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Acquiring Federal Rights of Way--The Forest Service Special Use Authorization Process

Larry D. Gash, Rights-of-Way: How Right is Your Right-of-Way?

Forest Service managers have a major role in managing linear right-of-way uses. They must ensure that adverse environmental impacts are minimized while providing for the very real and legitimate needs of the public, industry and other governmental agencies. At the same time, they are responsible for insuring that the proliferation of separate rights-of-way are held to a minimum. Most of the rights-of-way administered by the Forest Service are linear in nature or have a linear aspect to them such as a communication site which is actually a point location involving some linear arrangement of radio or microwave frequencies. Uses include oil and gas pipelines (energy related), electric transmission and distribution facilities, pipelines, conduits, and ditches (water or other non-energy related materials), roads, trails, railroads and tramways, telephone including fiber optic facilities and most recently cellular telephone uses.

The Forest Service uses a system of transportation and utility corridors, where available, for the location of these linear rights-of-way.2 A transportation or utility corridor is defined as a linear strip of land identified for present or future location of transportation or utility rights-of-way within its boundaries.3 Corridors are usually not wider than 5 miles, and are limited by technological, environmental and topographical factors. They cont