U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Dec 08, 2019
(a) General requirements. The entryman, his assigns, or, in case of death, his heirs or devisees, are allowed 4 years from date of the entry within which to comply with the requirements of the law as to reclamation and cultivation of the land and to submit final proof, but final proof may be made and patent thereon issued as soon as there has been expended the sum of $3 per acre in improving, reclaiming, and irrigating the land, and one-eighth of the entire area entered has been properly cultivated and irrigated, and when the requirements of the desert-land laws as to water rights and the construction of the necessary reservoirs, ditches, dams, etc., have been fully complied with.
(1) Where the proof establishes that the entryman cannot effect timely compliance with the law, the entry must be canceled unless statutory authority permits the granting of an extension of time or other relief.
(b) Notice of intention to make final proof. When an entryman has reclaimed the land and is ready to make final proof, he should apply to the authorizing officer for a notice of intention to make such proof. This notice must contain a complete description of the land, give the number of the entry and name of the claimant, and must bear an endorsement specifically indicating the source of his water supply. If the proof is made by an assignee, his name, as well as that of the original entryman, should be stated. It must also show when, where and before whom the proof is to be made. Four witnesses may be named in this notice, two of whom must be used in making proof. Care should be exercised to select as witnesses persons who are familiar, from personal observation, with the land in question, and with what has been done by the claimant toward reclaiming and improving it. Care should also be taken to ascertain definitely the names and addresses of the proposed witnesses, so that they may correctly appear in the notice.
(c) Publication of final-proof notice. The authorizing officer will issue the usual notice for publication. This notice must be published once a week for five successive weeks in a newspaper of established character and general circulation published nearest the lands (see 38 L.D. 131; 43 L.D. 216). The claimant must pay the cost of the publication but it is the duty of authorizing officers to procure the publication of proper final-proof notices. The date fixed for the taking of the proof must be at least 30 days after the date of first publication. Proof of publication must be made by the statement of the publisher of the newspaper or by someone authorized to act for him.
(d) Submission of final proof. On the day set in the notice (or, in the case of accident or unavoidable delay, within 10 days thereafter), and at the place and before the officer designated, the claimant will appear with two of the witnesses named in the notice and make proof of the reclamation, cultivation, and improvement of the land. The testimony of each claimant should be taken separately and apart from and not within the hearing of either of his witnesses, and the testimony of each witness should be taken separately and apart from and not within the hearing of either the applicant or of any other witness, and both the applicant and each of the witnesses should be required to state, in and as a part of the final-proof testimony given by them, that they have given such testimony without any actual knowledge of any statement made in the testimony of either of the others. In every instance where, for any reason whatever, final proof is not submitted within the 4 years prescribed by law, or within the period of an extension granted for submitting such proof, a statement should be filed by claimant, with the proof, explaining the cause of delay.
(e) Showing as to irrigation system. The final proof must show specifically the source and volume of the water supply and how it was acquired and how it is maintained. The number, length, and carrying capacity of all ditches, canals, conduits, and other means to conduct water to and on each of the legal subdivisions must also be shown. The claimant and the witnesses must each state in full all that has been done in the matter of reclamation and improvements of the land, and must answer fully, of their own personal knowledge, all of the questions contained in the final-proof blanks. They must state plainly whether at any time they saw the land effectually irrigated, and the different dates on which they saw it irrigated should be specifically stated.
