There are moments as a public servant where you are faced with situations that require immediate action.
For me, increasing concerned calls and e-mails about guns being discharged within 1,000 feet of family homes and less than a mile from three schools was alarming. To learn it was happening on state trust land made me sick. So in order to protect the safety and well-being of families and the surrounding community, I made a decision to remove 212 acres in the heart of the bosque in the South Valley from our hunting easement with the Department of Game and Fish.
The State Land Office is essential to our hunting community in New Mexico. We provide nearly 9 million acres of uninhibited access for hunters, even at the expense of our agricultural community that pays to lease the land that hunters use.
The land in question has not traditionally been used by hunters. The 212 acres became accessible last year when the wildlife refuge next door built a parking lot and AMAFCA put a bridge in near that parking lot. Removal of land is not an easy decision, but I am responsible for what happens on that land. The thought of someone accidentally discharging a weapon near innocent kids, or anyone out enjoying the Bosque, isn’t a viable option for me.
I’ve worked hard, in consultation with a group of sportspeople across New Mexico, to expand access for hunters. I have been told “no” by the Department of Game and Fish. If you think we should improve the hunting experience by expanding access to camping, increased signage, improved roads, and a public engagement campaign, then please call or e-mail your Game commissioners and ask them to reconsider the Land Office’s recommendations to improving our hunting agreement. We can protect South Valley families and increase access for hunters, all we need is a willing Game Commission. Contact information for the Commission can be found at www.wildlife.state.nm.us/commission/meet-the-commissioners.