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Real property

easement in gross

An easement in gross is an easement that benefits a particular person or entity and not a particular tract of land. The beneficiary of an easement in gross does not need to own any land adjoining the servient estate (the land that provides the use or benefit of the easement)—and often does not own any adjoining land.

For example, a rancher may grant a friend or colleague an easement in gross to come on the ranch and hunt or fish at any time. The friend or colleague may not own an adjoining property and does not need to for purposes of the easement in gross.

Easements in gross are personal or specific to a certain entity and are not transferred upon the sale of the servient estate—they do not run with the land.

In Texas, an easement in gross is a type of easement that benefits a specific person or entity rather than a piece of land. This means that the right to use the land, such as for hunting or fishing as in the example provided, is granted to an individual or entity without the requirement of owning adjacent property. Texas law recognizes easements in gross, which are typically created by an agreement or deed. Unlike appurtenant easements, which benefit a particular piece of land and transfer with it, easements in gross are personal to the holder and do not automatically transfer if the servient estate (the property burdened by the easement) is sold. The rights of the easement holder in an easement in gross are generally outlined in the agreement that created the easement, and the easement may be for a specific duration or in perpetuity, depending on the terms of the agreement.

Texas Statutes & Rules

Federal Statutes & Rules

28 U.S.C. § 1331 - Federal Question Jurisdiction
This statute is relevant because disputes involving easements can sometimes raise federal questions, particularly if they involve federal land or federal statutory rights.

28 U.S.C. § 1331 grants district courts original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. If an easement in gross dispute involves a substantial federal issue, such as an easement on federal land or under a federal program, it could be heard in federal court under this statute.

43 U.S.C. § 1761 - Grant of Easements for Rights-of-Way
This statute is relevant to easements in gross when they involve federal lands, as it outlines the process and requirements for obtaining rights-of-way over such lands.

43 U.S.C. § 1761 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to grant, issue, or renew rights-of-way through any federal lands within their respective jurisdictions. These rights-of-way can include easements in gross for various purposes, such as roads, trails, canals, pipelines, and other systems. The statute sets forth terms and conditions, including compensation, duration, and revocation, under which these easements may be granted.

16 U.S.C. § 791a et seq. - Federal Power Act
This statute may be relevant for easements in gross related to energy infrastructure, as it governs the licensing of hydroelectric power projects on navigable waters and federal lands.

The Federal Power Act, particularly sections related to the development of hydroelectric projects, may involve the granting of easements in gross for the construction and maintenance of power facilities on federal lands. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversees the issuance of licenses for such projects, which may include the creation of easements in gross to access and use specific areas for energy production and transmission.

42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq. - National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
NEPA is relevant to easements in gross when the granting or use of an easement may significantly affect the environment, requiring a federal agency to consider environmental impacts.

NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. The granting of an easement in gross on federal land for activities such as hunting, fishing, or construction may require an environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS) if it is determined that the proposed use could significantly affect the quality of the human environment.

23 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. - Federal-Aid Highway Act
This statute is relevant for easements in gross that pertain to the construction and maintenance of highways, as it provides federal assistance for highway projects.

The Federal-Aid Highway Act provides the legal framework for federal funding to states for the construction, expansion, and maintenance of highways. Easements in gross may be required for the creation or expansion of highways, especially when they cross over private lands. The Act outlines the requirements and procedures for obtaining such easements, including compensation and the rights of the state versus the rights of the property owner.