An easement is a nonpossessory right to use and/or enter onto the real property of another without possessing it. It is "best typified in the right of way which one landowner, A, may enjoy over the land of another, B". It is similar to real covenants and equitable servitudes; in the United States, the Restatement (Third) of Property takes steps to merge these concepts as servitudes.
Easements are helpful for providing pathways across two or more pieces of property, allowing individuals to access other properties or a resource, for example to fish in a privately owned pond or to have access to a public beach. An easement is considered as a property right in itself at common law and is still treated as a type of property in most jurisdictions.
The rights of an easement holder vary substantially among jurisdictions. Historically, the common law courts would enforce only four types of easement:
Modern courts recognize more varieties of easements, but these original categories still form the foundation of easement law.
An affirmative easement is the right to use another property for a specific purpose, and a negative easement is the right to prevent another from performing an otherwise lawful activity on their own property.
For example, an affirmative easement might allow land owner A to drive their cattle over the land of B. A has an affirmative easement from B.
Conversely, a negative easement might restrict A from putting up a wall of trees that would block B's mountain view, A has a negative easement from B.
As defined by Evershed MR in Re Ellenborough Park  Ch 131, an easement requires the existence of at least two parties. The party gaining the benefit of the easement is the dominant estate (or dominant tenement), while the party granting the benefit or suffering the burden is the servient estate (or servient tenement).
For example, the owner of parcel A holds an easement to use a driveway on parcel B to gain access to A's house. Here, parcel A is the dominant estate, receiving the benefit, and parcel B is the servient estate, granting the benefit or suffering the burden.
A private easement is held by private individuals or entities. A public easement grants an easement for a public use, for example, to allow the public an access over a parcel owned by an individual.
In the US, an easement appurtenant is one that benefits the dominant estate and "runs with the land" and so generally transfers automatically when the dominant estate is transferred. An appurtenant easement allows property owners to access land that is only accessible through a neighbor's land.
Conversely, an easement in gross benefits an individual or a legal entity, rather than a dominant estate. The easement can be for a personal use (for example, an easement to use a boat ramp) or a commercial use (for example, an easement to a railroad company to build and maintain a rail line across property). Historically, an easement in gross was neither assignable nor inheritable, but commercial easements are now freely transferable to a third party. They are divisible but must be exclusive (the original owner no longer uses it and exclusive to easement holder) and all holders of the easement must agree to divide. If subdivided, each subdivided parcel enjoys the easement.
A floating easement exists when there is no fixed location, route, method, or limit to the right of way. For example, a right of way may cross a field, without any visible path, or allow egress through another building for fire safety purposes. A floating easement may be public or private, appurtenant or in gross.
One case defined it as "(an) easement defined in general terms, without a definite location or description, is called a floating or roving easement...." Furthermore, "a floating easement becomes fixed after construction and cannot thereafter be changed."
Some legal scholars classify structural encroachments as a type of easement.
In British energy law and real property law, a wayleave is a type of easement used by a utility that allows a linesman to enter the premises, "to install and retain their cabling or piping across private land in return for annual payments to the landowner." Like a license or profit-à-prendre, "[a] Wayleave is normally a temporary arrangement and does not automatically transfer to a new owner or occupier." More generally, a wayleave agreement can be used for any service provider.
In the United States, an easement in gross is used for such needs, especially for permanent rights.
An access easement provides access from a public right of way to a parcel of land. For example, if Zach and James own neighboring parcels of land, Zach's parcel may have easement rights to cross James's parcel from a public right of way. In such a case, Zach's "dominant" parcel would contain an access easement to cross James's "servient" parcel.
Easements are most often created by express language in binding documents. Parties generally grant an easement to another, or reserve an easement for themselves. Under most circumstances having a conversation with another party is not sufficient. Courts have also recognized creation of easements in other ways.
An easement may be implied or express. An express easement may be "granted" or "reserved" in a deed or other legal instrument. Alternatively, it may be incorporated by reference to a subdivision plan by "dedication", or in a restrictive covenant in the agreement of an owners association. Generally, the doctrines of contract law are central to disputes regarding express easements while disputes regarding implied easements usually apply the principles of property law.
