While the Bundy Ranch standoff is still fresh in the minds of millions of Americans, the Bureau of Land Management is now reportedly focused on its next target: 90,000 acres of land along the Texas’ northern border.
According to former State Representative Sid Miller, the potential federal land grab is rooted in a 1986 lawsuit filed when the BLM wanted to take a substantial amount of property from a Texan named Tommy Henderson. Henderson ultimately lost in court despite the fact that his family had owned the land for decades.
“The Bureau of Land Management took 140 acres of his property and didn’t pay him one cent,” Miller explained. That court case, he explained, will likely serve as the basis for the BLM’s expected claim to an area hundreds of times larger than Henderson’s.
Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry is representing those ranchers who would be affected by the federal seizure. He explained the BLM is using legislation from more than 200 years ago in an effort to prove the U.S. government owns the property.
The same argument – i.e., Texas had no right to sell the property that became federal land upon the Louisiana Purchase of 1802 – was used successfully to take Henderson’s land, Thornberry noted.
The disputed property, which runs along the Texas-Oklahoma boundary, was the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling more than a century later. The result, however, was that boundaries would be established by driving wooden stakes into the ground. Those landmarks have since eroded.
A subsequent move between the two states to set permanent boundaries along the Red River has yet to be ratified by the U.S. Congress.
Some state authorities still dispute the demarcation lines. Instead of helping settle the issue in an equitable manner for both states, the BLM would apparently rather seize the property by force.
The agency is planning to engage in a land-use study of 263 million acres of land across Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas in an effort to determine which state – or federal agency – owns which areas.
Photo credit: Marines (Flickr)