Texas AG Abbott Demands Real Answers From BLM About Red River Land Grab
by Bob Price on August 14, 2014 at 11:02 AM
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott responded to the Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) demanding real answers to his previous questions about the potential land grab along the Red River border between Texas and Oklahoma. On April 22, General Abbott told Breitbart Texas he was sending a letter to BLM Director Neil Kornze demanding answers about the land grab reported the day before by this writer. On June 19, Kornze responded to the letter without specifically answering any of Abbotts specific questions.
Abbott wrote Kornze once again to demand answers to his specific questions. In a press release obtained by Breitbart Texas, Abbott indicated this is the second time he has been forced to write the BLM director to get his questions addressed. The response from the first letter “failed to answer substantitive legal questions” about the BLM’s claims to the land owned by private citizens along the Red River.
In the letter, Abbott reminded the Director about the testimony by Mr. Pat Canan, a Texas landowner who owns property now under siege by the BLM. Canan testified to a U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources’s Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations. During his testimony Canan said the land now being claimed by the BLM “is the very same land that was deeded by the State of Texas in 1858.” Canan and his family have paid taxes on this land for generations.
“While your June 19 letter to me indicated that you ‘would like to reiterate the BLM’s commitment to maintaining…relationships with the citizens, industry, and other interested groups…’ the BLM’s actions to this point do not match your rhetoric,” Abbott wrote in his letter to Kornze. “Frankly, the BLM appears to be more concerned with expanding its property holdings—at the expense of private landowners—than it does with doing the right thing and recognizing the rights of generations of Texas families who have owned, cultivated, and paid taxes on this land.”
Abbott pointed out the evasiveness of Kornzes answers to Abbott’s original request for information. “First, in a 1994 Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (RMP/EIS) for land along the Red River, the BLM stated that it could not determine how much land along the Red River belonged to the federal government until the border dispute between Texas and Oklahoma was resolved,” Abbott wrote. “As you know, that dispute was resolved by the Red River Boundary Compact in 2000. Yet now, your June 19 letter states that the Compact ‘did not change the United States’ existing interests in any public domain lands along the Red River.’ Thus, while the BLM previously stated that the Texas-Oklahoma border dispute necessarily impacted land ownership, you now claim that the ratification of the Red River Compact only addressed the state line.”
The AG further complained that Kornze’s letter failed to address the legal basis for the BLM’s Claim to land along the Red River and he cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision from the 1920s, claiming that Kornze seemed to ignore the decision. Abbott demanded that the BLM prove the movement of the Red River over the last 200 years has changed the property ownership of the land.
Abbott further demanded that Kornze spell out the legal process owed to Texas Landowners before taking land they have owned for generations. The BLM response letter from June stated the “BLM will determine the uses and extent of these public lands through the current public planning process and any necessary surveys.” Abbott responded stating, “To the extent such vague words describe any process, they suggest only that landowners must sit patiently by as BLM determines—inside a bureaucratic black box with no apparent meaningful due process—how much of their land supposedly belongs to the federal government.”
“Texas landowners deserve better,” Abbott concluded, “and they deserve better from their federal government agencies and officials. Hardworking Texans have been cultivating, improving, and paying taxes on this land for generations. These landowners should not be relegated to bystander status only to find out years from now that BLM plans to take their land. At that point, their last resort may be only a time-consuming and expensive lawsuit. In the event litigation is required, the State of Texas stands ready to join the legal fight and will take all necessary legal action to defend the rights of Texas landowners.” Abbott and Texas landowners along the Red River must once again await Kornze’s response.