Michael J. Sherman

Michael J. Sherman
Sacramento, CA
Portland, OR

About Michael

Michael Sherman helps those who develop and work the land and what lies beneath it.  His practice focuses on land use, transactional, and federal and state wildlife issues for developers, farmers, and mining and oil and gas companies.

For every client and project--big or small--Michael has a drive to never quit until the job is done.  Clients value Michael’s hard work, resourcefulness and persistence -- all values instilled in him by growing up and working in the agricultural industry.  Prior to practicing law, he owned a custom hay and straw business and worked on his family’s dairy cattle and hog farms in Oregon.  This experience guides Michael’s approach to always provide practical and straightforward advice, with an eye on the bottom-line.

Michael’s work with mining companies extends throughout California with experience working on over 50 mine sites in 25 counties.  His experience includes examining title for unpatented mining claims, negotiating mining leases, conducting acquisition due diligence, permitting new mines and expansions under SMARA, and resolving compliance issues and enforcement actions by local lead agencies, the SMGB and OMR.  This breadth and depth of experience as a California mining attorney makes Michael a more effective advocate and advisor to his mining clients. 

Michael also represents upstream oil and gas companies with operations in California.  In an industry heavily scrutinized by regulators and the public, oil and gas clients appreciate Michael’s thorough and thoughtful advice when addressing land use, endangered species and regulatory issues.  He also regularly assists clients with oil and gas title issues, including resolving disputes with mineral and royalty owners and issuing drilling title opinions and division order title opinions.

Clients in the oil and gas, mining, agricultural, renewable energy and other industries also rely on Michael’s experience with a wide variety of fish and wildlife issues, including federal and California Endangered Species Act permitting, enforcement actions by the USFWS and CDFW, streambed alteration agreements and compliance with the California Fish and Game Code.

Michael currently serves on the board of directors for the California Mineral Education Foundation and as a member of the Young Professionals Committee for the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation.

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Aggregate, Industrial Mineral and Metallic Mineral Mines

  • Transactional due diligence (purchase and sale, leasing):
    • Negotiated conveyance documents and advised on due diligence issues for acquisition of mineral rights and unpatented mining claims at rare earth mine in San Bernardino County
    • Negotiated mining lease for aggregate mine in Riverside County
    • Drafted easement agreements, mitigation purchase option agreement, and water use agreements for roofing granules mine acquisition in Amador County
    • Negotiated and drafted mining lease for underground gold mine in Amador County
    • Drafted mining lease for placer gold deposit in Plumas County
    • Negotiated and drafted mining lease and option to purchase for open pit gold mine in San Bernardino County
  • Mineral title examination on private land and unpatented placer mining claims, lode mining claims and mill sites:
    • Unpatented mining claims (370 lode claims and 280 mill sites) for gold mine in Imperial County
    • Unpatented lode claims, mill sites and patented mining claims for silver mine in San Bernardino County
  • Compliance with the California and federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), California Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA), Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), Clean Water Act (CWA), California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA):
    • Aggregate mine in Fresno County (SMARA and CEQA compliance)
    • Aggregate mine in Madera County (SMARA, California ESA and CWA compliance)
    • Gold mine in Mariposa County (CEQA, SMARA and backfill requirements)
    • Silver mine in San Bernardino County (CEQA, SMARA and backfill requirements)
    • Gold mine in Imperial County (CEQA, SMARA and backfill requirements)
    • Gold mine in Los Angeles County (FLPMA and NEPA compliance)
    • Gold mine in Nevada County (vested rights, SMARA and CEQA)

Oil and Gas Exploration and Production

  • Rendered title opinions on producing and non-producing oil and gas properties throughout California:
    • Complex division order title opinions and division of interests, ranging in size from a few mineral owners to 500-plus mineral owners
    • Drilling title opinions for vertical and horizontal wells
  • Advised on acquisition due diligence, including:
    • $25 million acquisition of private and state oil and gas leases and producing oil wells in Kern and Monterey Counties
    • $2 million acquisition of private and federal oil and gas leases and producing gas wells in Northern California
  • Drafted, negotiated and advised on compliance with joint operating, farm-out/in, pooling and other agreements related to exploration and production
  • Advised on compliance with CEQA and SB 4 well stimulation permitting law

Fish and Wildlife Permitting and Compliance

  • Assisted with preparing applications for Section 2081 incidental take permit under the California Endangered Species Act and Section 1602 streambed alteration agreement for large-scale residential/mixed use project in Los Angeles County
  • Advised on California Endangered Species Act and federal Endangered Species Act issues for solar projects in the San Joaquin Valley, including incidental take issues for San Joaquin kit fox and blunt-nosed leopard lizard
  • Assisted clients facing potential enforcement actions by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for alleged violations of the California Endangered Species Act and federal Endangered Species Act
  • Prepared Section 2081 incidental take permit application under the California Endangered Species Act for an aggregate mine with potential impacts to California tiger salamander
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Honors & Activities

  • Secretary, Board of Directors, California Mineral Education Foundation
  • Member, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation
  • Member, Bakersfield Association of Professional Landmen
  • Member, Sacramento Petroleum Association
  • Member, California Construction and Industrial Materials Association
  • Member, California Independent Petroleum Association
  • Member, Environmental and Real Property Law Section, California State Bar
  • Member, Environmental and Real Property Law Section, Sacramento County Bar Association
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

Oil and Gas


  • “An Update on the Modernization of California’s Surface Mining Law & Backfill Regulations” (co-presenter), American Exploration & Mining Association Annual Meeting, Dec. 2016
  • “California Supreme Court Extends State Land Use Power to Federal Land,” Daily Journal Article, Sept. 2016
  • “Crossing the Community Property Border” (co-presenter), 62nd Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, July 2016
  • “The Next California Gold Rush?  An Update on the Regulatory Environment for Metallic Mines in California” (presenter), Mining and Land Resources Institute, March 2016
  • “Annual Mining and Public Land Law Update” (presenter and author), 60th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, July 2014
  • “California Mining Law: Backfill Requirements for Metallic Mines” (presenter), California Department of Conservation, May 2013
  • “Federal Mining Law Year in Review” (co-author), American Association of Professional Landmen Annual Conference, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Fish and Wildlife

  • “The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan: Reconciling Competing Policies in the California Desert” (co-author), North American Clean Energy, Nov./Dec. 2016
  • “California’s Endangered Species Act: Its Role as an Overlay to the Federal ESA and the Key Areas of Difference” (presenter), LSI ESA/CESA Seminar, June 2016
  • Michael regularly discusses his insights on California fish and wildlife issues on Stoel Rives’ California Environmental Law Blog

Related News & Publications

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