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16 U.S. Code § 410eeee–2 - Acquisition of property

(a) Authority of Secretary; manner; donation of State lands; improved and unimproved properties

Within the boundaries of the New River Gorge National River,[1] the Secretary may acquire lands and waters or interests therein by donation, purchase with donated or appropriated funds, transfer, or exchange. Lands owned by the State of West Virginia or a political subdivision thereof may be acquired by donation only. In addition, the Secretary may acquire by any of the foregoing methods not to exceed ten acres outside the boundaries of the national river for an administrative headquarters site, and funds appropriated for land acquisition shall be available for the acquisition of the administrative headquarters site. The authority of the Secretary to condemn in fee, improved properties as defined in subsection (c) of this section shall not be invoked as long as the owner of such improved property holds and uses it in a manner compatible with the purposes of this subchapter. The Secretary may acquire any such improved property without the consent of the owner whenever he finds that such property has undergone, since January 1, 1978, or is imminently about to undergo, changes in land use which are incompatible with the purposes of the national river. The Secretary may acquire less than fee interest in any improved or unimproved property within the boundaries of the national river.

(b) Non-federally owned lands; cooperative agreements affecting properties of historical significance

On non-federally owned lands within the national river boundaries, the Secretary is authorized to enter into cooperative agreements with organizations or individuals to mark or interpret properties of significance to the history of the Gorge area.

(c) “Improved property” defined

For the purposes of this Act, the term “improved property” means (i) a detached single family dwelling, the construction of which was begun before January 1, 1977 (hereafter referred to as “dwelling”), together with so much of the land on which the dwelling is situated, the said land being in the same ownership as the dwelling, as the Secretary shall designate to be reasonably necessary for the enjoyment of the dwelling for the sole purpose of noncommercial residential use, together with any structures necessary to the dwelling which are situated on the land so designated, or (ii) property developed for agricultural uses, together with any structures accessory thereto which were so used on or before January 1, 1977, or (iii) commercial and small business properties which were so used on or before January 1, 1977, the purpose of which is determined by the Secretary to contribute to visitor use and enjoyment of the national river. In determining when and to what extent a property is to be considered an “improved property”, the Secretary shall take into consideration the manner of use of such buildings and lands prior to January 1, 1977, and shall designate such lands as are reasonably necessary for the continued enjoyment of the property in the same manner and to the same extent as existed prior to such date.

(d) Owner’s reservation of right of use and occupancy for fixed term of years or for life; election by owner; fair market value; termination; notification

The owner of an improved property, as defined in this subchapter, on the date of its acquisition, as a condition of such acquisition, may retain for himself, his heirs and assigns, a right of use and occupancy of the improved property for noncommercial residential, or agricultural purposes, or the continuation of existing commercial operations, as the case may be, for a definite term of not more than twenty-five years, or, in lieu thereof, for a term ending at the death of the owner or the death of his spouse, whichever is later. The owner shall elect the term to be reserved. Unless the property is wholly or partially donated, the Secretary shall pay to the owner the fair market value of the property on the date of its acquisition, less the fair market value of the property on that date of the right retained by the owner. A right retained by the owner pursuant to this section shall be subject to termination by the Secretary upon his determination that it is being exercised in a manner inconsistent with the purposes of this subchapter, and it shall terminate by operation of law upon notification by the Secretary to the holder of the right of such determination and tendering to him the amount equal to the fair market value of that portion which remains unexpired.

[1]  See Change of Name note below.
Editorial Notes
References in Text

This Act, referred to in subsec. (c), is Pub. L. 95–625, Nov. 10, 1978, 92 Stat. 3467, known as the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Tables.


Section was formerly classified to section 460m–16 of this title.

Pub. L. 99–591 is a corrected version of Pub. L. 99–500.


1986—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 99–500, Pub. L. 99–590, Pub. L. 99–591, amended subsec. (a) identically inserting provisions relating to acquisition of an administrative headquarters site.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Change of Name

New River Gorge National River redesignated New River Gorge National Park and Preserve by Pub. L. 116–260, div. FF, title II, § 202, Dec. 27, 2020, 134 Stat. 3089, which is classified to section 410eeee of this title.