By Judy Wade
After years of anger, frustration and disbelief, landowners along a stretch of Red River in North Central Texas are breathing a sigh of relief. In a settlement between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and seven Red River land owners, Clay, Wichita and Wilbarger Counties and the Clay County Sheriff, the BLM is releasing its false claim on more than 90,000 acres inside Texas along Red River. This is a major victory for landowners and private property rights.
The dispute began in 2009 when the BLM attempted to place survey markers on private property along a 116-mile stretch of the Red River, claiming it was federal property due to the movement of the river. The case became more urgent in 2014 when BLM announced it would implement a regional management plan to control the 90,000 acres.
Terms such as “accretion,” the gradual accumulation of sediment to the south, and “avulsion,” the rapid formation of a new river channel, as well as simple erosion were terms the federal agency used to support its claim.
In some places, the survey markers were more than a mile south of the actual water, in some cases claiming over half of the owner’s land. One farmer/rancher in Wilbarger County found his home was inside the BLM-claimed land. Many of these farmers and ranchers owned and worked the land at the heart of this matter for generations, had titles and deeds going back to the 1800s and paid taxes on the acreage for years.
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