TX NATURAL RESOURCES CODE

SUBTITLE B. SURVEYS AND SURVEYORS

CHAPTER 51. LAND, TIMBER, AND SURFACE RESOURCES

SUBCHAPTER G. EASEMENTS



§ 51.291. GRANTS OF EASEMENTS.
     (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b) of this section, the commissioner may execute grants of easements for rights-of-way across, through, and under unsold public school land, the portion of the Gulf of Mexico within the jurisdiction of the state, the state-owned riverbeds and beds of navigable streams in the public domain, and all islands, saltwater lakes, bays, inlets, marshes, and reefs owned by the state within tidewater limits for:
          (1) telephone, telegraph, electric transmission, and powerlines;
          (2) oil pipelines, including pipelines connecting the onshore storage facilities with the offshore facilities of a deepwater port, as defined by the federal Deepwater Port Act of 1974 (33 U.S.C.A. Section 1501 et seq.), gas pipelines, sulphur pipelines, and other electric lines and pipelines of any nature;
          (3) irrigation canals, laterals, and water pipelines;
          (4) roads; and
          (5) any other purpose the commissioner considers to be in the best interest of the state.
     (b) Consent to conduct an activity that would disturb or remove marl, sand, gravel, shell, or mudshell on or near the surface of a state-owned riverbed or the bed of a navigable stream in the public domain may be granted only under Chapter 86, Parks and Wildlife Code.
     (c) Money received by the land office for the grants of easements through and under the state-owned riverbeds and beds of navigable streams in the public domain shall be deposited in a special fund account in the state treasury to be used for the removal or improvement of unauthorized structures on permanent school fund land. This fund does not impose a duty or obligation on the state to accept ownership of, remove, or improve unauthorized structures on permanent school fund land.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2438, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 624, § 35, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 991, § 15, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.

§ 51.292. EASEMENTS AND LEASES FOR CERTAIN FACILITIES.
     The commissioner may execute grants of easements or
      leases for electric substations, pumping stations, loading racks, and tank farms to be located on state land other than land owned by The University of Texas System.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2438, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 51.293. EASEMENTS ON UNIVERSITY LAND.
     (a) The Board of Regents of The University of Texas System may continue to execute all right-of-way easements under authority already granted across land that belongs to the state but is dedicated to the support and maintenance of The University of Texas System for telephone, telegraph, electric transmission, and powerlines, for oil pipelines, gas pipelines, sulphur pipelines, and other electric lines and pipelines of any nature, and for irrigation canals, laterals, and water pipelines.
     (b) The board of regents may continue to execute under authority already granted grants of easements or leases for the erection and maintenance of electric substations, pumping stations, loading racks, and tank farms on university land.
     (c) In addition to the purposes for which grants of easements may be executed under Subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the board of regents may execute grants of easements on university land for any other purpose it considers to be in the best interest of the permanent university fund land.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2438, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 624, § 36, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.

§ 51.294. FORMS FOR GRANT.
     Easements granted under Sections 51.291 through 51.293 of this code shall be granted on forms approved by the attorney general.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2438, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 51.295. CONDITIONS FOR EASEMENT.
     Telephone, telegraph, electric transmission, powerline, and pipeline right-of-way easements and easements or rights-of-way for irrigation canals, laterals, and water pipelines shall be executed on terms to be determined by the commissioner or the board of regents, but no easement for an oil, gas, or sulphur pipeline or a telephone, telegraph, electric transmission, or powerline easement may be granted that does not provide for the annual privilege fee of not less than two and one-half cents a lineal rod a year.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2438, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 51.296. TERM OF EASEMENTS.
     (a) Except as provided in Subsection (b) of this section, no grant of easement or lease enumerated under Section 51.293 of this code may be granted for a term that is longer than 10 years, but an easement or lease may be renewed by the board of regents of The University of Texas System. The term for easements or leases granted under Sections 51.291 and 51.292 of this subchapter may be for any term the commissioner deems to be in the best interest of the state.
     (b) The commissioner by rule shall set the amount of and shall collect money for damages to the surface of land dedicated to the permanent school fund.
     (c) Money collected for surface damages shall be deposited in the special fund account described in Section 52.297 of this code.
     (d) A right-of-way easement for a pipeline connecting onshore storage facilities with the offshore facilities of a deepwater port, as defined by the Deepwater Port Act of 1974 (33 U.S.C.A. Section 1501 et seq.), may be granted for a term coincident with the term of the license issued by the secretary of transportation pursuant to the Deepwater Port Act of 1974 (33 U.S.C.A. Section 1501 et seq.), and the easement may be renewed for additional terms of up to 10 years coincident with the term for each renewal of the license.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2439, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 624, § 37, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 208, § 7, eff. Aug. 31, 1987.

