Land disputes can be complicated, but when you’re fighting the government, it might help to have some Washington politicians on your side. Texas land along the Red River has some Texas politicians concerned that a potential “land grab” may be in play from the Bureau of Land Management. Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott are trying to protect Texas citizens’ claims to 116 miles of land along the southern border of the Red River.
The BLM claims that the government has owned the land since the Louisiana purchase in 1803. A spokesperson for the agency also alleges that the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed their ownership of the land in the 1920’s. However, Texas citizens have allegedly been paying taxes on the land and developing it as their own for years.
The gray area in this real estate dispute is around the boundaries. Red River runs between the Oklahoma and Texas border, with the middle of the river designated as the state line, per the Supreme Court decision in the 1920’s. The land owned by the government was supposed to encompass anything “between” an area north of the invisible state line — in Oklahoma territory — to cut-out banks on the Texas side. However, with normal erosion and changes in the river over the years, the river’s location is altered, and it is now uncertain who owns what.
In 1986, a dispute between Oklahoma and Texas ranchers included one Texas man who had purchased 140 acres of land for $300,000. In his case, the government’s claim was upheld by the courts, and the man lost his land.
In regards to the Red River real estate, the BLM is in the process of planning use for the land. The planning process began last year. It is unclear whether any legal action will take place between the Texans and the BLM over the land at this point. A lot of complaints have been coming in according to an Oklahoma land office agent.
However, for a real estate dispute to take place, a citizen will have to file a legal action. Their attorney will need to be very thorough in researching and preparing their case. They will no doubt have to research the past documented land and river boundaries, as well as provide current boundaries and proof of ownership of the land.
Source:Dallas News, “Red River land dispute echoes Cliven Bundy fight in Nevada” Nick Swartsell, Apr. 30, 2014