 1949 Stock-Raising Homestead Act SRHA and Amendments Authorized President to use Pickett Act to withdraw land that ranchers already had water rights and  ROWs on; make stock driveways; and 1929-1949 amendments specifically made compensation provisions for forage, improvements and the value of the land for grazing applicable to ranchers having range and water rights
June 28, 1934 Taylor Grazing Act Directed Secretary of Int. to grant ROWs to stockraisers who had water rights and ROWs under other Acts: established Coop Improvement Fund same as in National Forests
July 22, 1937 Bankhead - Jones Act Established national grasslands and provided for granting ROWs as part of government "resettlement program"
October 1975 Federal land Policy Management Act Repealed all previous ROW statutes but granted protection of prior rights and compensation for range improvements

*Your grazing allotment permit application states: "Subject to Valid Existing Rights"  Read the above laws and be sure you understand what these rights are.