Published April 23, 2014
Texas Gov. Rick Perry joined his state’s top attorney on Wednesday in blasting the federal Bureau of Land Management over concerns that it may be looking at laying claim to thousands of acres of property in northern Texas.
“The federal government already owns too much land,” Perry told Fox News.
At issue are thousands of acres of land on the Texas side of the Red River, along the border between Texas and Oklahoma. Officials recently have raised concern that the BLM might be looking at claiming 90,000 acres of land as part of the public domain.
On Tuesday, state Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running to replace Perry, raised the issue in a letter to the BLM director. He also told Breitbart.com he’s ready to “go to the Red River and raise a ‘Come and Take It’ flag to tell the feds to stay out of Texas.”
Abbott reiterated his comments Wednesday night on “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”
“At a minimum, (the federal government is) overreaching, trying to grab land that belongs to Texans, or worse, they are violating due process rights by just claiming that this land suddenly belongs to the federal government, swiping it away from our Texans,” said Abbott, who threatened court action. “This is just the latest symptom of what seems to be a federal government run amok that is messing in states’ rights and now messing in private property rights.”
Perry told Fox News he stands with Abbott on this issue.
“It’s not a dare, it’s a promise that we’re going to stand up for private property rights in the state of Texas,” Perry said, calling the federal government “out of control.”
The federal government is currently in a preliminary review phase, and any action on the land would be years away.
The BLM argues that any land in question was long ago determined to be public property anyway.
“The BLM is categorically not expanding Federal holdings along the Red River,” a BLM spokeswoman said in a written statement on Tuesday.
The spokeswoman referred to a 140-acre plot “determined to be public land in 1986” – an apparent reference to a 1986 federal court case. Texas landowner Tommy Henderson lost 140 acres to BLM in that case, and he claims the agency is now using that decision as precedent to pursue more property.
Perry claimed private property would be affected here, and questioned the BLM’s position.
“Is the federal government going to come back in and say, ‘you know what, Mexico used to own the state of Texas so let’s have a conversation of where the rightful ownership of this is’?” he said.
The debate comes on the heels of a tense standoff earlier this month in Nevada, after BLM tried to round up cattle owned by rancher Cliven Bundy – the product of a long-running dispute over unpaid grazing fees. Hundreds of states’ rights supporters, some of them armed, showed up to protest, and BLM back off citing safety concerns.
In the Texas matter, the Supreme Court incorporated the Red River as part of the border with Oklahoma nearly a century ago.
It’s unclear how seriously BLM might be looking at laying claim to additional boundary land.
BLM said it is merely in the “initial stages of developing options for management of public lands,” as part of a “transparent process with several opportunities for public input.”