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The New Mexico State Game Commission held their second fully virtual meeting via Zoom last Thursday. The agenda was once again routine and there was a noticeable lack of public comment. The process for providing public comment during these virtual meeting, while relatively painless, does require more effort than previously, which likely explains the lack of public involvement. There were just a few technical glitches and the meeting was wrapped up several hours early.
The meeting began with Commission Committee updates from the various committee chairs established by Commission Chairwoman Salazar-Hickey during the April Commission meeting. Director Sloane also provided an update. These updates are expected to be an every meeting event from here on out. Committees are as follows:
Salazar-Henry – Chair, Members –Bates & Vesbach
Customer & Stakeholder Committee
Cramer – Chair, Members – Lopez
Organizational Profile Committee
Soules – Chair, Members –Salazar-Henry & Cramer
Hunt Structure Committee
Vesbach – Chair, Member – Salazar-Henry & Soules
The updates provided by the Commissioners regarding their work within these individual committees were remarkably interesting and did seem to add a level of transparency to the Commission Meeting (which was the goal). The update from the Hunt Structure Committee was particularly interesting Commissioner Salazar-Henry commented that through her involvement in the committee she has seen the importance of non-resident hunter license revenue to the financial stability to the NMDGF as an agency.
UPDATE ON THE DEPARTMENT’S NATIVE FISH PROGRAM
Fisheries Chief Kirk Patton provided the Commission an update on the Dept.’s fish programs. Priority activities for the department include stream habitat restoration, repatriation of native fish and invertebrates, and native trout restoration. Notable successes in recent years include: A 21% increase in the New Mexico distribution of Rio Grande cutthroat trout since 2006, improving two miles of habitat for Chihuahua chub and Rio Grande sucker, complete removal of non-native trout from 23 miles of habitat in the Whitewater Creek drainage for Gila Trout restoration, and increases in the abundance and frequency of young Colorado Pikeminnow in the
San Juan River.
Continuing initiatives for the Native Fish Program include: Participation in the San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program for Razorback Sucker and Colorado Pikeminnow, research and restoration efforts for lower Pecos drainage species (Texas Hornshell, Pecos Pupfish, Blue Sucker & Grey Redhorse), native trout restoration for Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout and Gila Trout, improving habitat for Chihuahua chub, and development/implementation of Conservation Strategies for Rio Grande Chub and Sucker. This presentation was for discussion purposes only and no action was taken by the Commission.
INITIATION OF BOUNDARY DESCRIPTIONS FOR GAME MANAGEMENT UNITS
Department Wildlife Chief Stewart Liley provided a presentation on the Dept.’s proposed changes to several boundary description for GMUs. Chief Liley stressed that these recommendations are for clarification purposes only and will have no impact on hunters in the field.
Proposed changes include: Areas that were inadvertently not included in any GMU , assigning areas to only one GMU that were inadvertently assigned to two GMUs, modifying GMU assignment of certain areas and/or boundary descriptions to align with implementation on the ground, and other proposed minor changes that correspond to features on the ground, using correct feature names, and including additional clarifying language. Proposed changes will be posted on the Dept. website for public comment. Specific changes are as follows:
FINANCIAL REVIEW AND APPROVAL OF FISCAL YEAR 2022 CAPITAL OUTLAY REQUEST
The Department CFO provided financial and license sales data for the past three fiscal years for discussion purposes as part of the Hunt Structure Committee report. The presentation included revenue data related to license sales, federal revenue, and other revenue generated by the Department. The presentation was extremely interesting and clearly highlighted the extraordinary, and irreplaceable, importance of non-resident hunting license revenue to the overall budget of the NMDGF. Anyone wishing to watch the presentation click HERE and fast forward to 2:40:25.
During this presentation, the Department also sought Commission guidance on priorities, areas of emphasis, and desired changes in the 2022 Capital Project Plan. The Department also gathers executive branch guidance from the Governor's Office in their development of the fiscal year 2022 capital budget request.
INITIATION OF AMENDMENTS TO THE HUNTER EDUCATION RULE
The Dept. also provided a presentation to make changes to the Hunter Education Rule to allow first-time youth hunters, 8 years of age and older, the ability to hunt small game, turkey, javelina, deer and pronghorn antelope for two license years under the Dept.’s Mentored-Youth Hunting Program. The proposed age rollback would
more effectively align with the minimum age requirement of 10 for online hunter education certification. It would also allow hunting opportunities for pronghorn antelope.
Under the current rule participants in the program are limited to hunting small-game, turkey, deer and javelina. And registration is only available for youth 10 years of age and older (under age 18) and is valid for a period of two consecutive license years. Proposed amendments will be posted on the Department website for public input.
Next Commission Meeting – August 13th (Possibly Chama – Possibly Virtual)
COMMISSIONER CONTACT INFORMATION
(You are welcome & encouraged to contact the Commissioners to voice your opinion)
Sharon Salazar Hickey - Chairwoman
District 4: Santa Fe, Taos, Colfax, Union, Mora, Harding, Quay, San Miguel, Guadalupe and Torrance counties
Roberta Salazar-Henry – Vice Chairwoman
District 2: Catron, Socorro, Grant, Hidalgo, Luna, Sierra and Doña Ana counties
District 1: Curry, De Baca, Roosevelt, Chaves, Lincoln, Otero, Eddy and Lea counties
District 3: San Juan, McKinley, Cibola, Valencia, Sandoval, Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties
District 5: Bernalillo county.
Appointed At-large – Conservation Position