Published: 1:44 pm, Wed. Sep. 6th, 2017Updated: 1:43 pm
Hudspeth County, Texas, officials have conceded that Texas road crews removed dirt, sand and gravel from State Trust Lands in Otero County without authorization from State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn but say they don’t believe payment is warranted.
In a letter dated Aug. 21, Hudspeth County Attorney C.R. “Kit” Bramblett wrote “both the road and the pit are definitely in New Mexico… we were certainly mistaken.” Nevertheless, Bramblett argues crews have maintained a stretch of NM 506 “for years thinking it was a Texas road,” and he therefore believes any repair work should serve as adequate compensation for the materials that were extracted from State Trust Lands.
However, the courts have long held that anyone removing materials from State Trust Lands must pay full value to the Trust beneficiary.
“I’m glad the county commissioners now know where the New Mexico-Texas line is and all mining activity will cease and desist; however, that doesn’t absolve them from compensating the State Land Office for the extracted minerals,” said Dunn. “Public schools are the sole beneficiary of those revenues and they need the money more than Texas bureaucrats.”
An investigation determined that 4,033 cubic yards of material was removed by Hudspeth County road crews, with a resulting value of $19,360. Dunn is demanding full payment by end of business Sept. 28; otherwise, the State Land Office will be forced to pursue other available remedies.
The site is located about four miles north of Dell City, Texas, on the north side of NM 506. Aerial photography indicates that mining activity appeared to commence between January 2012 and March 2014.