UPDATE: BLM Sets Planning Meetings, Includes Discussion on Red River Land Dispute

Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and State Rep. Jonathan Stickland meeting along the Red River with BLM spokesman Paul McGuire in April, 2014. (File Photo: Breitbart Texas/Bob Price)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning a series of public workshops as part of its ongoing Regional Resource Management Plan. The meetings will include discussions on the disputed land ownership along the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma.

Three public workshops are scheduled for later this week, according to a statement by the BLM obtained by Breitbart Texas. The BLM planning meetings are designed to solicit public input  for an update to the agency’s Resource Management Plan.

BLM spokesman Paul McGuire told Breitbart Texas in response to an inquiry that the issue of disputed land ownership along the Red River boundary between Texas and Oklahoma will be on the table for these meetings. “This is the continuation of the regional planning effort that includes BLM surface along the Red River,” McGuire wrote in an email response. He also said several million acres of subsurface minerals across the three-state region, including oil, gas, and coal, will also be discussed.

In August, Breitbart Texas reported that Texas rancher, Tommy Henderson, finally received title to land that had been in his family for generations that was given to the BLM by a judge in a federal lawsuit. The land restoration was accomplished through what is known as a “Color-of-Title” application. Once his application was finally approved, he was able to secure the title to his land by paying the statutory fee of $1.25 per acre.

In April, 2014, Breitbart Texas broke the news about what many perceived as a “land grab” being worked by the BLM over a 116 mile stretch of land along the Red River that encompassed 90,000 acres of land, including the Henderson disputed land. A public battle between Texas officials and the BLM ensued that involved then Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, then General Land Office Commissioner Jerry Patterson, then Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Congressman Mac Thornberry and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz who all went to bat for the land owners in that area.

Henderson’s victory in August was the first step in what many hope will lead to the BLM returning more of the land to the private property owners in Texas. In reference to the other Red River land owners, Henderson told Breitbart Texas in August, “They are trying to keep their land, I was trying to get mine back. Now that the process for the color-of-title process to work properly, it should be easier on everyone else.”

“We’re pleased to have been able to help resolve the land ownership issue with Mr. Henderson,” McGuire wrote in August in response to an inquiry from Breitbart Texas. “The Color-of-Title Act is a useful tool for addressing situations where an individual appears to hold title to public land. If certain criteria are met, an applicant can obtain a patent conveying clear title to the lands by paying a fair and reasonable price that reflects current market value, discounted for taxes paid and any improvements to the land. Mr. Henderson’s application met the requirements of the Act. Others with land adjoining the federal corridor along the Red River may be in a similar situation, and we stand ready to review any valid applications.”

“The purpose of the meetings is to engage the public in the next phase of the planning process, which is to develop draft alternatives to serve as the basis for BLM management decisions going forward.” McGuire concluded in his most recent statement.

The BLM announcement provided the following information:

Management alternatives to be developed will be informed by the extensive public scoping that occurred last year and the results of these meetings. The agencies employ an interdisciplinary approach to ensure consideration of a full range of resource issues and concerns. Specialists with expertise in minerals and geology, archaeology, wildlife and fisheries, lands and realty, hydrology, soils, livestock grazing, recreation, sociology, and economics are engaged, along with cooperating agencies with special statutory authority to participate (e.g. counties).  Each workshop will include a formal presentation about potential planning alternatives and will seek public input to help guide the development of alternatives.

This planning process complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Federal Land Management and Policy Act (FLPMA) which require the agencies to develop RMPs and periodically update/revise them based on cumulative experience, changing conditions, new science and public input. The goal is to arrive at management decisions through an open and collaborative process that best meet local, regional and national needs.

Dates and locations of scheduled workshops are:

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Fort Worth Library – Ella Mae Shamblee Branch
1062 Evans Ave.
Fort Worth, Texas, 76104

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015
5:30-7:30 p.m.
University of Oklahoma – National Weather Center
120 David L. Boren Blvd., Rm. 1350
Norman, Okla., 73072

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Lionel D. Alford Branch Library
3447 S. Meridian Ave.
Wichita, Kan., 67217

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.