June 27, 2014 at 2:45 AM CDT - Updated July 11 at 9:25 AM
Congressman Mac Thornberry has a solution to the land dispute between the federal government and north Texas land owners along the Red River.
Here is his press release:
Thornberry introduces bill to resolve Red River land dispute Bill protects private property, ends questions about federal ownership
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Mac Thornberry introduced a bill today to protect private property along the Red River from federal ownership claims. By providing legal certainty to landowners, the Red River Private Property Protection Act (H.R 4979) seeks to end any questions about the federal government's ownership of disputed land along the Red River. Thornberry expects Senator Cornyn to introduce a similar measure in the Senate.
“This uncertainty threatens the value of privately-owned land and has made it more difficult for property owners to make decisions,” said Thornberry. “It is essential that this issue be firmly and finally resolved so that landowners can be sure of their title. The bill contains the authority to make that happen.”
Concern arose last December when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it was beginning the process to revise its Resource Management Plan (RMP) for lands it manages. At the time, the agency said there are thousands of acres along the Red River on the border between Texas and Oklahoma that may be considered public domain. The stretch of land is located in Wilbarger, Wichita, and Clay counties.
Many landowners and other public officials are alarmed that the BLM actions might result in disputed claims of ownership. Congressman Thornberry immediately pressed the case with the BLM, locally and with the agency’s leadership in Washington. Since December, Thornberry and his staff have held multiple meetings, phone calls, and other correspondence with landowners, as well as local and state officials, to coordinate action. He has also been working with relevant House congressional committees and the State’s U.S. Senators to discuss options of how to address it. The legislation is the next step in ensuring that private property is protected.
The bill, H.R. 4979, provides legal certainty to property owners along the Red River by:
• Directing the BLM to relinquish and transfer by quit claim deed any land in Texas along the Red River to a landowner who can prove through official State or county records that they fully own the land;
• Requiring the BLM to issue a public notice of the process and accept all legitimate claims of ownership;
• Establishing a 120-day time period in which the BLM must act on a request; and
• Preventing the BLM from including any privately owned acres in a Resource Management Plan.
Thornberry has asked the House Resources Committee, which oversees the BLM and all public land issues, to hold a hearing on the legislation at the earliest possible date.