Navigability Unit

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Survey Windows:

  • Before land can be patented to corporations or certified as Native allotments it has to be surveyed.
  • Each year the Navigability Team at BLM evaluates particular areas, referred to as windows, for navigable waters prior to the field survey work.
  • Nav Team members review maps and other documents to guarantee that water bodies the state believes to be navigable are addressed appropriately prior to the survey of allotments (which can be fairly small in size) or corporation lands (where only township corners are actually marked).
  • BLM does not make navigability determinations on any rivers greater than 198 feet in width or lakes greater than 50 acres in size (title of the submerged lands remains in question); nor do they address waterways within pre-statehood withdrawals.
  • BLM conveys to the upland owner the streambeds of all waterbodies not identified as navigable. Once a survey is approved by BLM and ADNR survey sections it is considered a final action and makes any future changes difficult.

Avulsed Lands - submerged land uplifted during a natural event (e.g., earthquake):

  • At the time of statehood the state received title to submerged lands under the Submerged Lands Act.
  • The 1964 earthquake uplifted some of those submerged lands.
  • Title to those uplifted, or "avulsed" lands, remained with the state; however, ordinary high water was never formally established prior to the earthquake, so now (30 years later) there are questions about what land is avulsed and what shorelands the state actually owns.
  • Ownership of the shoreline would provide uninterrupted public access along the coast.