§ 51.297. RECORDING EASEMENTS.
     (a) Each easement granted under Sections 51.291 through 51.293 of this code shall be recorded in the county clerk's office of the county in which the land is located, and the recording fee shall be paid by the person who obtains the easement.
     (b) The person who obtains an easement under Sections 51.291 and 51.292 of this code shall furnish to the commissioner a certified copy of the easement. The person who obtains an easement under Section 51.293 of this code shall furnish to the board of regents of The University of Texas System a certified copy of the easement.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2439, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 923, § 12, eff. Aug. 26, 1985; Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 208, § 12, eff. Aug. 31, 1987.

§ 51.298. ANNUAL PRIVILEGE FEE.
     (a) A person who occupies or uses any unsold public school land, any islands, saltwater lakes, bays, inlets, marshes, or reefs owned by the state within tidewater limits, any portion of the Gulf of Mexico within the jurisdiction of the state, or any unsold public land dedicated to The University of Texas System as a right-of-way for a telephone, telegraph, electric transmission, or powerline, for an oil pipeline, gas pipeline, or sulphur pipeline, or for an irrigation canal, lateral, or water pipeline shall pay annually in advance to the commissioner an amount equal to two and one-half cents a lineal rod a year for each rod of telephone, telegraph, electric transmission, or powerline, or each rod of oil or gas pipeline.
     (b) The annual privilege fee shall be paid by those persons who have not previously paid this fee on all oil pipelines, gas pipelines, and telephone, telegraph, electric transmission, and powerlines that are in existence and located on public land mentioned in Subsection (a) of this section.
     (c) The fee shall be paid annually unless the grant of the easement makes some other provision.
     (d) A higher annual privilege fee may be set by contract between the authorized officials and the grantee of the easement.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2439, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 51.299. FEES FOR CERTAIN FACILITIES.
     The rent to be charged for an easement or lease for an electric substation site, pumping station, loading rack, tank farm, or road or for an easement for a purpose not specifically listed by Section 51.291, 51.292, or 51.293 of this code but granted in the best interest of the state or the permanent university fund land shall be an amount agreed to between the lessee and the board of regents with respect to university land and the commissioner with respect to other state land.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2439, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 624, § 38, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.

§ 51.2995. WAIVER OR REDUCTION OF EASEMENT FEES IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES.
     The commissioner may waive or reduce an easement
      fee if the easement granted is to improve the infrastructure of the land, including production and transportation of alternative or renewable energy resources.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 280, § 27, eff. June 18, 2003.

§ 51.300. DISPOSITION OF INCOME.
     Income received by the commissioner under this subchapter from public school land shall be credited to the permanent school fund, and income received from university land shall be credited to the available university fund. Other income received by the commissioner on other land under this subchapter shall be credited to the General Revenue Fund.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2439, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 328, § 5, eff. Jan. 1, 2004.

