Along the Texas/Oklahoma line, farmers have been battling the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over the potential seizure of nearly 90,000 acres of Clive Bundy’s farming land. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, emanating true Texan attitude, replied to the BLM just as Texas did at the Alamo, “Come and Take It.”
In regards to the BLM’s legal ability to seize privately owned state land, Attorney General Abbott has questioned the motives that seem almost militaristic in nature. He fervently stated, “I am about ready to go to the Red River and raise a ‘Come and Take It’ flag.” Furthermore, Abbott acted upon the situation and penned a strongly worded message to Neil Kornze, director of the Bureau of Land Management, demanding answers to the questions he posed associated to the federal attempts to seize land from local farmers.
Abbott, as well as many other Texans, are deeply concerned about the notion that the BLM believes it has the authority under the federal government to come and take back land possessed and maintained by local landowners for generation. The situation in Texas is like the scenario in Nevada where rancher Cliven Bundy, the situation’s main protagonist, has been dealing with the potential federal seizure of his land. He told interviewers that his family has farmed his 90,000 acres since the 19th Century.
The BLM has hitherto failed to disclose the agency’s intentions or the legal justifications for its proposed actions. Although the BLM states it is rounding up cattle and horses from Bundy because his land is within the habitable zone of a tortoise that has been recently classified as endangered, that lone factor cannot be the BLM’s sole justification. Abbott stated that the BLM’s claims to land along the river threaten to disavow private property rights and undermine fundamental principles. He explained that decisions of such great magnitude cannot be made within an isolated bureaucratic agency.
Furthermore, Abbott, in his letter to the director of the BLM, cited Supreme Court jurisprudence in his argument – namely, Oklahoma v. Texas (1923). At the consummation of the case, the U.S. Supreme Court established that the geological shore line along the southern bank lining the Red River was the boundary amongst Texas and Oklahoma. Considering the area around the Red River is subject to natural geological transformation, in 1994, the Bureau of Land Management stated that the Red River was, “[a] unique situation.” They explained that a permanent state boundary cannot be defined unless the United States Congress established its permanence by law.
Not just Attorney General Greg Abbott is up in arms about the proposed actions, more and more Republicans are coming out vehemently opposing the BLM’s discourse. Texas Lieutenant General David Dewhurst stated that he is outraged by the advancements made on farmer Bundy’s land and that it “makes [his] blood boil.” Moreover, Texas Republican Representative Mac Thornberry’s office stated, according to supporting background materials, the BLM is reexamining its management plan for the lands as well as a 116-mile stretch of lands along the Red River. Possibilities have been discussed about opening the aforementioned stretches of land for “hunting, recreation, and management.”
Insofar as the BLM continues its mission to reclaim privately owned land from the local farmers and, thus, the state of Texas, one can only speculate about its motives. All in all, it may not only be for the conservation of a local tortoise population. As the local ranchers continue to fight against the demagoguery of President Obama’s Department of the Interior, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has even labelled the locals “domestic terrorists.”
As the rhetorical heat is turned up and politicians dig in their heels on the sides of either the federal government’s manifest destiny against the citizens of Texas or the local militia of farmers, flashbacks to the Texas Revolution will continue to surface. Nonetheless, Attorney General Greg Abbott’s charging statement to the Bureau of Land Management rings in true Texan fashion, “Come and Take It.”
By: Alex Lemieux