Implied easements are more complex and are determined by the courts based on the use of a property and the intention of the original parties, who can be private or public/government entities. Implied easements are not recorded or explicitly stated until a court decides a dispute, but reflect the practices and customs of use for a property. Courts typically refer to the intent of the parties, as well as prior use, to determine the existence of an implied easement.
A government authority or private service provider may acquire an implied easement over private land by virtue of the public service it performs. For example, a local authority may have the responsibility of installing and maintaining the sewage system in an urban area. Merely by the fact that it has that responsibility, usually enshrined in some statute or local laws, may give the authority the right, by virtue of an implied easement, to enter private property to carry out installation and maintenance. The location of the easement will not usually be described precisely, but its general position will be defined by the service route (i.e., the sewer pipes in this example). Power and water lines may also have implied easements linked to them, but drainage and stormwater systems are commonly precisely defined in location and recorded in the title documents for private land.
Despite the name, necessity alone is an insufficient claim to create any easement. Parcels without access to a public way may have an easement of access over adjacent land if crossing that land is absolutely necessary to reach the landlocked parcel and there has been some original intent to provide the lot with access, and the grant was never completed or recorded but is thought to exist. A court order is necessary to determine the existence of an easement by necessity. To obtain this generally the party who claims the easement files a lawsuit, and the judge weighs the relative damage caused by enforcing an easement against the servient estate against the damage to the dominant estate if the easement is found not to exist and is thus landlocked.
Because this method of creating an easement requires imposing a burden (the easement) upon another party for the benefit of the landlocked owner, the court looks to the original circumstances in weighing the relative apportionment of benefit and burden to both lots in making its equitable determination whether such easement shall be created by the court. This method of creating an easement, being an active creation by a court of an otherwise non-existent right, may be automatically extinguished upon termination of the necessity (for example, if a new public road is built adjacent to the landlocked tenement or another easement is acquired without regard to comparison of ease or practicality between the imposed easement and any valid substitute).
There is also an unwritten form of easement referred to as an implied easement or easement by implication, arising from the original subdivision of the land for continuous and obvious use of the adjacent parcel (e.g., for access to a road, or to a source of water) such as the right of lot owners in a subdivision to use the roadway on the approved subdivision plan without requiring a specific grant of easement to each new lot when first conveyed. An easement by necessity is distinguished from an easement by implication in that the easement by necessity arises only when "strictly necessary", whereas the easement by implication can arise when "reasonably necessary". Easement by necessity is a higher standard by which to imply an easement.
In India, easement of necessity could be claimed only in such cases where transfer, bequeathment or partition necessitates such claim.
As an example, some U.S. state statutes grant a permanent easement of access to any descendant of a person buried in a cemetery on private property.
In some states, such as New York, this type of easement is called an easement of necessity.
An easement may also be created by prior use. Easements by prior use are based on the idea that land owners can intend to create an easement, but forget to include it in the deed.
There are five elements to establish an easement by prior use:
A owns two lots. One lot has access to a public street and the second is tucked behind it and fully landlocked. A's driveway leads from the public street, across the first lot and onto the second lot to A's house. A then sells off the first lot but forgets to reserve a driveway easement in the deed.
A originally had common ownership of both properties. A also used the driveway during this period. A then severed the land. Although A did not reserve an easement, the driveway is obviously on the property and a reasonable buyer would know what it is for. Finally, the driveway is reasonably necessary for a residential plot; how else could A get to the street?
Here, there is an implied easement.
Easements by prescription, also called prescriptive easements, are implied easements granted after the dominant estate has used the property in a hostile, continuous and open manner for a statutorily prescribed number of years. Prescriptive easements differ from adverse possession by not requiring exclusivity.
Once they become legally binding, easements by prescription hold the same legal weight as written or implied easements. But, before they become binding, they hold no legal weight and are broken if the true property owner takes appropriate acts to defend their ownership rights. Easement by prescription is typically found in legal systems based on common law, although other legal systems may also allow easement by prescription.
