Home / Pressroom / Current Issues

Current Issues

INFO: Red River Land Dispute

Washington, April 22, 2014

Red River Land Dispute 

Many of you have expressed concern about the potential for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to claim Texas land along the Red River as public domain.

I agree, this issue is concerning and would be an overreach for the federal government and a violation of law. 

Below I’ve included background information and the latest updates to keep you informed about what we are doing to ensure Texas landowners keep the land that is rightfully theirs.

Please feel free to email me your thoughts and concerns here.  I always appreciate hearing from you.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is beginning the process to revise its Resource Management Plan (RMP) for lands managed by the BLM, which includes a 116 mile stretch of the Red River on the border between Texas and Oklahoma in Wilbarger, Wichita, and Clay counties. 

At a public meeting in Wichita Falls, Texas, BLM stated there is an estimated 90,000 acres of land along the 116 mile stretch of the Red River that may be considered public domain.  Issues discussed for this land included open public access for hunting, recreation, and management.

Many landowners and other public officials have expressed concerns over any BLM action that would result in the loss of private land to the federal government and the potential use of eminent domain to create public access points to the river.

Texas/Oklahoma Border:
A large portion of the Texas/Oklahoma border has historically been the Red River going back to the southern limit of the Louisiana Purchase. The Supreme Court construed the boundary to be the “gradient boundary line along the south bank” in the 1920s.

On October 10, 2000, H.J. Res. 72 was signed into law that ratifies the Red River Boundary Compact agreed to by Texas and Oklahoma.  This compact sets the state boundary as the vegetation line on the south bank of the Red River, except for the Lake Texoma area where the boundary is established pursuant to procedures provided for in the compact.  

Recent Actions:

  • BLM hosted a public meeting in Wichita Falls to discuss the issue.  However, many residents felt the event was poorly advertised

  • I submitted comments to BLM expressing opposition to any expansion of control or management from BLM over lands on the Texas side of the border (see attachments below).

  • I met with BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis to discuss the issue and convey concerns over opening up the river to public access.

  • I am currently working with the appropriate committees in the Congress to ensure that the boundary is not changed, and that private property rights are protected 

1. Public Comments Submitted by Congressman Mac Thornberry

2. BLM Response to Congressman Mac Thornberry

3. BLM Map of Red River Management Area