Buying a Ranch with a BLM Public Land Lease

Mar 29, 2020Buyers

If it’s your dream to have a ranch of your own, getting the acreage you need for your livestock is probably top of mind. 

The good news is, it’s not always necessary to purchase hundreds of acres outright in order to access the land that you need to have a successful ranch or farm.

Today we will discuss BLM public land leases, and help you determine if leasing your land is the right choice for you. 

What Is A BLM Public Land Lease?

The Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, allows the public to use some public lands for a number of purposes, and ranching is a common one. 

The BLM currently manages livestock grazing on approximately 155 million acres in the United States. 

In addition to the BLM, grazing leases are also commonly offered by the United States Forest Service and the California State Land Commissions, but for today we will mainly address land leases provided by the BLM. 

How Do I Apply For A Public Land Lease?

According to, 

Any U.S. citizen or validly licensed business can apply for a BLM grazing permit or lease. To do so, one must either:

  • Buy or control private property known as base property (property that has been legally recognized by the BLM as having preference for the use of public land grazing privileges), or
  • Acquire property that has the capability to serve as base property and then apply to the BLM to transfer the preference for grazing privileges from an existing base property to the acquired property (this would become the new base property).

Before buying or leasing ranch property, you should contact the local BLM field office.  

The BLM has information on the status of the grazing privileges attached to the base property, including the terms and conditions of the associated grazing permit or lease that authorizes the use of those privileges and other important information.  All applicants for grazing permits or leases must meet the qualifications for public land grazing privileges that are specified in the BLM’s grazing regulations.’

Should I Buy A Ranch That Has An Existing Public Land Lease?

Cattle grazing on public lands has proven to be very beneficial over the years, as long as it’s well managed. 

Not only is a land lease economical for the lessee, but a public land lease presents you with the opportunity to contribute to the environment in very measurable ways. 

Grazing on public lands has been proven to reduce invasive weed growth, increase wildlife diversity, and even reduce the risk of wildfires across the state. 

This cohesive relationship not only saves taxpayers money, but the yearly grazing fee that ranchers pay (which is less than the cost to rent private farm land), goes towards continued land management and conservation. 

Things To Consider

MIRR Ranch Group says, 

“When you buy land with a grazing lease, you should know how long the lease has run with the base property, and how many years are remaining on the current lease. Typically, USFS and BLM leases run with the base property for a term of 10 years.  A base property is a private property owned by the lessee that support the cattle on private land while not grazing on the leased land.”

Some other questions to ask before you agree to a land lease:

  • What are the exact terms on the grazing permit?
  • How does this land assess in terms of species, grass, soil quality, and water sources?
  • What type of land management will be allowed?
  • How will the land use be evaluated over the years?

Every land lease is unique, so it’s critical to do plenty of research. Make sure the terms of your land lease line up with the way you intend to operate your ranch. 

In summary, a public land lease is a fantastic option for many ranchers. Leasing grazing land can save you money while making a positive impact on the environment. 

If you’re looking for land, property, or ranches for sale in California, contact us at San Benito Realty today.