Laws and regulations vary among local and national governments, but some traits are common to most prescription laws:
Unlike fee simple adverse possession, prescriptive easements typically do not require exclusivity. In states that do, such as Virginia, the exclusivity requirement has been interpreted to mean that the prescriptive user must use the easement in a way that is different than the general public, i.e., a use that is "exclusive" to that user, Callahan v. White, 238 Va. 10, 381 S.E.2d 1 (1989).
The period of continuous use for a prescriptive easement to become binding is generally between 5 and 30 years depending upon local laws (sometimes based on the statute of limitations on trespass). Generally, if the true property owner acts appropriately to defend their property rights at any time during the required time period the hostile use will end, claims on adverse possession rights are voided, and the continuous use time period will be reset to zero.
In some jurisdictions, if the use is not hostile but given actual or implied consent by the legal property owner, the prescriptive easement may become a regular or implied easement rather than a prescriptive easement and immediately becomes binding. An example of this is the lengthy Irish Lissadell House rights of way case heard since 2010, that extended long-standing consents given to individuals into a public right of way.
In other jurisdictions, such permission immediately converts the easement into a terminable license, or restarts the time for obtaining a prescriptive easement.
Government- or railroad-owned property is generally immune from prescriptive easement in most cases, but some other types of government owned-property may be subject to prescription in certain instances. In New York, such government property is subject to a longer statute of limitations of action, 20 years instead of 10 years for private property.
In most U.S. jurisdictions, a prescriptive easement can only be determined for an affirmative easement not a negative easement. In all U.S. jurisdictions, an easement for view (which is a negative easement) cannot be created by prescription.
Prescription may also be used to end an existing legal easement. For example, if a servient tenement (estate) holder were to erect a fence blocking a legally deeded right-of-way easement, the dominant tenement holder would have to act to defend their easement rights during the statutory period or the easement might cease to have legal force, even though it would remain a deeded document. Failure to use an easement leading to loss of the easement is sometimes referred to as "non-user."
Under the civil law of Quebec possessors with the animus (will) to be owners can acquire a right of ownership (or to a dismemberment of ownership if animus is to inclined) as long as the nature of possession is peaceful, continuous, public and unequivocal throughout. (According to article 2922 of the Civil Code of Quebec or CCQ) the prescribed period is 10 years (2917–2920 CCQ), except as otherwise provided by law. (2918 sets a different time for unregistered property. Reduced from 30 years.)
Exceptions to prescription: Possession cannot establish a servitude under 1181 CCQ, but non-use of a servitude will extinguish it.
In the state of Louisiana, a mixed legal jurisdiction with strong civil law roots, prescription can be either acquisitive or liberative, both of which involve the creation or extinguishing of rights over time. Acquisitive prescription in Louisiana is analogous to the common law idea of adverse possession. As defined in La. C.C. Art. 3446, "acquisitive prescription is a mode of acquiring ownership or other real rights by possession for a period of time." Unlike the common law adverse position, Louisiana's acquisitive prescription is not a procedural bar to recovering property but the creation of a new ownership right in the property. Time periods for acquisitive prescription depend on whether the property is movable or immovable and whether the property is possessed in good faith (possessor believes they have title to the property) or in bad faith.
Liberative prescription is analogous to the common law statute of limitations. As defined in La. C.C. Art. 3447, "liberative prescription is a mode of barring of actions as a result of inaction for a period of time." It can be renewed by the party who has gained its protection. For example, a debtor's admission that a debt is still owed renews the creditor's claim against the debtor and starts the tolling of another prescriptive period. This differs from peremption, which is a fixed time for the existence of a legal right and which cannot be renewed like liberative prescription.
When a property owner misrepresents the existence of an easement while selling a property and does not include in the deed to the buyer an express easement over an adjoining property that the seller owns, a court may step in and create an easement. Easements by estoppel generally look to any promises not made in writing, any money spent by the benefiting party in reliance on the representations of the burdened party, and other factors. If the court finds that the buyer acted reasonably and in good faith and relied on the seller's promises, the court may create an easement by estoppel.
