WICHITA FALLS, TX - Congressman Mac Thornberry is working with Senator John Cornyn to help protect the rights of Texas landowners who live on a disputed 116mile stretch along the Red River.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has claimed that they are going to be taking back portions of private property from landowners along the Red River stretching across three counties Wilbarger, Wichita, and Clay. Many of the landowners hold deeds and have also been paying taxes on the property for generations. However, the BLM said that the deeds are worthless because they should have never been issued.
Native Texans who have lived along the Red River, like Ken Aderholt of Harrold, were confused by that claim. Aderholt said the 1,200 plus acres he farms have been in his family for over 70 years. The BLM has always had a right to what is called the small inland sandy gradient boundary of land along the Red River, but today the BLM claims the true boundary is around half a mile inland.
Aderholt and as many as 7 other individual landowners as well as Clay, Wichita and Wilbarger Counties, and the Clay County sheriff has filed a lawsuit against the BLM. The suit was filed against the BLM and the Department of Interior, as well as BLM Director Neil Kornze and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
Towards the end of 2015 Congressman Thornberry was able to help pass the "Red River Private Property Protection Act" (RRPPPA) through the Congressional House. Thornberry's bill would require the BLM conduct a survey to prove its case within a two-year window and also force the BLM to sell the land it claims ownership of to the deed holders at "no less than market value" once the issue is settled. The bill still needs approval in the Senate.
"The BLM has thrown doubt into the ownership of this land and so we are trying to remove that doubt to make it clear and make it clear for all time," said Congressman Thornberry.
While the bill successfully was able to make it out of the Congressional House, President Barack Obama stated that if it does pass the Senate he would veto the bill as a stand alone when it arrived on his desk. In the coming weeks Congressman Thornberry and Senator Cornyn are looking at ways to help pass the bill through the senate as an add on to a bigger bill.
To View the Red River Private Property Protection Act CLICK HERE!