43 U.S. Code § 321 - Entry right generally; extent of right to appropriate waters

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It shall be lawful for any citizen of the United States, or any person of requisite age “who may be entitled to become a citizen, and who has filed his declaration to become such” and upon payment of 25 cents per acre—to file a declaration under oath with the officer designated by the Secretary of the Interior of the land district in which any desert land is situated, that he intends to reclaim a tract of desert land not exceeding one-half section, by conducting water upon the same, within the period of three years thereafter: Provided, however, That the right to the use of water by the person so conducting the same, on or to any tract of desert land of three hundred and twenty acres shall depend upon bona fide prior appropriation; and such right shall not exceed the amount of water actually appropriated, and necessarily used for the purpose of irrigation and reclamation; and all surplus water over and above such actual appropriation and use, together with the water of all lakes, rivers, and other sources of water supply upon the public lands and not navigable, shall remain and be held free for the appropriation and use of the public for irrigation, mining, and manufacturing purposes subject to existing rights. Said declaration shall describe particularly said one-half section of land if surveyed, and, if unsurveyed, shall describe the same as nearly as possible without a survey. At any time within the period of three years after filing said declaration, upon making satisfactory proof to the officer designated by the Secretary of the Interior of the reclamation of said tract of land in the manner aforesaid, and upon the payment to such officer of the additional sum of $1 per acre for a tract of land not exceeding three hundred and twenty acres to any one person, a patent for the same shall be issued to him. Except as provided in section 3 of the Act of June 16, 1955, as amended, no person may make more than one entry under sections 321 to 323, 325, and 327 to 329 of this title. However, in that entry one or more tracts may be included, and the tracts so entered need not be contiguous. The aggregate acreage of desert land which may be entered by any one person under this section shall not exceed three hundred and twenty acres, and all the tracts entered by one person shall be sufficiently close to each other to be managed satisfactorily as an economic unit, as determined under rules and regulations issued by the Secretary of the Interior.

(Mar. 3, 1877, ch. 107, § 1, 19 Stat. 377; Aug. 30, 1890, ch. 837, § 1, 26 Stat. 391; Mar. 3, 1891, ch. 561, § 2, 26 Stat. 1096; Oct. 28, 1921, ch. 114, § 1, 42 Stat. 208; Mar. 3, 1925, ch. 462, 43 Stat. 1145; 1946 Reorg. Plan No. 3, § 403, eff. July 16, 1946, 11 F.R. 7876, 60 Stat. 1100; Pub. L. 85–641, § 1, Aug. 14, 1958, 72 Stat. 596.)
Editorial Notes
References in Text

Section 3 of the Act of June 16, 1955, referred to in text, is section 3 of act June 16, 1955, ch. 145, 69 Stat. 138, as amended, which is set out as an Additional Desert-Land Entry note under section 83 of Title 30, Mineral Lands and Mining.


The original text provided for the sale of 640 acres. The aggregate quantity which any person could acquire under all the land laws was limited, however, to 320 acres by act Aug. 30, 1890 (set out as section 212 of this title) except in the case of mineral lands.


1958—Pub. L. 85–641 permitted entry on one or more tracts, not contiguous, but sufficiently close to each other to be managed satisfactorily as an economic unit.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Arizona Entries Dependent Upon Percolating Waters

Act Aug. 4, 1955, ch. 548, 69 Stat. 491, provided:

“The requirement of section 1 of the Desert Land Act of March 3, 1877 (19 Stat. 377) [this section], that the right to the use of water by a desert land entryman ‘shall depend upon bona fide prior appropriation’ shall be waived in the case of all desert land entries which have heretofore been allowed and are subsisting on the effective date of this Act [Aug. 4, 1955] which are dependent upon percolating waters for their reclamation, and which are situated in the State of Arizona under the laws of which the percolating waters upon which the entries are dependent are not subject to the doctrine of prior appropriation but are usable under State law for irrigation and reclamation purposes.”
Section as Unaffected by Submerged Lands Act

Provisions of this section as not amended, modified or repealed by the Submerged Lands Act, see section 1303 of this title.

Executive Documents
Transfer of Functions

For transfer of functions of other officers, employees, and agencies of Department of the Interior, with certain exceptions, to Secretary of the Interior, with power to delegate, see Reorg. Plan No. 3 of 1950, §§ 1, 2, eff. May 24, 1950, 15 F.R. 3174, 64 Stat. 1262, set out under section 1451 of this title.

“Officer designated by the Secretary of the Interior” and “such officer” substituted for “register” on authority of section 403 of Reorg. Plan No. 3 of 1946, which abolished all registers of district land offices and transferred functions of district land offices to Secretary of the Interior. See section 403 of Reorg. Plan No. 3 of 1946, set out as a note under section 1 of this title. Previously, references to register and receiver changed to register by acts Mar. 3, 1925, and Oct. 28, 1921, which consolidated offices of register and receiver and provided for a single officer to be known as register.