(f) Showing as to lands irrigated and reclaimed. While it is not required that all of the land shall have been actually irrigated at the time final proof is made, it is necessary that the one-eighth portion which is required to be cultivated shall also have been irrigated in a manner calculated to produce profitable results, considering the character of the land, the climate, and the kind of crops being grown. (Alonzo B. Cole, 38 L.D. 420.) The cultivation and irrigation of the one-eighth portion of the entire area entered may be had in a body on one legal subdivision or may be distributed over several subdivisions. The final proof must clearly show that all of the permanent main and lateral ditches, canals, conduits, and other means to conduct water necessary for the irrigation of all the irrigable land in the entry have been constructed so that water can be actually applied to the land as soon as it is ready for cultivation. If pumping be relied upon as the means of irrigation, the plant installed for that purpose must be of sufficient capacity to render available enough water for all the irrigable land. If there are any high points or any portions of the land which for any reason it is not practicable to irrigate, the nature, extent, and situation of such areas in each legal subdivision must be fully stated. If less than one-eighth of a smallest legal subdivision is practically susceptible of irrigation from claimant's source of water supply and no portion thereof is used as a necessary part of his irrigation scheme, such subdivision must be relinquished. (43 L.D. 269.)
(g) Showing as to tillage of land. As a rule, actual tillage of one-eighth of the land must be shown. It is not sufficient to show only that there has been a marked increase in the growth of grass or that grass sufficient to support stock has been produced on the land as a result of irrigation. If, however, on account of some peculiar climatic or soil conditions, no crops except grass can be successfully produced, or if actual tillage will destroy or injure the productive quality of the soil, the actual production of a crop of hay of merchantable value will be accepted as sufficient compliance with the requirements as to cultivation. (32 L.D. 456.) In such cases, however, the facts must be stated and the extent and value of the crop of hay must be shown, and, as before stated, that same was produced as a result of actual irrigation.
(h) Showing as to water right. (1) In every case where the claimant's water right is founded upon contract or purchase the final proof must embrace evidence which clearly establishes the fact and legal sufficiency of that right. If claimant's ownership of such right has already been evidenced in connection with the original entry or some later proceeding, then the final proof must show his continued possession thereof. If the water right relied on is obtained under claimant's appropriation, the final proof, considered together with any evidence previously submitted in the matter, must show that the claimant has made such preliminary filings as are required by the laws of the State in which the land is located, and that he has also taken all other steps necessary under said laws to secure and perfect the claimed water right. In all cases the water right, however it be acquired, must entitle the claimant to the use of a sufficient supply of water to irrigate successfully all the irrigable land embraced in his entry, notwithstanding that the final proof need only show the actual irrigation of one-eighth of that area.
(2) In those States where entrymen have made applications for water rights and have been granted permits but where no final adjudication of the water right can be secured from the State authorities owing to delay in the adjudication of the watercourses or other delay for which the entrymen are in no way responsible, proof that the entrymen have done all that is required of them by the laws of the State, together with proof of actual irrigation of one-eighth of the land embraced in their entries, may be accepted. This modification of the rule that the claimant must furnish evidence of an absolute water right will apply only in those States where under the local laws it is impossible for the entryman to secure final evidence of title to his water right within the time allowed him to submit final proof on his entry, and in such cases the best evidence obtainable must be furnished. (35 L.D. 305.)
(3) It is a well-settled principle of law in all of the States in which the desert land acts are operative that actual application to a beneficial use of water appropriated from public streams measures the extent of the right to the water, and that failure to proceed with reasonable diligence to make such application to beneficial use within a reasonable time constitutes an abandonment of the right. (Wiel's Water Rights in the Western States, sec. 172.) The final proof, therefore, must show that the claimant has exercised such diligence as will, if continued, under the operation of this rule result in his definitely securing a perfect right to the use of sufficient water for the permanent irrigation and reclamation of all of the irrigable land in his entry. To this end the proof must at least show that water which is being diverted from its natural course and claimed for the specific purpose of irrigating the lands embraced in claimant's entry, under a legal right acquired by virtue of his own or his grantor's compliance with the requirements of the State laws governing the appropriation of public waters, has actually been conducted through claimant's main ditches to and upon the land; that one-eighth of the land embraced in the entry has been actually irrigated and cultivated; that water has been brought to such a point on the land as to readily demonstrate that the entire irrigable area may be irrigated from the system; and that claimant is prepared to distribute the water so claimed over all of the irrigable land in each smallest legal subdivision in quantity sufficient for practical irrigation as soon as the land shall have been cleared or otherwise prepared for cultivation. The nature of the work necessary to be performed in and for the preparation for cultivation of such part of the land as has not been irrigated should be carefully indicated, and it should be shown that the said work of preparation is being prosecuted with such diligence as will permit of beneficial application of appropriated water within a reasonable time.
