Congressman Thornberry's Bill Could Stop Red River Land Grab

A bill which may relieve concerns of property owners along the Red River from a possible takeover of land or new restrictions on land use is on the first leg of its way through congress.

A Texoma landowner joined 13th District Congressman Mac Thornberry in support of the bill before the House Resources Committee in Washington.

Representative Thornberry says the hearing was a good start but they are still a long way from finding a compromise with the Bureau of Land Management on how to deal with the disputed land.

The BLM is discussing rights or use restrictions of around 45,000 acres of land along the Red River in Texas.

Congressman Thornberry's bill would give private property owners primary rights to that land.

Thornberry says the BLM showed interest in working with landowners to find a solution during the committee hearing but the BLM's options for compromise don't seem like an option at all to landowners.

“One of them was to sell the land to landowners and other members of the committee say that's ridiculous they've already bought it, they're paying taxes on it,” says Congressman Thornberry.

One of the Texoma landowners testifying says he thinks there is only one fair option.

“The boundary compact commission that set the boundary, it's something that that we can recognize as the vegetation line along the river is something that probably everyone needs to agree to,” says Pat Canan.

Canan says he feels a little better after the hearing but is still hoping for a quick decision so he can have peace of mind.

“There's a lot of landowners along the river that are being affected, but this is a question about private property,” says Canan.

Thornberry says there are still many steps that need to be taken before a real solution can be found.

“The next step would be for the Resources Committee to actually vote on the bill, they pass it, it would go out to the full House for a vote, then the House would have to vote on it, it would have to be brought to the Senate and then it'd have to get to the president,” says Congressman Thornberry.

BLM officials say they want to study the issues and make a decision by 2018 but Thornberry says landowners should not have to wait that long.

He hopes the bill could be voted on as early as September.

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