HOUSTON, Texas–Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) announced the joint filing of legislation that should settle the land dispute between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Texas landowners. The bill follows the BLM’s reassertion last week regarding federal ownership and control of the disputed land.
Rep. Thornberry introduced the Red River Private Property Protection Act (H.R 4979) to clarify ownership of the land along the Red River boundary between Texas and Oklahoma. “My bill tries to make it clear,” Thornberry says in an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas, “if you’ve got records in the county clerk’s office or the state office that show you’re the owner, then you’re the owner. And, the BLM has got to give you a deed that affirms that you’re the owner. “
If the bill passes he said, “There is no question about ownership, about title. It’s your land and you can do what you want with it.”
Thornberry explained the records the land owner would present would have to be consistent with the current process of how one now proves ownership of land. “If the county records show that you own that land,” he expressed, “then the BLM has to acknowledge that and give you a quitclaim deed to end any speculation that there is further federal control over that privately held land.”
The bill should clear up an issue that has left many, including the Boy Scouts (who have a campground in the disputed region), uncertain about where their property line is and who owns the land. “If people are unsure whether they’re affected or not,” Thornberry explained, “this settles it. One of the things I’m afraid of is, that if this drags on there would be a cloud on the title that would prevent people from borrowing money on the land, using it for agricultural purposes, or whatever. That needs to be cleared up, so this is a final way to get that done.”
Thornberry has asked the House Resources Committee to have a hearing on the bill as soon as possible and he believes it could move forward as quickly as next month.
Complete interview with Congressman Mac Thornberry:
Thornberry said Senator Cornyn was submitting a companion bill in the Senate. “Senator Cornyn and I have been working on this together,” Thornberry stated. “I think there is a good chance that this approach is something that the BLM may even support so that we can get this authority passed and the land owners can then come in and establish their claim and the issues are resolved.”
Responding to an inquiry from Breitbart Texas, Sen. Cornyn said, “The BLM has created concern and confusion along a stretch of the Red River for Texas property owners who have in some cases owned their land for generations and continue to pay property taxes. This common-sense legislation establishes an orderly process to bring back certainty for these landowners and gives the BLM the tools they need to quickly resolve this situation.”
Breitbart Texas also reached out to the BLM for their reaction to the legislation. BLM spokesman Paul McGuire said, “BLM is aware of the proposal, and we’re eager to work with Congressional leaders and other stakeholders to address and resolve the important land use and ownership issues raised by our planning efforts along the Red River. We’ve been reaching out to landowners and elected officials at multiple meetings since concluding our formal scoping phase earlier this year, and all parties are motivated to work together.”
Bob Price is a staff writer and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.