FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2021
Angie Poss, Assistant Commissioner of Communications
Commissioner Garcia Richard and Game Commission Sign Four-Year Easement Agreement for Hunting Access
SANTA FE, NM – New Mexico’s Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard and the New Mexico Game Commission have entered into a four-year easement agreementto give licensed hunters and anglers access to nearly nine million acres of state trust land. Through the easement, the NM Department of Game and Fish will pay an annual rate of $800,000 directly to the State Land Office for access, along with agreeing to spend an additional $200,000 annually on mutually-agreed upon projects to improve sportsperson access and wildlife habitat. The Commissioner will also have the ability to designate new areas for dispersed and backpack camping.
“This new easement is reflective of the success of the version that we signed with the Commission last March. Our pilot projects for dispersed and backpack camping in the Luera Mountains and at White Peak were well received by the hunting community and well executed by staff on both sides. We hope to build on that in the coming years with new areas and programs to enhance the overall experience for our licensed sportspeople,” Commissioner Garcia Richard said. “The split in direct and indirect funding for access to state trust land is meant to provide stability to the Department while solidifying our joint commitment to improving access while simultaneously stewarding our land, air, water, and wildlife. We’re proud that our shared commitments shine through in what was signed today.”
For years, camping on state trust land for hunters has only been allowed in a small number of designated areas. 2020 pilot programs that expanded camping opportunities will be used as a framework for future projects.
“One of the values we share with the State Land Office is the ability to get our families outside,” Game Commission Vice-Chair Jeremy Vesbach said during a recent meeting. “One thing this pandemic has shown us is how important outdoor recreation and our ties to the land is. This easement shows that and expands opportunities to camp and get outside. I’m excited for this easement.”
Since March 2020, the Department and the State Land Office partnered on $200,000 worth of projects to fulfill the indirect project spending portion of the easement. Those successes include completed projects and some that are currently in progress. They are:
- sheep net-wire fence modification to wildlife friendly design in SE New Mexico
- Canadian River native riparian vegetation establishment project in Harding and Mora Counties where several thousand willows and hundreds of cottonwood poles will be planted along 2-3 miles of stream bank
- improvements to Luera Mountains Access Road in Catron County
- new Turkey Ridge campsite and fencing on Chupadera Mesa in Socorro County.
- 67 new sportsperson access points including signage and gate installation (20 vehicle access, 47 walk-in access)
- launched two new pilot programs for licensed New Mexico hunters that created the previously mentioned dispersed and backpack camping opportunities
The State Land Office exists to manage and steward nine million surface and 13 million mineral acres to support vital New Mexico institutions like our public schools, hospitals, and universities. The funds paid by the Department to the State Land Office over the term of the four-year easement will benefit New Mexico public schools. The new four-year easement agreement can be read in its entirety here.
Under the leadership of Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard, the New Mexico State Land Office has seen back-to-back years of revenue over $1 billion. Over 13 million acres of state trust land are leased for a variety of uses, including ranching and farming, renewable energy, business development, mineral development, and outdoor recreation. The money earned from leasing activity supports 22 beneficiaries – New Mexico public schools, seven universities and colleges, the School for the Deaf, the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, three hospitals, water and land conservation projects, and public building construction and repair.