Last month, Collin County Judge Keith Self received what in normal times would be an unremarkable letter from the Bureau of Land Management.
The agency's Oklahoma office, the letter explains, is beginning an environmental impact study on about 40,000 acres in and around Lake Lavon. It's part of a larger, multi-state review, done in collaboration with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, of land and mineral deposits.
The BLM, "[i]n the spirit of government to government consultation and cooperation," then asks the Self and Collin County Commissioners Court to become a "Cooperating Agency" to ease the feds' planning efforts.
Not everyone in Collin County is so sure they want to cooperate with the federal government, especially the newly reviled BLM.
The Allen American's Bill Conrad was at Monday's commissioners court meeting, where residents and public officials voiced their suspicions that the BLM was preparing for a land grab, or worse:
Several of the 10 speakers at Monday's meeting mentioned that they felt this was part of the Obama administration's push to enact the policies of Agenda 21, a non-binding United Nations plan developed in 1993 dealing with sustainable development. They noted that since private property rights could be seen as an obstacle to the Agenda 21 movement, the seizure of property could be the first step toward its implementation. Another speaker mentioned that they were worried that the Bureau of Indian Affairs' involvement could lead to Native American casinos and toll roads coming to the county.
One of the speakers, Michael Openshaw, said he is worried about what the study could find and what impact it might have on county residents.
"I am worried they may find some [animal] and decide that lowering the water of Lake Lavon would be dangerous to [the animal], and they cut us off from the water," he said.
Commissioner Mark Reid heard them loud and clear.
"I have gone back and forth on this all week," he said. "I have grave concerns that we are being railroaded, that they will somehow use our participation as an excuse to justify whatever they want to do."
Reid wound up being the only no vote, but not by a lot.
"I think the question is how do we best protect our county?" Self mused. "There is no doubt that there is a federal war on Texas."
In this case, he decided, the best way to fight it is by sitting down with the federal government so landowners at least have a say in the process.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.
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