First published on March 21, 2012

Have you ever been out on a project site and wound up staring down the wrong end of a double-barrel shotgun or spending a weekend in the local jail for trespassing? Most of us haven’t, but if your answer to either of these questions is yes, it is likely that you may not have obtained proper Right-of-Entry (ROE) permission to ensure access to the property.

So what is ROE and why is it required?
Simply put, ROE is authorization obtained from a landowner to enter onto their property. ROE permissions could come from private land owners, government entities (BLM, BOR, State Agencies, etc.), or other jurisdictional entities (Tribal).

ROE is needed when site visits are necessary to develop a project. The visits may be required for geotechnical analysis, environmental and cultural reviews, land surveying, property appraisals, and other site assessments. ROE negotiations are often the first direct contact between the project developer and the landowners. These meetings are also the project team’s opportunity to make a case for the landowner’s participation in the project, so it is critical to have a sound communications strategy before knocking on their door.

Most importantly, if the project team does not obtain ROE prior to accessing property and the landowner experiences some form of trespass, subsequent negotiations and overall project credibility could be compromised. Careful and respectful ROE contact with landowners should always be considered a first step in an overall public information campaign. Doing so provides landowners an opportunity to hear project information first-hand and then ask questions and voice concerns before allowing access. As a result, they are more likely to support the project, which can result in fewer hurdles moving forward. Once potential landowners are contacted, word will spread fast in the community. A positive first impression can work wonders for the project.

Is ROE the same everywhere?
Though the process is similar, each state is unique and has developed specific rules and guidelines to obtaining requisite ROE permissions. Project teams should work with their counsel to identify the respective state’s statutes relative to ROE acquisition procedures. These simple steps can prevent embarrassing encounters and project risk, and help to manage clear communications about projects within the community.