For example: Ray sells land to Joe on the promise that Joe can use Ray's driveway and bridge to the main road at any time, but Ray does not include the easement in the deed to the land. Joe, deciding that the land is now worth the price, builds a house and connects a garage to Ray's driveway. If Ray (or his successor) later decides to gate off the driveway and prevent Joe (or Joe's successor) from accessing the driveway, a court would likely find an easement by estoppel.
Because Joe purchased the land believing that there would be access to the bridge and the driveway and Joe then paid for a house and a connection, Joe can be said to rely on Ray's promise of an easement. Ray materially misrepresented the facts to Joe. In order to preserve equity, the court will likely find an easement by estoppel.
On the other hand, if Ray had offered access to the bridge and driveway after selling Joe the land, there may not be an easement by estoppel. In this instance, it is merely inconvenient if Ray revokes access to the driveway. Joe did not purchase the land and build the house in reliance on access to the driveway and bridge. Joe will need to find a separate theory to justify an easement.
In the United States, easements may be acquired (bought) by the government using its power of eminent domain in a condemnation proceeding in the courts. Note that in the United States, in accordance with the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, property cannot simply be taken by the government unless the property owner is compensated for the fair market value of what is taken. This is true whether the government acquires full ownership of the property ("fee title") or a lesser property interest, such as an easement. For example, utility providers are typically granted jurisdiction-wide easement to access and maintain their existing infrastructure.
In the law of England and Wales following the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into English law, any deprivation of the rights of the owner of property must be "in accordance with law" as well as "necessary in a democratic society" and "proportionate".
Licenses to use property in a nonpossessory manner are similar to but more limited than easements and are, under certain circumstances, transformed into easements by the courts. Some general differences do exist:
Easements are regarded as a broader and more powerful than licenses, and licenses that have any of the properties of an easement may be bound by the higher standards for termination granted by an easement.
A party claiming termination should show one or more of the following factors:
The following rights are recognized of an easement:
Blocking access to someone who has an easement is a trespass upon the easement and creates a cause of action for civil suit. For example, putting up a fence across a long-used public path through private property may be a trespass and a court may order the obstacle removed. Turning off the water supply to a downstream neighbor may similarly trespass on the neighbor's water easement.
Open and continuous trespassing upon an easement can lead to the extinguishment of an easement by prescription (see above) if no action is taken to cure the limitation over an extended period.
Under the Torrens title system of land ownership registration, easements and mortgages are recorded on the titles kept in the central land registry or cadastre. Any unrecorded easement is not recognised and no easement by prescription or implication may be claimed. However, in Australia, easements may be created by prescription or implication and enforced if an exception to indefeasibility is established, but they cannot be recorded on the title.
Air rights are the property interest in the "space" above the earth's surface. Generally speaking, owning, or renting, land or a building includes the right to use and develop the space above the land without interference by others.
This legal concept is encoded in the Latin phrase Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos ("Whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell."), which appears in medieval Roman law and is credited to 13th-century glossator Accursius; it was notably popularized in common law in Commentaries on the Laws of England (1766) by William Blackstone; see origins of phrase for details.Camp Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Camp Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a 585-acre (237 ha) National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in the U.S. state of North Dakota. The refuge is an Easement refuge that is entirely on privately owned land, but the landowners and U.S. Government work cooperatively to protect the resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees Camp Lake NWR from offices at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge.Conservation easement
In the United States, a conservation easement (also called conservation covenant, conservation restriction or conservation servitude) is a power invested in a qualified private land conservation organization (often called a "land trust") or government (municipal, county, state or federal) to constrain, as to a specified land area, the exercise of rights otherwise held by a landowner so as to achieve certain conservation purposes. It is an interest in real property established by agreement between a landowner and land trust or unit of government. The conservation easement "runs with the land", meaning it is applicable to both present and future owners of the land. As with other real property interests, the grant of conservation easement is recorded in the local land records; the grant becomes a part of the chain of title for the property.
The conservation easement's purposes will vary depending on the character of the particular property, the goals of the land trust or government unit, and the needs of the landowners. For example, an easement’s purposes (often called "conservation objectives") might include any one or more of the following:
Maintain and improve water quality;
Perpetuate and foster the growth of healthy forest;
Maintain and improve wildlife habitat and migration corridors;
Protect scenic vistas visible from roads and other public areas; or
Ensure that lands are managed so that they are always available for sustainable agriculture and forestry.The conservation easement's administrative terms for advancing the conservation objectives also vary but typically forbid or substantially constrain subdivision and other real estate development.
