The Texas attorney general said that he is prepared to fight the Bureau of Land Management's "completely bizarre" attempt to appropriate state land along the border with Oklahoma.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican candidate for governor in Texas, sent a letter to the BLM
denouncing their intent to claim 90,000 acres along the Red River, which has provided a common border between Texas and Oklahoma since the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
But as the river's course changes so does the border, and numerous lawsuits between the states and the federal government have arisen over the years. The BLM says that federalizing the land will solve the disputes.
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Abbott told J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV Thursday that the federal government has no ownership claim on that land.
"For decades, if not for a century, this property has been defined by law as either belonging to Texans or to Oklahomans," Abbott said. "Now, suddenly out of nowhere the federal government is coming in and saying, 'Well, some of this property belongs to the federal government as opposed to either Texans or Oklahomans.' And we're saying, 'This is a federal land grab of land that belongs to private property owners in the state of Texas, and we are not going to put up with the federal government coming into the state of Texas and taking our property.'"
Abbott said that for some time, the BLM's intentions have been "cloaked in mystery." The first indication given was that the body was gathering information for surveying and study purposes, but over the last few months it became apparent the BLM was attempting to seize "private property that belongs to ranchers and farmers who have been working that area for decades and actually paying taxes on that property for decades."
"The BLM is acting like this is property or land that has always belonged to the federal government," Abbott said. "I've got to tell you for a fact, it has not always belonged to the federal government. As a matter of fact, it has never belonged to the federal government. Most of us are just stunned about this bold attempt by the federal government to come in and grab land that belongs to Texans. This violates the rule of law, this violates private property rights, this is a federal government run amuck, and we're just not going to put up with it."
According to Abbott, the BLM said in the mid-1990s that unless Congress passed a law defining the border, no one would know for sure which state owned the land. So Texas and Oklahoma formed a pact delineating the border, which Congress passed in 2000. Only after that, Abbott said, did the BLM intercede and try to claim ownership of some of that property.
Abbott believes that he has the timeline and law on his side to win this dispute in court.
"So where do we go from here? First, we fired off this letter to the BLM to get answers from them about exactly what they were up to, about exactly what property they are claiming as theirs, and certain other questions that we need to have answered," Abbott said.
"Second, based upon their answers to the questions, we could be heading down the pathway towards filing a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management to quiet title to get the federal courts to say the BLM has absolutely no right to take this property from private property owners in the state of Texas."
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