WICHITA FALLS, TEXAS–Texas rancher Tommy Henderson lost 140 acres of his land during a lawsuit that turned it over to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 28 years ago. Now, more land owners along the Texas/Oklahoma Red River boundary have learned that tracts they believe is their property may be part of a federal land management study. Henderson took Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson on a tour of the now-federal land he once owned.
Breitbart Texas was invited by Mr. Henderson to participate in the tour of his ranch and see first-hand just how his property has been impacted by a court ruling that the BLM told him, at the time, was wrong. Henderson claims the BLM told him, “You got screwed” and said they would help him get the land returned to his control and ownership.
During the tour, the three men stopped for a moment to talk about what they observed in an exclusive Breitbart Texas interview:
The land we were standing on, while not having crossed the Red River, is technically in Oklahoma because of court decisions and the Texas Red River Compact agreed to in 2000.
The site where the interview occurred was approximately a mile-and-a-half from the Red River with massive amounts of vegetation between where we were and where the river area actually begins. A tree line is visible in the background that does not appear to have been washed out by an avulsive event. The land, now occasionally used for grazing, was used prior to the court decision for growing cotton. Henderson told Breitbart Texas he grew his most successful cotton crop on the taken 140 acres.
Henderson told Breitbart Texas during a lunch meeting earlier in the day that BLM officials in1988 told him to apply for a “Color of Title” transfer and they would help rectify what they believed was an error by the courts. He also applied for grazing permits at that time to continue legal use of the land. Henderson claimed the officials assured him that he would be taken care of, but those officials have long since retired.
At the time of the court case, Henderson–like most of the other ranchers involved in the matter–admitted he could not afford the legal fees that would be required to appeal the court’s decision. Despite current denials by the BLM to being a party to the case, Henderson said the BLM was actively involved in the lawsuit.
As Henderson has already lost his land, he is not directly involved in the current land dispute where the BLM is asserting the Henderson case as precedent of their ownership of the additional 90,000 acres. Henderson was asked by the other affected landowners and the Texas Farm Bureau to be a spokesman to represent their issues. Henderson would, however, like to get his land back and be compensated or come to a usage agreement with the BLM.
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