Frequently Asked Questions - Outstanding and Reserved Rights

Questions Regarding Outstanding and Reserved (Privately Owned) Mineral Rights Beneath Wayne National Forest System Lands

Q. What are Outstanding and Reserved mineral rights?

A. Outstanding mineral rights are owned by a party other than the surface owner at the time the surface was conveyed to the United States of America (USA).

Reserved mineral rights are those rights held by the surface owner at the time the surface was conveyed to the USA. Holders of reserved mineral rights are
required to follow the rules and regulations included in the deed transferring the surface to the USA should they choose to exercise these reserved mineral

Q. How are these rights managed on the Wayne National Forest?

A. All mineral exploration and development activities, be they outstanding or reserved, are carefully managed to achieve the highest resource protection possible while ensuring reasonable access to the mineral owner or developer.

The owner and/or developer is responsible for providing proof of the right to conduct the proposed mineral operations, an Ohio drilling permit and an Operating Plan for the Forest Service to review at least 60 days in advance of commencing planned operations.

The Operating Plan addresses, among other things, reclamation or restoration of land impacted by the planned operation. The WNF ensures the resources are protected by determining whether or not the operation:

• Plans to use only so much of the surface as is prudently necessary═ż
• Is consistent with rights granted when the minerals were separated from the surface estate in the mineral severance deed.

The WNF negotiates with the owner/operator to adopt specific measures for the protection of resources, such as the location of the well pad and access road, the timing of land clearing, best management practices are followed and mitigation of impacts to Forest resources are achieved.

The WNF and the ODNR work with the owner and/or operator throughout the exploration, development, and extraction processes on National Forest System lands. All inspection and enforcement on WNF lands are done in cooperation with the ODNR.

Q. Can the Forest Service purchase these privately owned mineral rights?

A. The Forest Service can purchase mineral rights if they become available for sale, there are funds for the purchase, and the purchase would meet specific resource objectives. The Forest Service may acquire land or mineral rights from willing sellers.

Q. What is the process used for outstanding and reserved rights to be developed on National Forest lands?

A. When a mineral owner or operator intends to extract their minerals or extract their resource, the following must be provided to the decision maker (District Ranger or Forest Supervisor) associated with the area, prior to beginning operations:

1) Provide to decision maker, where the mineral operation is planned, acceptable proof of ownership or leasehold of the oil and gas. This should include an attorney’s opinion of title as well as relevant deeds and leases.

2) Appoint a designated field representative who is empowered by the company to legally act in its behalf.

3) Provide to decision maker a map showing the location of the proposed activity and the location of all improvements.

4) Provide to decision maker a plan of operation and an Ohio drilling permit, including a schedule for construction and drilling.

5) Provide to decision maker a soil erosion and sedimentation control plan.

All of these materials must be supplied to the decision maker as soon as possible so the Forest may attempt to process the request within in 60 days of submission of all necessary items. Operations conducted contrary to the foregoing may violate federal laws and result in citations against the offender(s).

As part of an environmental review, Forest Service specialist’s review the Operating Plan for consistency with the Forest Plan, and conduct a site visit.

The results of the Forest Service environmental review are used to work with the operator in identifying measures or practices they could adopt to allow the operation to be consistent with the Forest Plan, or otherwise lessen environmental effects of their operation on National Forest resources.

Private mineral owners or operators must obtain any and all necessary Ohio issued permits that are required for their operation. Private mineral owners are encouraged to follow Ohio’s Oil & Natural Gas Best Management Practices (BMPs).

The Forest Service works with State offices issuing permits to ensure that the proposed operation meets State requirements and National Forest resources are protected.

Q. How are the impacts to the Forest managed?

A. Minerals development can result in a variety of impacts to natural resources. Together, the private mineral developer, the Forest Service, and the State of Ohio work to address items like:

• Water quality in nearby streams
• Sedimentation from earthwork associated with mineral development, such as access road construction or mineral extraction site development
• Disruption of nesting or breeding wildlife
• Removal of trees to create the mineral development site
• The spread and control of non-native Invasive Species

The impacts are managed by using the terms found in the mineral severance deed that provide surface owner controls, by state law and regulation, and through negotiation with the mineral operator to achieve desired resource protections.

Go to... Questions on Leasing Federally-Owned Oil and Natural Gas Beneath Wayne National Forest (WNF) System Lands