By NM Wildlife Federation
The New Mexico Wildlife Federation in June stepped up its campaign to get state authorities to follow the State Constitution and recognize that rivers, streams and other waters of the state remain open to the public.
John Crenshaw, president of the NMWF board, and Jesse Deubel, NMWF executive director, wrote the newly appointed members of the State Game Commission in June urging them to roll back a rule that previous commissioners enacted two years ago. That 2017 rule purports to allow landowners to petition the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish to certify streams and other waters on private property as “non-navigable,” and accordingly closed to public access without the owner’s written permission.
The NMWF letter cites a 1945 ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court that found the public — meaning anglers, boaters or others — may fish, float or otherwise use streams and streambeds where they run through private property as long as the public doesn’t trespass across private land to access the waters, or trespass from the stream onto private land. Several New Mexico attorneys general including incumbent AG Hector Balderas have issued opinions saying essentially the same thing.
The NMWF urges its members to contact game commissioners and express support for rolling back the rule that purports to have the game department certify waters as non-navigable. For more information, check here.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and key state lawmakers met with representatives of conservation groups in Santa Fe June 4 to celebrate the passage of Wildlife Corridors Act in this year’s legislative session. The governor invited Jeremy Romero of the National Wildlife Federation and the New Mexico Wildlife Federation to speak.
The wildlife corridors measure, sponsored by Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, put up $500,000 for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the New Mexico Department of Transportation to identify areas around the state where wildlife crossing highways poses a risk to motorists. The bill directs the departments to take steps to reduce the dangers. For more information, click here.
Gila Diversion Talk
ALBUQUERQUE — Norm Gaume, former director of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, has devoted years to fighting a pending proposal to take water from the Gila River for irrigation. He’s giving a public talk about what’s wrong with the project and why now’s the time to pull the plug.
Gaume will speak on the Gila diversion project as part of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation’s monthly lecture series. The free talk starts at 5:30 p.m. Wed., July 10, at Marble Brewery’s Northeast Heights location at 9904 Montgomery Blvd., NE, in Albuquerque.
Gaume noted that the river flows out of the Gila Wilderness, the nation’s first wilderness area. It was set aside on the recommendation of pioneering conservationist Aldo Leopold, who also founded the New Mexico Wildlife Federation.
“They set aside the Gila Wilderness and the headwaters because it’s a very special place, and to allow people, our descendants, to experience wilderness travel,” Gaume said.
For more information on his presentation, click here.
Women Elected to Top Game Commission Posts
The NMWF in June congratulated two members of the New Mexico Game Commission who were unanimously elected to leadership positions, marking the first time women have held the posts.
The commission on June 14 unanimously elected Joanna Prukop to serve as chairwoman and unanimously elected Roberta Salazar-Henry as vice-chairwoman. Both Prukop and Salazar-Henry previously had long careers as administrators in the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. For more information, click here.
Daryl Ratajczak, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service in New Mexico, gave a talk June 12 on bear behavior as part of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation’s wildlife lecture series. In his talk titled “The Language of Bears,” he gave tips on how to interpret how bears act and how to stay safe in the woods. For more information, click here
Nearly 100 New Mexico children came out to the Aldo Leopold Fishing Derby, held June 1, at Lake Roberts, in the Gila. The following groups and organizations helped with the event: Mora National Fish Hatchery, Gila National Forest, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Friends of the Aldo Leopold Fishing Derby, Trout Unlimited Rio Grande/Gila Chapter, New Mexico Wildlife Federation and Nuestra Tierra. For more information, click here.