Landowners Denied Protective Order From BLM

Landowners Denied Protective Order From BLM

WICHITA FALLS, TX - Federal Judge Reed O'Connor ruled that the Federal Government's Bureau of Land Management does have a right to perform inspections on portions of private property along portions of land along the Texas side of the Red River. 

The BLM have argued that near 90,000 acres along a 116 mile stretch of land along the northern gradient boundary of the state belongs to the federal government. The landowners, many of whom own deeds to their private property argue their terrain should stay private.

"Defendants will be permitted access to the northern boundary of Plaintiffs' land for inspection," Judge Reed O'Connor wrote.

The ruling comes after landowner's request to a protective order against the BLM for what they claim was in infringement on their right to freedom against illegal search and seizure. In the protective order landowners claimed the BLM had no reason to bring armed federal agents along during inspections, no reason to conduct future inspections on their private property, and if they were to step foot on their terrain that they sign waivers that would remove them of liabilities to possible injuries that occurred during inspections. 

"Defendants will not be required to execute any type of liability waiver or indemnity agreement with Plaintiffs," Judge O'Connor wrote.

The most recent ruling Judge O'Connor wrote that the BLM will be permitted to conduct surveys with no more than two armed federal agents present for security purposes. The landowners, in turn, will also be allowed to request the accompaniment of at least one Sheriff's deputy to oversee the entry and exit of the BLM during the inspections. 

"The Court finds no undue burden will result from permitting access to Plaintiffs' land for Defendants to inspect the disputed area and hereby DENIES Plaintiffs' motion for protective order, but imposes additional conditions on the inspection to address Plaintiffs' stated concerns," Judge O'Connor wrote. 

Here is a list of those additional conditions.

•    Defendants will have access to every individual Plaintiff's parcel of land for no more than three days. 

•    No inspection will be permitted on Saturday or Sunday. 

•    Every inspection must be conducted Monday to Friday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. 

•    Plaintiffs are not required to be present during the inspection but are certainly permitted to observe the inspection and access their land at all times, provided they do not interfere with Defendants' inspection. 

•    Defendants must provide at least three days' notice to each Plaintiff indicating the names and titles of all personnel who will be present for the inspection, every date an individual Plaintiff's land will be subject to inspection, and the exact time Defendants plan to arrive and depart from the parcel. 

•    All Defendants must show photo identification before entering Plaintiffs' land for inspection. 

•    Defendants are prohibited from damaging or disturbing the property in any manner, other than as needed to carry out the survey, and shall ensure any gate they open is securely fastened before leaving the gated area. 

•    Defendants are prohibited from damaging or disturbing any animals, hunting areas, feeders, or stands. 

•    Defendants are prohibited from smoking while on Plaintiffs' property. 

•    Defendants are prohibited from undertaking any excavation, soil sampling, or movement of the earth.

•    Defendants may not enter any building or disturb any structure on Plaintiffs' properties. 

Click HERE to read and view to ruling in full.

Jack Carney, Newschannel 6
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