How to find out who owns what’s beneath you
Letter from George Newman
Land Ownership – May 2004 – Colorado Central Magazine
The brief article in the March edition regarding federal ownership of minerals under private (fee) surface was good. Some people may wonder if they are in this situation. Here are some simple (cheap) ways to find this out:
1) Get the 30×60 minute BLM Topographic Map for your area that has both Surface Management Status & Mineral Management Status. I believe these are available from the state BLM office on Youngfield in Lakewood for $6 or so. The Mineral Management Status will show if the US owns the minerals on a specific tract. The map coverage is between even degree longitudes & every ½ degree latitude. Salida is at 106 deg. W & 38 deg. 30 min. N. Therefore the corners of 4 maps converge there, starting from the NW & going clockwise they are: Gunnison, Pikes Peak, Canon City & Saguache.
2) Order the Land Title Status Plat for your township from the same place. This will show what rights are reserved to the US Government (more accurate than the 1st option).
3) Go to the County Courthouse & trace your title back to the original patent & see what was reserved to the US Government.
4) Hire a title company or attorney to do the search for you (most expensive & also most accurate).
Having said this, just because the US doesn’t own your minerals, it doesn’t mean they weren’t split off some time after the patent. The only way to determine this is with a title search (you do it or hire it done).
If you have a Title Abstract for your land this information should be in it & possibly in your Title Policy.
If you live on an old mining claim, the US probably doesn’t own the minerals.
If you live in an area with crystalline granite on the surface the probability of oil/natural gas in the subsurface is very close to zero. It is also very low in the Arkansas Valley. Probabilities are low in South Park and the San Luis Valley, too, but not zero.
If you are buying property, these are good questions to ask at the time.
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