§ 51.301. INTEREST ON PAST-DUE PAYMENTS.
     (a) Payments under this subchapter that are past due shall bear interest at a rate of 10 percent a year.
     (b) If no date for payment is provided in the contract or if no written contract has been executed, the unpaid annual fees shall bear interest at a rate of 10 percent calculated from January 1 following the year for which the annual privilege fee was due.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2440, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 51.302. PROHIBITION AND PENALTY.
     (a) No person may construct or maintain any structure or facility on land owned by the state, nor may any person who has not acquired a proper easement, lease, permit, or other instrument from the state as required by this chapter or Chapter 33 of this code and who owns or possesses a facility or structure that is now located on or across state land continue in possession of the land unless he obtains from the commissioner, the board, or the board of regents an easement, lease, permit, or other instrument required by this chapter or Chapter 33 of this code for the land on which the facility or structure is to be constructed or is located.
     (b) A person who constructs, maintains, owns, or possesses a facility or structure on state land without a proper easement or lease from the state under this chapter or under Chapter 33 of this code is liable for a penalty of not less than $50 or more than $1,000 a day for each day that a violation occurs. The penalty shall be recovered by the commissioner under Section 51.3021 of this code or in a civil action by the attorney general.
     (c) A person who owns, maintains, or possesses an unauthorized facility or structure is, for purposes of this section, the person who last owned, maintained, or possessed the facility or structure.
     (d) The commissioner or attorney general may also recover from a person who constructs, maintains, owns, or possesses a facility or structure on state land without the proper easement the costs to the state of removing that facility or structure under Section 51.3021 of this code.
     (e) Penalties and costs recovered under this section shall be deposited in the special fund established under Sections 52.297 and 53.155 of this code.
     (f) This section is cumulative of all other applicable penalties or enforcement provisions of this code.
     (g) In lieu of seeking administrative penalties or removal of the facility or structure under Section 51.3021 of this code, the commissioner may elect to accept ownership of the facility or structure as a fixture and may exercise the state's rights as owner of the facility or structure by filing notice of such ownership in the real property records of the county in which the facility or structure is located. For facilities or structures located on coastal public land and connected with the ownership of adjacent littoral property, notice of ownership shall be filed in the county in which the adjacent littoral property is located.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2440, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 624, § 39, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 465, § 1, eff. June 11, 1991;

Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 991, § 16, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 280, § 28, eff. June 18, 2003.

