Legal clouds still hang over the Red River

By Russell Boening

A lawsuit filed recently on behalf of landowners and county officials by the Texas Public Policy Foundation is the latest attempt to recover private property claimed by the federal government along the Texas-Oklahoma border. The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Wilbarger County farmer and rancher Ken Aderholt.

Just a few weeks ago, I visited the Red River area where the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) still claims as many as 30,000 acres of family farms, homes and other private property. I received briefings on the situation as I toured the area.

When Clay County farmer and rancher Tommy Henderson lost his property to the BLM more than three decades ago, it was because a federal judge made a very bad decision.

Over the last two years, significant progress has been made to address the injustice. Tommy Henderson got his land back.

BLM will still not admit that it does not own the farms and ranches where the landowners have deeds, raised crops for generations and where family farms and homes exist.

The recent lawsuit is important. All efforts to resolve this issue and protect the rights of landowners must be pursued. But a legislative solution in which the federal government backs off the ridiculous notion that they own
Aderholt’s farm and ranch is the correct course. This is the best way to undo a wrong and make it right.

Texas Congressman Mac Thornberry has a bill in Congress to fix this deplorable situation once and for all. The measure has been approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources. Let’s hope the full House votes soon on the bill and pushes it forward to the U.S. Senate. It’s time to get this done.

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