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Legal fight over Fronton Island continues

Legal fight over Fronton Island continues
2 weeks 1 day 13 minutes ago Tuesday, May 14 2024 May 14, 2024 May 14, 2024 9:18 PM May 14, 2024 in News - Local

The state of Texas continues battling the federal government over an island in Starr County.

Texas officials declared Fronton Island — located in the middle of the Rio Grande near the city of Roma — state property and began patrolling it as part of Operation Lone Star.

READ ABOUT THE INITIAL OPERATIONS HERE 

“We believe we are firmly in the right,” Texas General Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham said, adding that their maps and treaties allow them to claim the island and patrol it as they have since October 2023.

On April 30, the International Boundary and Water Commission sent the Texas GLO a 19-page-long letter saying the 170-acre property is actually federal land, and that the work done on the island to clear it could have environmental consequences.

Texas cleared out the vegetation on the island and leveled it, They've also placed dirt in the northern part of the river so law enforcement could drive onto the island, something the IBWC says could impact the river's flow. 

READ MORE: Federal government claims ownership of Fronton Island

“We have looked into flow disruptions,” Buckingham said. “When the military department came in they built land bridges, and we're in the process of fixing that."

Although Texas is getting rid of the bridges to comply, they don't think the argument holds any weight.

“Right now we think the claims of river diversion are again malicious,” Buckingham said. “We plan on seeing them in court, and we'll fight them tooth and nail.”

Local environmental advocate Jim Chapman said he is worried about wildlife there. 

“Anytime you put things like buoys or razor wire in the water, it's going to slow flow,” Chapman said. “You have a lot of animals crossing the river. Because of what's on the Mexican side of the river, you're very close to an outcropping of the Sierra Madre."

Chapman said he's hoping the island returns to the hands of the federal government, and to the way it was before — even if it means litigation. 

“I would like to see a revegetation effort,” Chapman said. “I would hope the U.S. state department would file a lawsuit."

The IBWC is giving Texas 30 days from the letter's submission on April 30 to send them evidence supporting their claim that Texas owns the land. 

Watch the video above for the full story.   

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