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Texas farmer battles BLM for three decades to win back his own land... finally prevails!


Bureau of Land Management

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(NaturalNews) It took three decades, but a Texas farmer has finally prevailed in a long-running legal battle with a federal agency.

As reported by Breitbart Texas, land owned by Tommy Henderson of Henrietta was taken from him 30 years ago by a court and given to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the Department of the Interior. But in recent days, the government turned the land – which had been in his family since 1904 – back over to him, and now he hopes his example will prove advantageous for other Red River land owners who are currently pushing back against BLM efforts to take their property, 90,000 acres of which are in play.

As Breitbart Texas further reported:

In a federal court decision in 1984, a judge stripped Henderson of ownership of a portion of his land located along the Red River in Texas. The Red River is Texas' northern border with Oklahoma. Some of that land was given to the BLM and a small section was awarded to an Oklahoma man who brought the lawsuit. The Oklahoma rancher was attempting to claim land because of boundary changes due to erosion and evulsion.

In April 2014, Breitbart Texas reported that the BLM planned to hold meetings on what to do with the land along the river that the agency claimed belonged to the government.

Texas officials, including then-Attorney General (now Governor) Greg Abbott, then-Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, then-General Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and state Sen. Craig Estes (R-Witchita Falls), joined with U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both of Texas, and with U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) in an attempt to convince the BLM to return the land back to the Texans who they have owned it and, in some cases, for many generations. At the time, then-Governor Rick Perry, now a declared GOP presidential contender, said "the federal government already owns too much land."

"A long time coming"

The recent inking of a U.S. government patent giving the land back to Henderson, along with his statutorily-required payment of $1.25 per acre, made the land transfer complete and finalized the effort begun more than a year ago – with no strings attached.

"It has been a long time coming," Henderson told Breitbart Texas in a phone interview. "The BLM brought me the patent and said this was the right thing to do, finally."

What finally brought Henderson's effort to fruition was his pursuit of his land's return under "color of title" law, which he began a number of years ago.

Tens of thousands more acres in play

"During the planning meetings officials said 'color of title' was a process whereby some landowners might be able to reclaim the land the BLM said they owned," Henderson said. But over the years, the people who were initially working with Henderson moved on and much of his original paperwork got lost in the shuffle.

"The Color-of-Title Act is a useful tool for addressing situations where an individual appears to hold title to public land," BLM spokesman Paul McGuire wrote, in response to an inquiry from Breitbart Texas. "If certain criteria are met, an applicant can obtain a patent conveying clear title to the lands by paying a fair and reasonable price that reflects current market value, discounted for taxes paid and any improvements to the land.

"Mr. Henderson's application met the requirements of the Act. Others with land adjoining the federal corridor along the Red River may be in a similar situation, and we stand ready to review any valid applications," McGuire said.

Nevertheless, tens of thousands of acres – in Texas' Red River basin alone – remain in play. Other landowners are in danger of losing their property to a government agency that already "manages" millions of acres around the country, most of it in Western states.

Sources:

http://www.breitbart.com

http://www.texastribune.org

http://www.naturalnews.com

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