What is a Land Trade Request?
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is often approached by landowners and developers requesting to trade or exchange easements or fee-owned lands. The policies and procedures set forth below are established in order to assure that unsolicited requests are handled uniformly, provide for fair and consistent treatment for all requests, and ensure any actions taken by the Wilmington District are consistent with all Federal laws, Executive Orders, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations.
Our policy has been formulated to allow for the flexibility to consider land exchanges for a variety of reasons, provided the land trade is clearly in the best interest of the Government.
Will the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Trade Land?
The Wilmington District has determined all currently held easements and fee-owned lands are needed for the purposes for which they were originally acquired, and the District will not entertain requests from private parties to surplus any easements or fee-owned lands. Land exchange proposals will only be considered when it is clearly in the best interest of the Government. All exchanges must be desirable with respect to engineering, economic, environmental, real estate, and legal considerations. Requests for easement or land exchanges will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Factors that are considered when reviewing a land exchange are, but not limited to, current encroachments, land restrictions, disposal area access, parcel size, and location to the associated navigation project. The best interest of the Government may not be a 1:1 exchange of lands with regards to size, value, or intent. No land exchange will be considered solely for the benefit of a private party. Requests to surplus easement or fee-owned lands from private parties will not be considered and will be returned to the originator.
A land trade between the USACE and another entity/individual does not predetermine any Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act permit decisions. The entity/individual should contact the Wilmington Regulatory Division and the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management and disclose their development plans to make sure their project is permitable under Federal and State Laws before pursuing a land trade.
For any proposed land trades, the following conditions must be satisfied:
- The property must be adjacent to the waterway and cannot be inland.
- The net storage capacity must be greater than or equal to the existing capacity.
- The length of property along the waterway must be greater to, or equal to the depth of the property.
- The property must be in close proximity to the exchanged lands.
- The soil characteristics must be suitable for dike construction.
- The site cannot contain wetlands.
- The State of North Carolina must approve the trade.
- Environmental clearances to use the alternate site as a disposal area must be obtained by requestor's.
How a Land Trade Request Works
Evaluation of requests for land exchanges will first require the proposal be submitted in writing to the Wilmington District Land Use Coordinator, accompanied by a property plat for any land(s) to be affected. Once a request has been reviewed, the District will provide written response regarding its level of interest in the project. If the District expresses no interest in the project, then effectively, it does not believe the exchange is in the Government's best interest. Additional exchange proposals may be submitted at that time. If the District expresses interest in a proposal, then the requestor will be given an opportunity to formally present the exchange request to Corps of Engineers at a meeting held at the Wilmington District office. Any expressed interest in a proposal does not necessarily mean the request will be approved. If the project is deemed favorable, a conditional approval will be issued pending the satisfactory completion and results of additional information, such as a registered survey and environmental assessments. Once all required information has been received, discussed, and reviewed, a final decision will be rendered and an official written response issued either conditionally approving the trade request or denying it. The process to conduct an approved land exchange may take over a year to complete.
Please be aware ALL ASSOCIATED COSTS involved a Government land exchange must be paid by the requestor. This includes, but is not limited to, surveys, environmental assessments, soils sampling, recording fees, etc.
What is needed to submit a Land Trade Request?
1) If you need to discuss your Land Trade request, contact a member of the USACE Wilmington District office (call or Email):
Land Use Coordinator
Chief of Geospatial Services
Chief of Navigation
2) Use the Navigation Basemap for use in Google Earth to help you identify the USACE easement or fee-owned lands and to assist you with your mapping needs if you do not have other preferred methods.
3) Mail your preliminary written land trade request including the following items:
- A cover letter explaining your land exchange proposal.
- A map showing the land you are willing to trade the district.
- A map showing the Corps of Engineer property you are wanting to acquire.
- A narrative of how you believe this is in the districts best interest and statistics on the land you are looking to trade the district.
- ONE digital and ONE paper copy of all of the above.
Please mail or email your request to the Wilmington District Office:
US Army Corps of Engineers
Attn: Land Use Coordinator
69 Darlington Ave
Wilmington, NC 28403
Or Email packets to:SAWWEB-WILLandUse@usace.army.mil
What is needed to complete a Land Transfer Request?
If the land exchange request is conditionally approved, there are several things that will need to be completed before it can be made official. The requestor will receive a cost estimate to work and complete the transfer with your letter of conditional approval. Since the transfer is at your request, it is up to the requestor to cover all costs associated with the land exchange. The estimate will include costs for various required items, such as the Environmental Impact Statement, an official survey of the land to be traded, wetland delineations, and monies to cover the Government's time and effort to process your request.
What usually slows/holds up a Land Trade?
Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) - The EA or EIS can take up to a year to perform and is costly to complete.
Surveys - Surveying of a wooded or remote site can take a while.
Permitting - The entity/individual should contact the Wilmington Regulatory Division and the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management and disclose their development plans as soon as possible to make sure that they can get a ruling on the ability of the project to obtain a permit under Federal and State Laws before pursuing a land trade.
Unforeseen Land Title or Ownership Issues
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any staff member listed above.
Last Revised: 09 April 2015