Landowners along the Red River between Oklahoma and Texas are furious with a Bureau of Land Management plan to seize up to 90,000 acres, then sell it back to the owners at market prices.
BLM officials say that the land is federal property — but that bureaucrats are willing to sell it to those squatting illegally on it.
Such language has landowners livid.
Texas State Attorney General Greg Abbott — who is running for governor — has declared that he’ll fight for their rights.
“The Bureau of Land Management and Texomans are fighting for 116 miles of land along the Red River,” reports Brody Carter for KAUS, News Channel 6 in Wichita Falls, Texas. “Representatives from the B.L.M. visited residents of Texoma in Henrietta to talk about what they plan on doing with their land.”
“The Color of Title Act states that if it turns out to be Government owned land, that land can be taken and then sold back to it’s original owners at market value,” reported Carter for the local CBS television affiliate. ”Judge Kennith Liggett strongly disagrees with their plan.”
“To me it’s a double taking of an individuals private property,” says Liggett. “I don’t agree with it at all.”
“Land owners upset with a possible land grab along the Red River by the Bureau of Land Management are rallying together,” reports KFDX-TV News in Texoma, Oklahoma. ”People from across Texas will be showing their support in hopes of showing the federal government that Texas land owners are not going to give up their land without a fight.”
Jimmy Smith owns about 140 acres of that and he told KFDX that he is worried some of it may be taken by the BLM.
“Judge Liggett says there has been public confirmation that Wilbarger, Clay and Wichita County will have seats at the table with the B.L.M. when discussing and forming any future plans. He says the problem still exists between what is private and what is public. ”
“The U.S. Bureau of Land Management might consider itself warned on the need to choose wisely one’s battles and be reminded that it’s never a good time, as the saying goes, to mess with Texas,” writes Lou Ann Anderson of the Bell County Legal News Examiner.
“As concerned Texas residents await clarification from the BLM on reports that the federal agency may claim 90,000 acres of privately-held land on the Texas side of the Red River border between Texas and Oklahoma, fierce response from state officials, government watchdog groups and affected parties suggests this Red River land grab will happen neither quickly nor quietly.”
Respect for property rights and the rule of law are fundamental principles in the State of Texas and the United States. When governments simply ignore those principles, it threatens the foundation of our free and prosperous society. That is why I am deeply concerned about reports that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering taking property in the State of Texas and that it now claims belongs to the federal government. Given the seriousness of this situation, I feel compelled to seek answers regarding the BLM’s intentions and legal authority with respect to Texas territory adjacent to the Red River.
In terming this action a threat to the private property rights of hard-working Texans along the Red River, Abbot argued how private landowners have “owned, maintained, and cultivated this land for generations.” Abbott further stated, “Yet, the BLM has failed to disclose either its full intentions or the legal justification for its proposed actions. Decisions of this magnitude must not be made inside a bureaucratic black box.”
Upon reiterating his deep concern “about the notion that the BLM believes the federal government has the authority to swoop in and take land that has been owned and cultivated by Texas landowners for generations,” Abbott asked for prompt submission of the following information, according to Anderson:
- Please delineate with specificity each of the steps for the process for property along the Red River.
- Please describe the procedural due process the BLM will afford to Texans whose property may be claimed by the federal government.
- Please confirm whether the BLM agrees that, from 1923 until the ratification of the Red River Boundary Compact, the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma was the gradient line of the south bank of the Red River. To the extent the BLM does not agree, please provide legal analysis supporting the BLM’s position.
- Please confirm whether the BLM still considers Congress’ ratification of the Red River Boundary Compact as determinative of its interest in land along the Red River. To the extent the BLM does not agree, please provide legal analysis supporting the BLM’s new position.
- Please delineate with specificity the amount of Texas territory that would be impacted by the BLM’s decision to claim this private land as the property of the federal government.
Calling the BLM’s newly asserted land claims a threat that could “upset long-settled private property rights and undermine fundamental principles—including the rule of law—that form the foundation of our democracy,” Abbott asked for prompt disclosure of both the process BLM intends to follow and the legal justification for its position.
“I am about ready to go to the Red River and raise a ‘Come and Take It’ flag to tell the feds to stay out of Texas,”Abbott told Breitbart Texas.