Local Leaders Discuss Proposed BLM Legislation

- Thirteenth District Congressman Mac Thornberry says he, and state and local leaders, wants to solve the Red River border confusion once and for all, which Thornberry says started in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase.

"What exactly the south bank is is what the courts have worked on, what Congress has worked on, that's what we need to get decided definitively once and for all so this is no longer an issue," he says.

District 68 Representative Drew Springer says, "The input that we had from our constituents is that they're looking for an answer to this in their period of time. They're not looking to have a clouded title to where there's a survey, to where it takes five to 10 years to know whether they can sell or buy land, whether they can get financing."

That's why Thornberry introduced the Red River Private Property Protection Act, which would require the BLM to allow a landowner to have rights to the land if he or she has state or county title and deeds that prove they fully own the land.

It's a bill local leaders hope passes to protect the 170 Wilbarger, Wichita, and Clay County landowners who could potentially be stripped of land or see restrictions to use of the land.

"I've sent a copy of this legislation to all the landowners asking for their feedback," Thornberry says. "One of the things we talked about today is we need to get a number of lawyers to look at it to make sure it's going to hold up 50 years from now. I'm not saying this is the last answer, but we're moving ahead."

So far, Thornberry hasn't received a response about his proposed legislation from the BLM.

"I don't think they're really interested in managing a narrow strip of sand down the river bed, and so I'm hopeful we can find a way that's good for them, good for us, good for the landowners, and good for the counties."

Thornberry has asked the US House Resources Committee, which oversees the BLM, to host a hearing about the proposed legislation, and he hopes that will happen later this month.

US Senators Cornyn and Cruz have introduced the same bill in the Senate.

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