Buying National Forest Land
(An excerpt from 69
Ways To Make Money In Real Estate)
By Steve Gillman - 2006
Want to help consolidate state and national lands - while
making a profit? Be warned: There can be politics involved. But
there can also be big profits.
Where I used to live in Northern Michigan, real estate deals
between developers and the state or national forests were not
uncommon. Direct sales are uncommon, because neither the National
Forest Service nor the State Departments of Natural Resources
have much in their budgets for buying more land. What they can
do, however, is trade land.
Why do the administrators of public lands do this? To consolidate
wild lands. If you have ever looked at a plat map (a map showing
ownership of land) for an area that has national or state forests,
you may have noticed that the forests consist of a patchwork
of properties. There is private land mixed with public. There
may even be little pieces of state or national forest land that
are miles away from the rest of the forest.
Forest Land Investment
Suppose you have some land in the middle of a large state
forest. The state would like to have it, in order to make the
state forest more complete. They don't have the money to pay
you, but they do have isolated pieces of land closer to a nearby
town, and they may be willing to trade one of these for your
land. You negotiate an exchange.
The state gets the land it wants, and you get what you want.
What you want, as an investor, is land that has more value. You
may have paid $60,000 for the property in the state forest, and
traded it for a piece that can be sold for $100,000.
This process happens also when ski resorts are built in the
west. It is nearly impossible to buy national forest land, or
to sell land to the Forest Service. However, trading pieces of
land is how both the resorts and the Forest Service sometimes
consolidate land for their purposes.
Of course, this can be a difficult way to make money starting
from scratch. You don't want to just start buying land hoping
that you can trade it for more valuable land. If you have land
that adjoins public land, however, this is a strategy to keep
There is another possibility. Find private land in a National
or State Forest, and then tie it up with an option. Then you
can negotiate with the Forest Service to see if they might make
a trade. Before you do even this, however, talk to a couple insiders
to see if they are doing any trading in your area.