National Reclamation Act Law and Legal Definition

The National Reclamation Act of 1902 is a federal law enacted to appropriate the receipts from the sale and disposal of public lands in certain States and Territories to the construction of irrigation works for the reclamation of arid lands.

The purpose of the act was to harness the intermittent precipitation in seventeen western states and use it to encourage individual families to settle in the West by converting arid federal land into agriculturally productive land. The act created a Reclamation Service with the technical expertise to construct monumental water projects to irrigate the West, and established a Reclamation Fund to finance these expensive ventures. The act set aside money from sales of semi-arid public lands for the construction and maintenance of irrigation projects. The purpose is to sell newly irrigated land and put money into a revolving fund that supported similar projects.