Jun 26 2014

S. 2537

Official Short: Red River Private Property Protection Act

Long Title: A bill to provide legal certainty to property owners along the Red River in Texas, and for other purposes.

Sponsors: Mr. Cornyn and Mr. Cruz


  • June 26, 2014.--Referred to Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.


Red River Private Property Protection Act (Introduced in Senate - IS)

S 2537 IS

2d Session
S. 2537

To provide legal certainty to property owners along the Red River in Texas, and for other purposes.

June 26, 2014

Mr. CORNYN (for himself and Mr. CRUZ) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


To provide legal certainty to property owners along the Red River in Texas, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the `Red River Private Property Protection Act'.


    Congress finds as follows:
      (1) In 1923, the Supreme Court found the border between Texas and Oklahoma to be: `the water-washed and relatively permanent elevation or acclivity at the outer line of the river bed which separates the bed from the adjacent upland, whether valley or hill, and serves to confine the waters within the bed and to preserve the course of the river, and that the boundary intended is on and along the bank at the average or mean level attained by the waters in the periods when they reach and wash the bank without overflowing it. When we speak of the bed, we include all of the area which is kept practically bare of vegetation by the wash of the waters of the river from year to year in their onward course, although parts of it are left dry for months at a time, and we exclude the lateral valleys, which have the characteristics of relatively fast land and usually are covered by upland grasses and vegetation, although temporarily overflowed in exceptional instances when the river is at flood.'.
      (2) This would become known as the `gradient boundary'.
      (3) This decision makes clear that, absent water that is physically touching the bank, the high bluff or `ancient bank' along the southern edge of the Red River is not the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma.
      (4) In 2000, Public Law 106-288 ratified the Red River Boundary Compact agreed to and signed into State law by Texas and Oklahoma that sets the boundary between the States to be the vegetation line on the south bank of the Red River, except for the Texoma area where the boundary is established pursuant to procedures provided for in the Compact.
      (5) Therefore, the Bureau of Land Management should have no claim to land that is either south of the `gradient boundary' established by the Supreme Court or south of the vegetation line on the southern bank of the Red River pursuant to Public Law 106-288 whereby landowners have proof of their right, title, and interest to the land and have been paying property taxes accordingly.


    (a) In General- The Secretary shall relinquish and shall transfer by quit claim deed all right, title, and interest of the United States in and to Red River lands to any claimant who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Secretary that official county or State records indicate that the claimant holds all right, title, and interest to those lands.
    (b) Public Notification- The Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register and on official and appropriate Web sites the process to receive written and/or electronic submissions of the documents required under subsection (a). The Secretary shall treat all proper notifications received from the claimant as fulfilling the satisfaction requirements under subsection (a).
    (c) Standard of Approval- The Secretary shall accept all official county and State records as filed in the county on the date of submission proving right, title, and interest.
    (d) Time Period for Approval or Disapproval of Request- The Secretary shall approve or disapprove a request for a quit claim deed under subsection (a) not later than 120 days after the date on which the written request is received by the Secretary. If the Secretary fails to approve or disapprove such a request by the end of such 120-day period, the request shall be deemed to be approved.


    The Secretary shall ensure that no parcels of Red River lands are treated as Federal land for the purpose of any resource management plan until the Secretary has ensured that such parcels are not subject to transfer under section 3.


    For the purposes of this Act--
      (1) the term `Red River lands' means lands along the approximately 539-mile stretch of the Red River between the States of Texas and Oklahoma; and
      (2) the term `Secretary' means the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of Bureau of Land Management.