Public Lands

Our public land lawyers, including a former Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Interior, have the depth of nationwide experience to creatively and efficiently solve our clients’ complex public land challenges. From permitting the first public land utility-scale solar project and the largest wind farm in North America, to developing a regulatory path for first-of-their-kind helium and biogenic methane projects to conducting due diligence on acquisitions of federal oil and gas leases, to defending oil and gas leasing and permitting challenges with national significance, our public lands lawyers have expertise that is unmatched. Our team features top lawyers recognized in Chambers, The Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers and Top Women in Energy. Welborn lawyers have served on the industry association boards of Western Energy Alliance and Colorado Oil and Gas Association and two of our lawyers have been elected President of Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation.

Welborn’s public land lawyers expertly navigate the complex web of federal laws regulating federal lands, minerals and federally-protected resources, including:

  • Antiquities Act
  • Archaeological Resources Protection Act
  • Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act
  • Endangered Species Act
  • Federal Land Exchange Facilitation Act
  • Federal Land Policy and Management Act
  • Geothermal Steam Act
  • Helium Act
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund Act
  • Migratory Bird Treaty Act
  • Mineral Leasing Act
  • Mineral Materials Sales Act
  • Mining Law of 1872
  • Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act
  • National Environmental Policy Act
  • National Forest Management Act
  • National Historic Preservation Act
  • National Park Service Organic Act
  • Stock-Raising Homestead Act
  • Taylor Grazing Act
  • Wilderness Act
  • Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

Our public lands team also understands how federal environmental laws (e.g., Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) intersect with public land laws in the permitting of federal lands projects. We understand how federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Council on Environmental Quality, National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency work together – and don’t. We have also worked with Indian tribes and native corporations on public land development and land management issues. Our lawyers can develop strategies to improve federal agency coordination to promote timely project completion.


  • Cultural Resources: We work with clients to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) § 106 process, prepare nominations for NHPA eligible properties and assist clients with tribal consultation obligations. We have defended federal land projects challenged under the NHPA in federal courts in Utah, D.C., New Mexico, Montana and California.
  • Mining: We assist clients in acquiring mineral development rights on public lands, including perfecting and maintaining claims under the Mining Law of 1872 and leasing or buying other solid minerals. We defended the permitting of an in-situ uranium mine in Wyoming and have assisted mining companies with permitting challenges in Colorado and Montana. We represented several companies from the initial staking of claims, through financing, permitting and start-up of their mining operations in Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and California.
  • Oil & Gas: We assist clients in the oil and gas industry to lease and develop oil and gas under the Mineral Leasing Act. We represent oil and natural gas developers with title, due diligence, drilling permits and operations issues, and pipeline rights-of-way on public lands. We provided advice to a natural gas pipeline company constructing a pipeline across U.S. Forest Service, National Park and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lands in the Mid-Atlantic. We have defended oil and gas project challenges in federal district courts in D.C., Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico. We frequently represent clients before the Interior Board of Land Appeals. We have prepared comments on BLM and U.S. Forest Service planning documents to support oil and gas development.
  • Renewable Energy: We have permitted concentrated and PV-solar power facilities on BLM lands in California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming. We represented the geothermal industry with comments on the rules implementing the Energy Policy Act of 2005 amendments to the Geothermal Steam Act and assist companies to lease federal geothermal resources. We have assisted developers with wind farms on BLM lands in Wyoming and Washington, and on U.S. Forest Service land in California. We have assisted wind and solar projects with land use plan amendments to facilitate project development.
  • Timber and Grazing: We have represented timber companies with permitting and land use issues on federal lands and defended timber companies in federal courts in Montana, Idaho and California. We have counseled ranchers with grazing permits and access issues on BLM and Forest Service lands and assisted in the sale of large ranches with BLM grazing leases.
  • Water: We work with landowners and utilities on the permitting and management of water rights and water facilities on Interior- and Forest Service-managed lands in Colorado and New Mexico.
  • Wildlife: We work with developers on and off federal land to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) and Migratory Bird Treaty Act. We have assisted companies with ESA compliance for timber, oil and gas, mining, solar and renewable energy projects on federal lands and defended ESA challenges to projects in federal courts in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, California, Idaho and D.C. We work with real estate developers to comply with the BGEPA in Colorado.