§ 51.3021. REMOVAL OF FACILITY OR STRUCTURE BY COMMISSIONER.
     (a) The commissioner may remove and dispose of a
      facility or structure on land owned by the state if the commissioner finds the facility or structure to be:
          (1) without the proper easement or lease from the state under Chapter 33 or 51 of this code; or
          (2) an imminent and unreasonable threat to public health, safety, or welfare.
     (b) Before the commissioner may remove a facility or structure under this section or impose a penalty under Section 51.302 of this code, the commissioner must give written notice to a person who is constructing, maintains, owns, or possesses the facility or structure. The notice must state:
          (1) the specific facility or structure that is without proper easement or lease or that threatens public health, safety, or welfare;
          (2) that the person who is constructing, maintains, owns, or possesses the facility or structure shall remove the facility or structure:
               (A) not later than the 30th day after the date on which the notice is served, if the facility or structure is on state land without a proper lease or easement; or
               (B) within a reasonable time specified by the commissioner if the facility or structure is an imminent and unreasonable threat to public health, safety, or welfare;
          (3) that failure to remove the facility or structure may result in liability for a penalty under Section 51.302(b) of this code in an amount specified, removal by the commissioner and liability for the costs of removal, attachment of a lien to the adjacent littoral property to secure payment of the penalty and costs of removal, or any combination of such remedies; and
          (4) that the person who is constructing, maintains, owns, or possesses the facility or structure may submit, not later than the 30th day after the date on which the notice is served, written request for a hearing.
     (c) The notice required by Subsection (b) of this section must be given:
          (1) by service in person or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested; or
          (2) if personal service cannot be obtained or the address of the person responsible is unknown, by posting a copy of the notice on the facility or structure and by publishing notice in a newspaper with general circulation in the county in which the facility or structure is located two times within 10 consecutive days.
     (d) The commissioner by rule shall adopt procedures for a hearing under this section.
     (e) The commissioner must grant a hearing if a hearing is requested. A person who does not timely request a hearing waives all rights to judicial review of the commissioner's findings or orders and shall immediately remove the facility or structure and pay any penalty assessed. If a hearing is held, the commissioner shall issue a final order concerning removal of the facility or structure and payment of a penalty.
     (f) The trial courts of this state shall give preference to an appeal from a final order of the commissioner under this section as provided by Section 23.101(a), Government Code.
     (g) The commissioner may contract for the removal and disposal of a facility or structure under this section and may pay the costs of removal from the special fund established under Sections 52.297 and 53.155 of this code or from funds appropriated by the legislature.
     (h) If the person who is constructing, maintains, owns, or possesses the facility or structure does not pay assessed penalties, removal costs, and other assessed fees and expenses not later than the 60th day after the entry of a final order assessing the penalties, costs, and expenses, the commissioner may:
          (1) sell salvageable parts or attachments of the facility or structure to offset those costs;
          (2) record a lien, in the total amount of the penalties, costs, and other fees and expenses assessed, against the adjacent littoral property;
          (3) request the attorney general to institute civil proceedings to collect the penalties, costs of removal, and other fees and expenses remaining unpaid; or
          (4) use any combination of the remedies prescribed by this subsection, or other remedies authorized by law, to collect the unpaid penalties, costs of removal, and other fees and expenses assessed on account of the unauthorized facility or structure on state land and its removal by the commissioner.
     (i) The lien authorized by this section arises and attaches at the time a notice of lien is recorded and indexed in the real property records in the county where the adjacent littoral property is located. The notice of lien must contain a legal description of the adjacent littoral property, the name of the owner of the adjacent littoral property, if known, and the total amount of the penalties, costs, and other fees. The lien is subordinate to the rights of prior bona fide purchasers or lienholders on the adjacent littoral property.
     (j) The decision to remove a facility or structure under this section is discretionary with the commissioner. This section does not impose a duty on the state to remove a facility or structure or to remedy or warn of a hazardous condition on state land.
     (k) A wrecked, derelict, or substantially dismantled vessel that is moored or left in place for at least 21 days without the consent of the commissioner is considered a structure for purposes of this section.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 465, § 2, eff. June 11, 1991. Amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 991, § 17, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Acts 2005, 79th Leg., ch. 216, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 2005.

§ 51.303. VENUE.
     The venue for suits by or against the state under Sections 51.291 through 51.3021 of this code or for violation of provisions of Sections 51.291 through 51.302 of this code shall be in Travis County.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2440, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 465, § 3, eff. June 11, 1991.

§ 51.304. EASEMENTS FOR SOIL CONSERVATION AND FLOOD PREVENTION.
     The commissioner may execute grants of easements on
      unsold public school land to conservation and reclamation districts for soil conservation and flood prevention projects authorized by the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (16 U.S.C. Section 1001 et seq.), as amended.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2440, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 51.305. TERMS AND FORM OF GRANT.
     The grant of the easement may contain any provisions that the commissioner considers necessary to protect the interests of the state and may be perpetual or for a term of years.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2440, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 51.306. CONSIDERATION.
     The consideration paid to the state for the grant of the easement under Section 51.304 of this code shall be determined by the commissioner to compensate the state for any damage to the land or to the use of the land caused by the easement, but if the commissioner determines that the benefits resulting from the grant of the easement are more than the damage, the commissioner may waive the consideration for the easement.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2440, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 51.307. RESERVATION OF MINERAL RIGHTS.
     Mineral rights together with the right to explore for, produce, and market the minerals in land granted as an easement under Section 51.304 of this code shall be reserved to the state and shall be subject to lease for minerals in the same manner as other unsold public school land.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2441, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.