(4) Desert-land claimants should bear in mind that a water right and a water supply are not the same thing and that the two are not always or necessarily found together. Strictly speaking, a perfect and complete water right for irrigation purposes is confined to and limited by the area of land that has been irrigated with the water provided thereunder. Under the various State laws, however, an inchoate or incomplete right may be obtained which is capable of ripening into a perfect right if the water is applied to beneficial use with reasonable diligence. A person may have an apparent right of this kind for land which he has not irrigated, and which, moreover, he never can irrigate because of the lack of available water to satisfy his apparent right. Such an imperfect right, of course, cannot be viewed as meeting the requirements of the desert-land law which contemplates the eventual reclamation of all the irrigable land in the entry. Therefore, and with special reference to that portion of the irrigable land of an entry not required to be irrigated and cultivated before final proof, an incomplete (though real) water right will not be acceptable if its completion appears to be impossible because there is no actual supply of water available under the appropriation in question.
(i) Showing where water supply is derived from irrigation project. (1) Where the water right claimed in any final proof is derived from an irrigation project it must be shown that the entryman owns such an interest therein as entitles him to receive from the irrigation works of the project a supply of water sufficient for the proper irrigation of the land embraced in his entry. Investigations by field examiners as to the resources and reliability, including particularly the source and volume of the water supply, of all irrigation companies associations, and districts through which desert-land entrymen seek to acquire water rights for the reclamation of their lands are made, and it is the purpose of the Bureau of Land Management to accept no annual or final proofs based upon such a water right until an investigation of the company in question has been made and report thereon approved. The information so acquired will be regarded as determining, at least tentatively, the amount of stock or interest which is necessary to give the entryman a right to a sufficient supply of water; but the entryman will be permitted to challenge the correctness of the report as to the facts alleged and the validity of its conclusions and to offer either with his final proof or subsequently such evidence as he can tending to support his contentions.
(2) Entrymen applying to make final proof are required to state the source of their water supply, and if water is to be obtained from the works of an irrigation company, association, or district the authorizing officer will endorse the name and address of the project upon the copy of the notice to be forwarded to the State Director. If the report on the company has been acted upon by the Bureau of Land Management and the proof submitted by claimant does not show that he owns the amount of stock or interest in the company found necessary for the area of land to be reclaimed, the authorizing officer will suspend the proof, advise the claimant of the requirements made by the Bureau of Land Management in connection with the report, and allow him 30 days within which to comply therewith or to make an affirmative showing in duplicate and apply for a hearing. In default of any action by him within the specified time the authorizing officer will reject the proof, subject to the usual right of appeal.
(j) Final-proof expiration notice. (1) Where final proof is not made within the period of 4 years, or within the period for which an extension of time has been granted, the claimant will be allowed 90 days in which to submit final proof. (44 L.D. 364.)
(2) Should no action be taken within the time allowed, the entry will be canceled. The 90 days provided for in this section must not be construed as an extension of time or as relieving the claimant from the necessity of explaining why the proof was not made within the statutory period or within such extensions of that period as have been specifically granted.
(k) Requirements where township is suspended for resurvey. No claimant will be required to submit final proof while the township embracing his entry is under suspension for the purpose of resurvey. (40 L.D. 223.) This also applies to annual proof. In computing the time when final proof on an entry so affected will become due the period between the date of suspension and the filing in the local office of the new plat of survey will be excluded. However, if the claimant so elects, he may submit final proof on such entry notwithstanding the suspension of the township.