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Trinity Standard - Local News

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Water Rights and Other Questions Discussed By Real Estate Center Staff
Trinity Standard -

TRINITY — Trinity County Forest Landowners Association members heard Judon Fambrough of the Texas A&M Real Estate Center discuss water rights and other questions at their meeting on Friday, Jan. 24, at Mickey's House in Trinity. The Real Estate Center was established in 1970 and has no state support to pay costs. It is funded through a portion of the fees for transacting real estate in Texas. The Real Estate Center website is found at www.ReCenter.tamu.edu under which topics of publications are available. The Center provides legal perspectives about issues affecting real estate and helps anyone know their legal rights and how to protect themselves. Judon discussed a number of available articles of interest to landowners including: understanding the condemnation process for pipeline construction, hints on negotiating oil and gas leases, Texas easements, deer leases, wills, and many other topics. Anyone can print these articles found on the website which provide timely guidance on legal handling of real estate issues. When an oil and gas lease is established, if the company has a lease they can enter and explore production of minerals on the surface and all the surfaces owned by surface owner, including groundwater. They do not have to clean up the land by law but usually agree to in the lease. If the mineral owner is different than the surface owner, the leasee can use the surface however they want to. Texas courts have allowed an oil and gas company that drills a well to take oil from neighbors but not to ruin their water. Water rights were discussed starting with the determination that water in a stream bed is owned by the state as well as all minerals beneath it and the public has the right to move up and down the streambed without permission from the landowner. The law is that no water is required but the stream bed must be 30 feet wide from the mouth up, but in fact less than 30 feet wide can be used in natural and ordinary conditions as a highway for commerce. The gradient boundary line is halfway up the bank between the top to the lower level of water. A private lake is open to anyone if they can enter from a stream and stay in the boat, but they trespass if they get above the gradient boundary line. A private person cannot obstruct a public waterway. If there are any creeks or gullies on the property, then you do not own all the minerals or all the land. The right of portage says if you have a barrier, you have a right to go up and around it. Judon Fambrough advised all of us to use the Real Estate Center articles to find out about legal requirements as real estate transactions are being considered. A panel of TCFLA members shared forest management plans and how using a plan assists the landowner with good management in the coming year. The beginning of a new year is a time to reflect on what has happened during the year, how your woods were affected, and how your goals have changed. John McRae of F&W Forestry Services. a TCFLA member, recommended using the outline of the management plan developed by the Tree Farm System. A Tree Farm is at least 10 acres of forestland under management with an implemented plan that accounts for water quality, wildlife habitat and soil conservation, as well as production of forest products. By seeking expert advice on sustainable forestry practices, Tree Farmers make good decisions for their land that will sustain their forest for generations to come. The Tree Farm System is a certification system that assures buyers that this wood was grown by someone who followed management policies that led to good outcomes and healthy trees, and sold as a part of the timber business conducted by the tree farmer. Charles Smither, TCFLA member, spoke as a landowner about the actions he is planning to take on his family tree farm this year. They have several small tracts that all are family holdings. He said that their mulching of property lines had been a benefit and they felt it was a good management activity. He advised to consider tax implications of timber sales and timing of receipts of the sales. The Trinity County Forest Landowners Association is one of the County Forest Landowners Associations coordinated by the Texas Forestry Association which in 2014 is celebrating its 100th Goodrich Jones, a banker and leader of forestry conservation, to gain public support for a State Department of Forestry. The Department of Forestry was created by law in 1915 and later became the Texas Forest Service. The Texas Forestry Association includes woodland owners, tree farmers, industrialists, professional foresters, and concerned citizens. Under such leaders as Jones, who served as president in 1914 – 1921, the TFA has been the Voice of Forestry in Texas, urging expansion, protection, proper management and wise use of all forests and related resources. TCFLA voted to pay registration fee for two Trinity County teachers to attend the Teachers Conservation Institute sponsored by the Texas Forestry Association in the summer of 2014. Applications are being accepted statewide for this program. Call 1-866-TX-TREES with name, address and grade level. Teachers Conservation Institute is taught in two levels: Phase I and Phase II. Both are both week-long workshops which use the forest to teach environmental education. Phase I activities are led by foresters, educators, natural resource conservationists and industry professionals. The interdisciplinary workshop focuses on the environmental, economic, and social well-being of the state that comes through the scientific stewardship of its natural resources. Some of their learning experiences and field trips during the workshop include a logging operation, sawmill, forest nursery, the Texas Forestry Museum, and wood product facilities. Teachers receive a Project WILD and Project Learning Tree environmental education curricula as part of the resource materials. Brandi Loftin, fifth grade science teacher in the Groveton ISD, was sponsored by TCFLA to attend TCI Phase I in 2013. Dan Barnes showed the reprint of the "History of Trinity County" which was produced by the Trinity Historical Society. The reprinted book sells for $75.00 and is available by contacting Dan Barnes. The next meeting of the Trinity County Forest Landowners Association will be on Saturday, April 26, 2014 as part of the Tree Farmer of the Year tour of the G. Gibson Family Limited Partnership tree farm in Trinity County. For information call 615-594-4642.


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