Outdoor recreation in New Mexico is a $10 billion industry supporting close to 100,000 jobs and generating more than $600 million in taxes for the state, according to a recent report by the Outdoor Industry Association.
Not only does outdoor recreation attract and sustain employers, but it also contributes to the quality of life for New Mexico families. Residents of the state are more likely to participate in camping and off-roading than the average American.
When it comes to outdoor recreation, the state’s gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Steve Pearce, are advocates.
Lujan Grisham said she recently went hiking and fly-fishing at the Valles Caldera, horseback riding near Canjilon and bicycling at White Sands and El Malpais national monuments.
Pearce said he recently went hiking in the Organ Mountains and took his granddaughter turkey hunting in Lincoln County.
As for their positions on outdoor-related policy issues facing the state, both candidates were sent questions and responded by email. Their answers are below:
The candidates were asked where they stood regarding the controversial issue of commercial wildlife trapping on public lands.
Lujan-Grisham said the state needs a 21st century, science-driven management program that promotes and protects animal welfare and reduces the indiscriminate capture, maiming or killing of wildlife and domestic pets except in those cases involving individual animals that are causing serious and possibly life or property-threatening damage or depredation.
Pearce said he supports regulated commercial trapping on public lands for wildlife management purposes and added that a balance must be maintained between protecting the environment and wildlife and a citizen’s ability to hunt and trap.
The candidates were asked their position on the law that requires wildlife involved in attacks on humans to be euthanized for rabies testing . The issue came to light recently after a mother bear with two cubs attacked a trail runner at the Valles Caldera and had to be put down.
Lujan-Grisham said she supported a study of the issue to determine whether alternative rabies testing and assessment methods are available while still ensuring public safety.
Pearce said he is opposed to any change in the law but would consider updating it in the future if necessary.
The candidates were asked what they thought of the idea to create a state office or agency to support and promote outdoor recreation in New Mexico.
Lujan-Grisham said she supports the idea and would include representatives of the industry in the process if such and agency were created.
“I believe that a creating state office of outdoor recreation, done the right way, is a clear step in the right direction to promoting and expanding this growing industry,” she said.
Pearce is opposed to the idea, noting that state agencies already exist that with proper management, resources and coordination could do more to promote and support the industry.
“The State has the proper resources in place to promote our beauty – it needs to focus on coordination and action over the creation of more bureaucracy,” Pearce said.
The candidates were asked their opinion of recent proposals to merge the state Department of Game and Fish and the State Parks Division to maximize resources and improve services.
Lujan-Grisham said that she supports a comprehensive study of the proposal and that such a merger would include extensive evaluation and public vetting.
Pearce opposes the proposal, noting that both agencies have the resources to fulfill their unique missions and with proper management should continue to do a good job.
Full answers to these questions from each candidate are available at the Journal’s election guide at abqjournal.com/election2018.
Karl Moffatt is a longtime New Mexico journalist and avid outdoorsman who posts regularly on his blog at www.outdoorsnm.com.