Family's Future Forever Changed After Land, Trees Bulldozed By Oil Company

"It's all gone, forever."

Melody Shelton is referring to a piece of her land that used to be filled with mesquite trees and native grass, now reduced to dirt and stumps.

It's to the work of an oil and gas company over the weekend that not only changes the land -- it changes the family's future, forever.

"It was a mix of crying and cussing when I saw it," she explained Wednesday afternoon.

Shelton and her husband purchased the property in 2008, after years of hard work, as a place to settle down and raise their granddaughter.

"We wanted to get away from it all, be out in the country. Unfortunately, the city has come to us," Shelton said.

When they bought the land, they knew it had oil and gas pipelines running underneath, as well as easements on their property, dating back as far as 1943.

"This one was done in 1971, it's a blanket easement and very vague," she said.

The couple doesn't own the mineral rights, but they do lay claim to the surface rights.

"The way I see it is if they take our surface rights, and we don't have the mineral rights, they lay concrete and we lose the use of our land," she explained.

"We've already lost the beauty of our land. The only thing we're left is with is that we paid for the land and we have to pay property taxes on it, and they get to enjoy the use of it, plus they get to make billions of dollars."

Saturday, it escalated. Shelton says she returned home after being told crews from Enterprise Oil and Gas were there to repair a fence, to find dozens of mesquite trees bulldozed to the ground.

"They have billions, we don't. We're just now doing the best that we can."

While Shelton now has an attorney helping her fight her battle, she just hopes no one else in the Big Country falls victim to what they didn't even know was there.

"This will never grow back in my lifetime, it's forever gone," she said of her ravaged land.

We spoke with the Contract Right of Way agent for Enterprise, Jack Henderson, who told KTAB since the Sheltons have retained an attorney, the company is not willing to comment any further on the situation.

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