Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Gov. Lays Out Plan for Lands
By Tania Soussan
Journal Staff Writer
SANTA FE Gov. Bill Richardson outlined on Monday a six-point plan to ensure hunters and anglers have access to public lands and get more opportunities to bag trophy animals.
The governor outlined the proposals at a Capitol Rotunda news conference billed as a campaign event and with Democratic state land commissioner candidate Jim Baca at his side.
Incumbent Land Commissioner Pat Lyons, a Republican who is running for re-election in the Nov. 7 general election, responded later in the day with a news release that said he is pleased Richardson is on board with his efforts to increase access on state trust lands.
Richardson said some of his proposals will go to the Legislature next year while others can be tackled administratively.
He called for:
Legislation to require public access easements any time state land is sold or traded and a review board to make sure public lands don't get landlocked;
Doubling from $250,000 to $500,000 funding for purchases of easements under a program to be renamed "Open Gate" and hiring an "access specialist" at the Game and Fish Department;
Requiring the state Land Office to make an annual report to the Legislature and governor on land where hunting, fishing or recreation has been lost and what land has been added to offset the losses;
Issuing two new "grand slam" hunting permits that allow someone the chance to get an elk, deer, oryx, ibex and pronghorn in the same year and 24 new big-game, game-bird and fishing licenses sold to raise money for wildlife conservation;
Oil and gas drilling guidelines to protect wildlife habitat on state lands;
Spending an extra $100,000 to expand programs to teach young people to hunt and fish responsibly.
Some of the proposals are similar to ideas from Baca's campaign. "I always get good ideas on public lands and state lands from Jim Baca," Richardson said, endorsing Baca for land commissioner.