Colorado Mineral Rights

In 1916 Congress passed a public lands act containing a general reservation of valuable minerals in the lands, reserving “all the coal and other minerals in the lands” in all lands patented under the Act. And Colorado, like most other western states, recognizes separate ownership of the Surface Estate and the Mineral Estate and the distinct private property rights associated with each.Often, different parties own the surface and the subsurface, commonly referred to as Severed or Split Estate lands.

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The different ownership may have been created through the reservation of the minerals to the government when the lands were originally patented, or may result from a decision by a previous landowner to separately sell or lease the subsurface mineral interest. Because each party has rights associated with the ownership of their respective estate, individual as well as oil and gas companies that have purchased or leased mineral rights are entitled to exercise their property rights to develop the resource.

Colorado law recognizes that access to the mineral estate from the surface estate is necessary in order to develop the mineral interest. The law provides for access to the mineral estate by allowing subsurface owners "reasonable use" of the surface estate. Surface and mineral interests are created or transferred through private party contracts, including deeds and leases. In most areas of the West, including our area “Huerfano County”, real estate properties may or may not have minerals included with the purchase of the property.

For the most part minerals have been either sold, leased or retained by previous owners and are not passed with the purchase of the property. This is called a Split-Estate where the Surface Rights are sold separately from the Mineral Rights. Since the late 1990's, Oil and Gas Companies have been drilling for Coal Bed Methane or Natural Gas in many areas of Las Animas and Huerfano counties.

Over the last few years with the price of oil climbing the proliferation of active drilling throughout southern Colorado has increased and as a result buyers of real estate in our area are discovering that many present owners are not aware of the status of their properties mineral rights. Some owners don't know who owns their mineral rights or if the owners have leased the mineral rights to an oil company.

I feel that I have an obligation to stay educated in these matters to effectively look out for my clients best interests. I provide full disclosure to all of my clients concerning the status of mineral and water rights on any property you are interested in.

For information on current La Veta and Cuchara listings, contact Ed Kirkland at 719-679-1309 or

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