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Texas General Land Office Fights Against BLM Property Seizure Along Red River

Monday afternoon, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas has granted the General Land Office (GLO) a Motion to Intervene in the lawsuit challenging the federal government’s seizure of private property owners’, and Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF) land, along the Red River.

The GLO filed the intervention in the current case brought by local affected residents against the land grab by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Commissioner Bush said the GLO has the responsibility to defend Texas’ mineral rights and property rights.

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“As a matter of principle, our standing in this lawsuit is clear: the Land Office has the responsibility to defend Texas’ mineral rights on behalf of our school children,” said Commissioner Bush. “As your Land Commissioner, this is a duty that I take very seriously. Texas constitutionally dedicates this land to the Permanent School Fund and the mineral interests benefit the public school children across our great state. Today’s announcement by the U.S. District Court validates our assertion that we must stand up to the BLM’s continued attempts to unlawfully take privately and publicly owned lands. When it comes to property rights, don’t mess with Texas. Ever.”

 

Additional information provided by the Texas General Land Office, Office of Communications:

Background on BLM’s unconstitutional seizure

In 2009 the BLM published in the Federal Register an updated survey covering a small portion of the Red River through Clay and Wichita Counties in which it asserted federal ownership of land south of the southern gradient boundary of the Red River as defined by the Supreme Court in 1923. This land is located within Texas. In June of 2014, the BLM published a map indicating the intent that the same method used in the 2009 survey is applicable to a 116-mile stretch of the Red River through Clay, Wichita and Wilbarger Counties, including the GLO tract. The BLM’s action is an illegal taking of PSF owned land.

Standing in the case

The GLO is entitled to bring this suit as the PSF owns the mineral interests associated with approximately 78.2 acres situated in Wilbarger County, which the BLM is now asserting ownership of the surface and mineral interests. The GLO holds title to these mineral interests as the result of the State of Texas’ ownership of public lands dating back to Texas becoming part of the United States. The interest earned on the Permanent School Fund investments is distributed by the State Board of Education to every school district in Texas and, as such, this action affects every school child in Texas.

Background on PSF

In 1876, the Texas Constitution set aside half of Texas’ public lands to establish the Permanent School Fund to help finance public schools. After 1895, Texas law provided that the state must retain all minerals when land classified by the state as “mineral land” was sold. For sales of mineral-classified school land in Texas between September 1, 1895, and August 21, 1931, the state owns the minerals under those lands, which rights are dedicated to the Permanent School Fund.

Commissioner Bush and the GLO are responsible for managing these lands and mineral interests, including sales, trades, leases and improvements, as well as administration of contracts, mineral royalty rates, and other transactions. Commissioner Bush and the GLO are constitutionally charged with the obligation to maximize revenues from leasing public school lands and interests.

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