Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced his support today of landowners and county officials in their lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which has continued in its attempt to take control of privately owned land along the Texas-Oklahoma border. Last week, Governor Abbott met with the landowners during a visit to Wichita Falls.
“I applaud the private property owners and county officials for standing up against the federal government’s brazen attempt to take private property from Texans,” said Governor Abbott. “I wholeheartedly support the landowners in their litigation against the Bureau of Land Management, and will be filing an amicus brief in support of their lawsuit. I fully expect the Constitutionally protected rights of landowners along the Red River to be upheld.”
On Oct. 16, 2015 Abbott sent a stern “cease and desist” letter to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Friday demanding the federal agency to close an “unconscionable land grab” that has been “privately owned and managed for decades.” Gov. Gregg Abbott criticized that the BLM did not have transparency throughout their practice.
Neil Kornze, Director of BLM was given a lesson on the United States Constitution by the letter he received from Abbott.
“Our Constitution — the same Constitution you have taken an oath to uphold — rests on the principle that governments are created to protect private property owners’ rights, not destroy them,” wrote Abbott. “This principle is enshrined in the Fifth Amendment of our founding document. The BLM should demonstrate that the federal government still respects private property rights and end this unconscionable land grab.”
When Gov. Abbott was the state attorney general he had “asked for clarification regarding the BLM’s claim of ownership of vast lands held by Texans along the Red River. My fellow Texans and I are still waiting for an answer. The BLM has yet to identify what land the federal government newly claims as its own. The BLM has yet to identify the legal basis for that claim. And the BLM has yet to identify the process by which Texans can protect their land and private property rights.”
“The landowners along the Red River have lived and labored on this land for generations. The BLM now inexplicably seeks to take control of thousands of acres of private land for undetermined recreational activities. Throughout the process, the BLM has minimized the landowners’ grave and legitimate concerns, while providing no clarity regarding the authority for taking the land in the first place.”
Citizens from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas first began hearing of the BLM land grabbing intentions about two years ago as the Obama’s Administrations started revising land management plans for those states. BLM officials, including Paul McGuire, a public affairs representative, who said land owners could file a “color of title” lawsuit. This lengthy and expensive process is intended to consider enhancements on federally owned property made over time by the landowners who improved the land.
“Explaining to landowners that the process is long and complex, that surveys will be done or that landowners will eventually be able to file a “color of title” lawsuit is neither solution nor solace,” Gov. Abbott asserted. “Instead, it is an illegal taking. These actions harm Texans now by clouding the title to the land their families have owned for generations.”
“As you well know, the BLM’s actions prevent landowners from borrowing against the land to finance business operations or selling the land to new owners looking to cultivate their own economic freedom. But the implications of your actions are not merely financial. In many cases, your actions threaten to take the very homes above these Texans’ heads.”
This is the third request and challenge by the Governor to U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Gov. Abbott has been particularly successful with many challenges against government overreach including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice and Homeland Security.