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The NM State Game Commission hosted a “special” meeting on Friday June 17th to address the action items that were rolled over from the June 3rd meeting due to lack of a quorum. As Friday’s meeting started, like magic, a new commissioner appeared to fill the vacant District 1 position (Curry, De Baca, Roosevelt, Chaves, Lincoln, Otero, Eddy and Lea counties). Thank you, Gov. Lujan Grisham, for hearing our plea and finally appointing a fifth Commissioner. It felt like there was a collective sigh of relief from all of us regulars in the room who have witnessed the Commission tensions continue to build over the past few months. There are still two vacancies on the Commission but at least with 5 Commissioners motions will no longer die on a tie vote.
The new Commissioner is Gregg Fulfer of Jal, New Mexico. He is a former state senator and former Lea County commissioner. He has a degree in electrical engineering from NM State University and is a retired businessman. He previously owned and operated several successful electrical, oil & gas, and cattle businesses in New Mexico & west Texas. And he is now the lone Republican on the NM State Game commission. Congratulations on your appointment Commissioner Fulfer! Welcome aboard. NMCOG looks forward to working with you.
FURTHER DISCUSSION OF THE BIGHORN SHEEP RULE
48hrs prior to Friday’s meeting (and in compliance with the Open Meetings Act) the NMDGF posted a briefing to the Bighorn Sheep agenda item which indicated that the Commission would be discussing 2 amendments to the Bighorn Sheep Rule. The first was to place a once-in-a-lifetime constraint on Bighorn Sheep landowner permits and the other was to remove language that requires the funding generated from Bighorn Sheep raffle permits to be used for the “conservation of bighorn sheep”.
NMCOG sent a letter to the Commission prior to the meeting in opposition to both amendments. In opposition to the once-in-a-lifetime designation, we reminded the commission that “placing restrictions on any private land permits simply creates disincentive for landowners to participate in conservation programs.” NMCOG additionally took the liberty to immediately notify all the landowners who would be impacted by the amendment, and we encouraged those individuals to reach out to the Commission prior to the meeting. At the beginning of the meeting Commissioner Salazar-Henry motioned to amend the agenda to strip the amendment related to private land bighorn permits stating that she credits the folks at the Wedding Cake ranch for their enlightening discussion about the benefits of private land agreements which ultimately changed her perspective on the issue.
In opposition to the language change, NMCOG urged the Commission to maintain the current regulation and argued that all “money generated through the Bighorn Sheep enhancement program should unarguably be fully dedicated to the conservation of NM’s wild sheep populations.” After a lengthy Commission discussion regarding the wording of the statute and how that relates to the Rule, the Commission voted 2-3 to deny a change to the current language which will continue to read “the drawing will be conducted by the department or an incorporated, non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of bighorn sheep.” Commissioners Salazar-Henry and Lopez voted to change the language and Commissioners Archuleta, Fulfer, and Salazar Hickey voted against the motion. You can watch the recording of this discussion HERE the conversation begins at 2:17:00 and is roughly 45 minutes long.
APPROVAL OF THE STATEWIDE FISHERIES MANAGEMENT PLAN
The Commission voted unanimously to approve the 2022 Statewide Fisheries Management Plan which is a document that communicates the vision of the NMDGF regarding the priority of fisheries projects in the state. It additionally outlines efforts to expand or maintain recreational angler opportunities and describes how the Dept. plans to balances this recreational pressure with responsible fisheries conservation.
NMCOG was not at all opposed to this management document however, we did use the agenda item as a platform to express our extreme discontent with the Dept’s interpretation of the NM Supreme Court’s decision as it relates to recreational access to streambeds located on private land. We highlighted the high level of inconsistency between the Dept’s written management plan and the Dept’s newly adopted do-nothing enforcement philosophy as it relates to trespassers trampling riparian ecosystems on private land. Watch our comments HERE at 2:09:34
BUDGET OVERVIEW AND CAPITAL PLAN
The Department also presented the Commission with their current financial and license sales data. The presentation included revenue data related to license sales, federal revenue, and other revenue generated by the Department. The agenda item provided context regarding the financial position and stability of the Dept’s annual revenue, which is generated primarily by (no surprise) non-resident hunting license sales. Click HERE to view the Dept’s very informative presentation or watch the Dept. presentation HERE starting at minute 58.57. The Commission voted unanimously to approve the Dept’s 5-year capital plan and capital request to the Department of Finance and Administration.
Next Commission Meeting – July 22, 2022 (Ruidoso, NM)
COMMISSIONER CONTACT INFORMATION
(You're encouraged to contact the Commissioners any time to voice your opinion)
Sharon Salazar Hickey - Chairwoman
District 4: Santa Fe, Taos, Colfax, Union, Mora, Harding, Quay, San Miguel, Guadalupe
and Torrance counties
Deanna Archuleta - Vice Chairwoman
At - Large Position
District 1: Curry, De Baca, Roosevelt, Chaves, Lincoln, Otero, Eddy and Lea counties
District 2: Catron, Socorro, Grant, Hidalgo, Luna, Sierra and Doña Ana counties
Appointed - Agriculture Position
District 3: San Juan, Rio Arriba, McKinley, Sandoval, Cibola, & Valencia counties
District 5: Bernalillo County