The most distinguishing feature of the conservation easement as a conservation tool is that it enables users to achieve specific conservation objectives on the land while keeping the land in the ownership and control of landowners for uses consistent with the conservation objectives.
The decision to place a conservation easement on a property is strictly a voluntary one whether the easement is sold or donated. The restrictions of the easement, once set in place, are perpetual (and potentially reduce the resale value of the associated property). Appraisals of the value of the easement, and financial arrangements between the parties (land owner and land trust), generally are kept private.
The landowner who grants a conservation easement continues to privately own and manage the land and may receive significant state and federal tax advantages for having donated and/or sold the conservation easement. In accepting the conservation easement, the easement holder has a responsibility to monitor future uses of the land to ensure compliance with the terms of the easement and to enforce the terms if a violation occurs.
Although a conservation easement prohibits certain uses by the landowner, such an easement does not make the land public. On the contrary, many conservation easements confer no use of the land either to the easement holder or to the public. Furthermore, many conservation easements reserve to the landowner specific uses which if not reserved would be prohibited. Some conservation easements confer specific uses to the easement holder or to the public. These details are spelled out in the legal document that creates the conservation easement.Creedman Coulee National Wildlife Refuge
Creedman Coulee National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,728-acre (1,104 ha) National Wildlife Refuge in the northern region of the U.S. state of Montana. This very remote refuge is a part of the Bowdoin Wetland Management District (WMD), and is unstaffed. The refuge consists of only 80 acres (32 ha) that are federally owned, while the remaining 2,648 acres (1,072 ha) is an easement with local landowners and on private property. The refuge is managed from Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge.Halfway Lake National Wildlife Refuge
The Halfway Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in the U.S. state of North Dakota and consists of 160 acres (0.65 km2.) The refuge is a privately owned easement refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge is closed to the public and was established to protect habitat for migratory bird species and other animal life. Chase Lake Wetland Management District oversees the refuge, which in turn is a part of the Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge Complex.Hiddenwood National Wildlife Refuge
Hiddenwood National Wildlife Refuge is a 568-acre (230 ha) National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in the U.S. state of North Dakota. The refuge is an Easement refuge that is entirely on privately owned land, but the landowners and U.S. Government work cooperatively to protect the resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees Hiddenwood NWR from offices at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge.Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge is located in Ramsey and Towner Counties near the town of Church's Ferry, North Dakota. These watersheds cover 1,000 square miles (2,600 km2) of land and provide ample water to Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge. All of these watercourses are considered intermittent, but they are prone to flooding in spring and during heavy rainstorms.
The Refuge was first established in 1935 as an easement refuge. The Refuge lands were privately owned, and no hunting was allowed. In 1972, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchased 8,600 acres (35 km2) of the original easement refuge. The Service now manages 12,179 acres (49.29 km2) at Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge.Lake Nettie National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Nettie National Wildlife Refuge is a 3,055-acre (1,236 ha) National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in the U.S. state of North Dakota. 2,420 acres (980 ha) of the refuge are public while the remaining 635 acres (257 ha) is an easement on privately owned land, but the landowners and U.S. Government work cooperatively to protect the resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees Lake Nettie NWR from offices at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge.Lake Otis National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Otis National Wildlife Refuge is a 320-acre (130 ha) National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in the U.S. state of North Dakota. The refuge is an Easement refuge that is entirely on privately owned land, but the landowners and U.S. Government work cooperatively to protect the resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees Lake Otis NWR from offices at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge.Lake Patricia National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Patricia National Wildlife Refuge is an 800-acre (320 ha) National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in the U.S. state of North Dakota. The refuge is an Easement refuge that is entirely on privately owned land, but the landowners and U.S. Government work cooperatively to protect the resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees Lake Patricia NWR from offices at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge.Lamesteer National Wildlife Refuge
