Feds Tell Texas Ranchers The Government Owns Their Land Despite Owners Having Deeds, Paying Property Taxes On The Land

A group of Texas ranchers are furious after representatives from the federal Bureau of Land Management made claims that their land doesn't actually belong to the ranchers, but rather it belonged to the federal government. The federal officials claim that despite each rancher having a deed for their property and having paid property taxes on the land each year, the land should never have been sold, as it is actually federal land. However, at least one rancher, Ken Aderholt, isn't giving up his property without a fight. Aderholt notes that his family has lived and raised cattle on the land for the past 70 years, even building a home on the property that the government now claims it owns.

Red River Valley
Ranchers in Texas and Oklahoma fear that the federal government may confiscate land used to raise cattle due to re-defined federal land boundaries along the Red River. (Image Credit: Red River Valley Tourist Information)

The Blaze reports that rancher Ken Aderholt received a phone call from a federal Bureau of Land Management representative in early 2014 that sent shivers down his spine. The representative claimed that 625 acres of Aderholt's property actually belonged to the federal government. The representative said the discovery was made when the government began "redefining" boundary lines along the Red River, which runs along the border between Oklahoma and Texas. Aderholt notes that by redefining the boundary to half-a-mile inland from the river, it significantly affects the size of his property and even his home.

"After redefining the boundary to a half mile inland from the river, the BLM has claimed up to 625 of his property's 1,250 acres."

When Aderholt pointed out to the BLM rep that his home sat on some of the acreages that the federal government now claims it owns, the representative told him, "You have reason to be concerned."

Aderholt pointed out that he has a deed in hand that shows he is the owner of the property the federal government is claiming they actually own, but the representative says that the State of Texas should never have produced that deed as the land was federal land.

"The BLM is saying we should have never had a deed to it. That Texas should have never produced that deed."

The angry rancher says he has also been paying property taxes on the full acreage and that, in the past, it was determined that the federal government only owned a tiny "sliver" of land along the river in the gradient boundary. Now, however, the federal government is claiming that the cutoff line should really be half-a-mile inland.

Red River
Map of the Red River as it runs along the Oklahoma-Texas border. (Image Credit: Red River Valley Info)

According to KAUZ, the situation only gets worse, as Aderholt says the government has noted that they could take the property from him legally. The government has yet to say what they will do with the land, but it was noted it may be used for public bird watching, horseback riding, or it could even be condemned. It was noted that the BLM could lease the land back to Aderholt but would have no obligation to do so and could even lease it to someone else entirely.

Aderholt has obtained an attorney and is hoping to apply for "color of title," which "takes into consideration improvements land owners make on acreage owned by the federal government as a way of possibly holding on to the land."

What do you think about the federal Bureau of Land Management staking claim to land that has been owned by Texas ranchers for over 70 years? Should the BLM take into consideration that the land owners have deeds handed out by the State of Texas and that they have been paying property taxes on the land over the years?

[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Tom Pennington]