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Colorado State Land Right-of-Way (3-CO-b)

Colorado has approximately three million surface acres of trust lands administered by the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners (Land Board). Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners Strategic Plan, at p.1 The Land Board may grant rights-of-way for, among other things, electric power lines for the operation of utilities. C.R.S. § 36-1-136. Colorado law also provides utilities with the right to construct and obtain rights-of-way for transmission lines across state lands. C.R.S. §38-4-103. However, Colorado grants transmission rights-of-way subject to conditions determined by the Land Board. C.R.S. §38-5-102. Any right- of-way on State Land Board land is subject to local government permitting and zoning restrictions. Colo. Const. Art. IX §10(1)(c).


State Land Right-of-Way Process

3-CO-b.1 — Initiate Pre-Application Consultation

Developers must contact the State Board of Land Commissioners’ Right-of-Way (ROW) Manager prior to the submission of any application for the right-of-way. A pre-application consultation is required, which includes providing the ROW Manager with a map that shows an idea of the requested route. Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.1.

3-CO-b.2 to 3-CO-b.4 — Temporary Survey Access Application; Right-of-Way Application

Once the pre-application consultation is completed and assuming the ROW Manager is in agreement with the route, the developer must submit a Temporary Access Permit Application to the appropriate district office. The Temporary Access Permit will allow surveyors to access the property to conduct a land survey establishing the boundaries of the proposed ROW. Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.1. The surveyor must be a professional land surveyor licensed and registered in the State of Colorado. C.R.S. §12-25-201. The surveyor must perform the land survey pursuant to the Land Survey Requirements of the State Land Board. Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.1. The Land Board may issue a Temporary Access Permit not to exceed twelve (12) months. Policy No. 300-007.

The developer must submit the Temporary Access Permit Application to the appropriate District Manager and a copy of the application to the ROW Manager with the Right-of-Way Permit Application.

The developer must also complete the Application for Grant of Right-of-Way (application) for the issuance of a right-of-way on State Land Board land. The developer must also submit a land survey establishing the boundaries of the proposed right of way. Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.2.

The developer should submit the application and land survey together with an application fee to the ROW Program Manager of the State Land Board. The ROW Program will review the application and land survey for completeness, considering placement of the ROW and its impacts on existing rights-of-way or leases.

The ROW Manager will review the application materials for completeness, and may request addition information if necessary.

3-CO-b.5 to 3-CO-b.6 — Does the Application Require Approval by the Land Board?

The ROW Manager will review the application to determine whether it requires approval by the Land Board. The ROW Manager considers “the impacts to the trust lands, the placement, and determines the consideration payment as it relates to specific use and width.” Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.1. Generally, the Director of the Land Board and the ROW Manager has the authority to render final approval on ROW applications for state trust lands. Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.1. However, the Land Board, as a whole (comprised of five individuals appointed by the Governor) must approve the following rights-of-ways:

  • Rights-of-way that are to last longer than thirty years; or
  • Rights-of-way granted for the exclusive use of the occupant; or
  • Rights-of-way greater than fifty (50) feet in width; or
  • Rights-of-way for the purposes of accommodating above ground power lines with a transmission capacity of 230 Kv or greater; or
  • Rights-of-way on lands held in the Stewardship Trust.

Policy No. 300-002.


The Land Board must also approve:

  • Rights-of-way adjacent to a permanent public or private roadway; or
  • Rights-of-way immediately adjacent to a section line for 10% or more of the total length or the proposed right of way (or a total non-adjacent length of more than one quarter mile); or
  • Rights-of-way immediately adjacent to, or within, an existing public or private right of way for 10% or more of the total length of the proposed right of way; or
  • Any right-of-way consideration that is not calculated at the rates established by the Land Board; or
  • Rights-of-way pricing is not within pricing guidelines.

Policy No. 300-002.

If the right-of- way application does not require approval by the Land Board, the ROW Manager reviews the application for approval. Generally, ROW Manager approved applications take (30) thirty-days. However, applications that require the Land Board’s approval usually take (60) sixty-days.

Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.1.

3-CO-b.7 to 3-CO-b.9 —Is the Application Approved?

If the ROW is approved, the Land Board or ROW Manager issues the ROW upon submission of a consideration payment and performance bond. Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.1. The consideration payment is a single payment for the use of the trust lands for the entire term of the right-of-way. Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.1. Right-of-Ways are granted for a specified term, typically thirty (30) years, but the Land Board will consider ten (10) or twenty (20) years, subject to renewal. Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.1. The Land Board will consider a permanent ROW, but require an additional consideration payment for each additional thirty (30) years based on current pricing methods at the time. Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.1.

The performance bond is a cash deposit or corporate surety held by the Land Board to ensure completion of or payment for reclamation of land that will be or has been disturbed or damaged by the holder of a right-of-way. Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.1-2.

3-CO-b.10 to 3-CO-b.13 – Does the Developer Seek Review of the ROW Manager Decision?

If the ROW Manager denies the application for the right-of-way, or the developer disagrees with the terms of the right-of-way, the developer may request review of the ROW Manager’s decision by the Land Board. The Land Board may overrule a ROW Manager decision. C.R.S. §36-1-131(1). The developer must submit a completed Colorado Board of Land Commissioner: Request for Review application within thirty (30) days of the ROW Manager’s decision. Colorado Board of Land Commissioner: Request for Review.

The Land Board may appoint one or more of its members, a hearing officer, or other appointee to render an initial decision on the matter. The Land Board may also decline to review its decision. C.R.S. §36-1-131(1).

3-CO-b.14 — Does the Land Board or Appointee Approve the Right-of-Way?

If the Land Board or Land Board Appointee reverses the initial Land Board decision, the Land Board must issue the ROW in question. Colorado - C.R.S. 24-4-101 et seq., Rule-making and Licensing Procedures by State Agencies.

3-CO-b.15 to 3-CO-b.18 — Does the Developer Seek a Formal Hearing?

If the Land Board denies review or the Land Board Appointee renders an initial decision upholding denial of the right-of-way application, the developer may request a formal hearing before the Land Board. C.R.S. §36-1-131(1). The Land Board must provide notice of the hearing to all parties. C.R.S.§ 24-4-105(2)(a). The hearing must be conducted in accordance with the provisions of Article 4 of Title 24 (Colorado - C.R.S. 24-4-101 et seq., Rule-making and Licensing Procedures by State Agencies) of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

3-CO-b.19 to 3-CO-b.21 — Does the Land Board Approve the Right-of-Way After the Formal Hearing?

Upon approval after the formal hearing, the Land Board will grant the ROW upon submission of the necessary consideration payment and performance bond. Colorado State Land Board: Right-of-Way General Information, at p.1.

3-CO-b.22 — Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

Any person adversely affected by any Land Board action may commence an action for judicial review in the district court within thirty-five (35) days after the Land Board's final decision. C.R.S.§ 24-4-106.




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