Lamesteer National Wildlife Refuge is an 800-acre (320 ha) National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Montana, U.S. All of the acreage is an easement refuge and is on privately owned land but the landowners and U.S. Government work cooperatively to protect the resources. The refuge was set aside to preserve habitat for migratory birds that frequent Lamesteer Reservoir, and the refuge and reservoir are named after Lame Steer Creek. The refuge is unstaffed and is managed from Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
The 2007 plan for the refuge proposed to remove the refuge from the National Wildlife Refuge System and relinquish the easement to the current landowners.Lost Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Lost Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a 960-acre (390 ha) National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in the U.S. state of North Dakota. Lost Lake NWR is an easement refuge and is on privately owned land, but the landowners and U.S. Government work cooperatively to protect the resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees Lost Lake NWR from offices at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge.McLean National Wildlife Refuge
McLean National Wildlife Refuge is a 760-acre (310 ha) National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in the U.S. state of North Dakota. A little less than half the acreage of McLean NWR is on public lands, while the rest is an easement refuge and is on privately owned land, but the landowners and U.S. Government work cooperatively to protect the resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees McLean NWR from their offices at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge. Originally called Lake Susie NWR, the name of the refuge was changed to its current title in the 1990s.Right-of-way (transportation)
A right-of-way (ROW) is a right to make a way over a piece of land, usually to and from another piece of land. A right of way is a type of easement granted or reserved over the land for transportation purposes, such as a highway, public footpath, rail transport, canal, as well as electrical transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines. A right-of-way can be used to build a bike trail. A right-of-way is reserved for the purposes of maintenance or expansion of existing services with the right-of-way. In the case of an easement, it may revert to its original owners if the facility is abandoned.Sheyenne Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Sheyenne Lake National Wildlife Refuge is an 800-acre (320 ha) National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in the U.S. state of North Dakota. Sheyenne Lake NWR is an easement refuge and is on privately owned land, but the landowners and U.S. Government work cooperatively to protect the resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees Sheyenne NWR from their offices at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge.Sibley Lake National Wildlife Refuge
The Sibley Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in the U.S. state of North Dakota and consists of 1,077 acres (4.35 km2). Sibley Lake is a privately owned easement refuge, managed with by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge was established to protect habitat for migratory bird species, white-tail deer and other mammals. Valley City Wetland Management District oversees the refuge, which in turn is a part of the Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Sibley Lake is a 525-acre (2.12 km2) fresh water marsh.Stoney Slough National Wildlife Refuge
Stoney Slough National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,000-acre (810 ha) easement refuge with 1,120 acres (450 ha) owned in fee title and the remaining area of 880 acres (360 ha) covered by easement. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service fee title of 1,120 acres allows some wetland and upland management. The wetland areas on the Refuge cover approximately 600 acres (240 ha) in four permanent pools and two temporary pools. Water management using a series of canals and a water control structure is possible when there is sufficient spring runoff. The Refuge is a popular stopover for snow geese and white-fronted geese during fall migration.
The refuge was established by Executive Orders during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration and was set aside as "a refuge and breeding grounds for migratory birds and other wildlife." The refuge is maintained by the Valley City Wetland Management District and is a part of the Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Stoney Slough NWR is located approximately 13 miles (21 km) south and 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Valley City, North Dakota and can be reached via Highway 1 South. Potential wildlife observation and photography opportunities are available from roads adjacent to and through the Refuge.Track transition curve
A track transition curve, or spiral easement, is a mathematically-calculated curve on a section of highway, or railroad track, in which a straight section changes into a curve. It is designed to prevent sudden changes in lateral (or centripetal) acceleration. In plane (viewed from above), the start of the transition of the horizontal curve is at infinite radius, and at the end of the transition, it has the same radius as the curve itself and so forms a very broad spiral. At the same time, in the vertical plane, the outside of the curve is gradually raised until the correct degree of bank is reached.
If such an easement were not applied, the lateral acceleration of a rail vehicle would change abruptly at one point (the tangent point where the straight track meets the curve), with undesirable results. With a road vehicle, the driver naturally applies the steering alteration in a gradual manner, and the curve is designed to permit that by using the same principle.