Texas farmers and public school children scored a major victory in the battle to stop the federal government from seizing land along the Red River boundary between Texas and Oklahoma.
Breitbart Texas first brought national attention to this issue in April 2014 when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) notified farmers of their intent to take over 90,000 acres of land along a 116-mile stretch of the Red River.
The announcement of a settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed by the State of Texas, landowners, and other interested parties comes as welcome news to Texas farmers, many of whom have owned the disputed land for generations.
“The judge’s ruling approving the settlement agreement concludes a dispute which began in 2009 when BLM placed federal survey markers within Texas claiming private property along a 116-mile stretch of the Red River as federal lands,” the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) said in a written statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “In 2014, the case took on new urgency when the BLM announced it would implement a regional management plan allowing the federal government to take control over the estimated 90,000 acre disputed area within Clay, Wichita and Wilbarger counties. This claim included mineral assets owned by the Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF), which is managed by the GLO for the benefit of the schoolchildren of Texas.”
Breitbart Texas brought national attention to the issue in April 2014 when the BLM was holding planning meetings on what to do with the land along the river they claimed belonged to the BLM. Texas’ leadership including then Attorney General Greg Abbott, then Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, then General Land Office Commissioner Jerry Patterson, and State Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) joined with Texas’ U.S. Senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry to try to get the BLM to release the land back to the Texans who believed they owned the land, in some cases for many generations. Then Governor Rick Perry weighed in on the issue in May 2014 when he said the “the federal government already owns too much land.”
“The borders of Texas are a fundamental expression of our sovereignty,” Attorney General Paxton said in the TPPF release. “We are pleased that the federal government has retreated from its effort to arbitrarily infringe upon Texas land and undermine the private property rights of our citizens. The Obama Administration’s efforts to take from Texas tens of thousands of acres of our land failed, and we are grateful to the Trump Administration for finally removing this impermissible infringement upon Texas’ sovereign borders.”
TPPF general counsel and director of the Center for the American Future Robert Henneke said, “With the Court’s approval of the settlement agreement, the Bureau of Land Management has been pushed back out of Texas and across the Red River. Because of this, our clients’ homes and family lands are safe from seizure by the federal government and protected from this type of land grab happening in the future.”
“BLM has canceled its surveys and federal markers and disclaimed its maps estimating public lands within Texas along the Red River,” Henneke explained. “Now, our clients, their families, and neighbors can be at peace again within their homes.”
“I applaud President Donald Trump’s administration for withdrawing the previous administration’s false claim to private land,” Texas General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush added. “Today’s victory is one for both private property rights and for the schoolchildren of Texas. It’s also a heartening restoration of the rule of law.”
The settlement agreement restores the Texas/Oklahoma boundary to the regulations established in the 1923 Supreme Court case of Oklahoma v. Texas, TPPF officials stated.
In August 2015, Breitbart Texas reported a victory for one of the affected farmers, Tommy Henderson. Tommy Henderson met with BLM officials on the steps of the Clay County Courthouse in Henrietta, Texas, where he received a patent from the U.S. government bestowing rights to ownership and use of the property, according to an article by Lynn Walker in the Wichita Falls Times Record News.
“It has been a long time coming,” Henderson told Breitbart Texas in a phone conversation on Friday. “The BLM brought me the patent and said this was the right thing to do, finally.”