The Brief: The Texas-BLM Conflict Explained

Map of disputed 116-miles stretch of the Red River.
Map of disputed 116-miles stretch of the Red River.

The Big Conversation

As Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson prepare to meet later today with Tommy Henderson, the man who has become the face of the increasingly politicized spat between Texas and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Tribune's Jim Malewitz has an exhaustive background story on the seeds of the conflict. Here are some excerpts:

Henderson, who is no fan of the BLM, said he’s happy with the attention on the issue. And because of his role in the dispute’s legal history, he has become a point man for those looking to clear up the confusion. He wants more Texas officials to first grasp the two centuries of litigation and changing geography rooted in the dispute. ... "I think it’s very difficult to fully understand it,” he said. “To know how we got here, we kind of got to know where we’ve been.”

...

BLM officials say they understand local residents’ concerns. But, referencing a series of court opinions, the agency says the land in question belongs neither to Texas nor Oklahoma, regardless of who has used it. The lands "were at no time held in private ownership," said Paul McGuire, an agency spokesman. He noted that the agency was not a party in any of the past litigation.

...

In 2000, Congress ratified the Red River Boundary Compact, which set the boundary as the vegetation line along the south bank of the Red River. Texas officials including [Greg] Abbott have asked the BLM why it doesn’t consider that as the property line. The answer is because the compact only set jurisdictional and political boundaries and had no impact on property lines. “I think that they don’t truly, totally understand everything that’s happening and what has happened,” said Henderson, who was appointed to the Texas commission that hashed out the compact, after reading Abbott’s initial news release on the issue.

The Day Ahead

•    Early voting in the special election to fill the southeast Texas Senate seat vacated by Tommy Williams begins. Also, it is the final day to register to vote for the May 27 primary runoff election

•    GOP gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott is in Austin to deliver remarks at 7:30 a.m. at the Texas State Prayer Breakfast.

•    Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson meet at 2 p.m. at the Red River Bridge in Byers with Texas landowner Tommy Henderson, who is part of a dispute with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over who owns a stretch of land near the Red River at the border with Oklahoma.

•    The House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Extension on three interim charges. (agenda)

Today in the Trib

Worker's Benefits Cut Off Two Decades Later: "Laws set up to protect Texans who get hurt on the job are supposed to ensure they get lifetime medical care for their injuries. But critics of the system say sometimes that promise gets cut short."

Newcomer Faces Underdog Hoping for a Political Comeback: "César Blanco, an El Paso native and former congressional staffer, came close to beating his Democratic primary opponents outright. The newcomer faces feisty veteran Norma Chávez in the runoff."

New Law Limits Standardized Tests, but Not Prep Work: "House Bill 5, which reduced standardized testing in public high schools, also included a provision aimed at easing the pressure of high-stakes exams for students in lower grades. But it may not be having the intended effect."

Analysis: Breaking Up is Hard to Do: "Texas lawmakers are deciding whether to impeach a University of Texas regent — something they've never done before. Are they opening a Pandora's Box?"

Must-Read

Toyota preparing to move U.S. sales headquarters to West Plano, sources say, The Dallas Morning News

Oil field deaths rose sharply from 2008 to 2012, Houston Chronicle

The casino that isn't: the Tigua 'entertainment center', San Antonio Express-News

Sanchez: Challenging Davis to a Valley debate, McAllen Monitor

Michael Quinn Sullivan ethics case should proceed in state court, not federal court, judge says, Austin American-Statesman

Dark money takes root in Texas, San Antonio Express-News

Gay Rights Push Shifts Its Focus South and West, The New York Times

Quote to Note

"It was a ‘glad to meet you’ kind of thing, and if he in the end comes back to New Hampshire, he knows he has a place he can stop by for a free cup of coffee."

— Former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu on his meeting with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, over the weekend. It was the second visit this month by potential 2016 presidential candidate Cruz to the Granite State, which holds the first presidential primary in the nation.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Panel Discussion on Keeping the Lights On in Texas at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, 4/29

•    The Texas Tribune Festival On the Road presents a one-day symposium on STEM Education at UT-Dallas, 5/5

•    A Conversation With Rep. Dan Branch, Candidate for Attorney General at the Austin Club, 5/8

•    A Conversation With U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

•    A Conversation With Steve Patterson, UT Men's Athletic Director at the Austin Club, 5/15

•    A Conversation With Sen. Glenn Hegar, Candidate for State Comptroller at the Austin Club, 5/29

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21