FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: September 26, 2022
State Land Office, Department of Game and Fish Dedicate Wildlife Drinker
Structure provides water, forage for area wildlife
SANTA FE, N.M. – Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard and the New Mexico State Land Office (NMSLO) convened on Friday, September 23 with the New Mexico Department of Game of Fish (NMDGF), Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, and outdoor recreationists to dedicate a wildlife drinker (also known as a guzzler) on state trust lands bordering the West Potrillos Mountains. The project was first proposed by former Game Commissioner David Soules to provide area wildlife with fresh drinking water on a dry and unforgiving landscape. Soules’ leadership was instrumental in bringing all relevant parties together to complete the project. The ongoing collaboration between NMDGF and NMSLO on this project is part of an agreement between the two agencies to work together to improve opportunities for New Mexico’s outdoor enthusiasts and sportspeople.
“Hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and related activities are popular throughout New Mexico. Ensuring access to drinking water improves wildlife health, which in turn offers incredible outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Commissioner Garcia Richard. “From day one I made a commitment to make it easier for New Mexicans to access our public lands and experience the natural wonders of our state. I’m proud that we’ve been able to work closely with agencies like Game and Fish and the numerous outdoor enthusiasts who helped make this happen. Hopefully we can appropriately honor David’s vision through this project.”
“I am excited to show this tangible result of our ongoing, statewide partnership with the State Land Commissioner to benefit wildlife, wild lands, and the people who enjoy them,” said New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Director Mike Sloane.
Drinkers help provide drinking water for migrating wildlife on some of the most remote landscapes. This is particularly needed given recent record droughts in the Southwest and the ongoing impacts of climate change. The drinkers installed in the West Potrillos could support a number of essential wildlife species in the area, including mule deer, Gambel’s quail, desert cottontails, roundtail horned lizard, and many others. In addition to the collaboration between the two agencies, input from sportspeople and other stakeholders was vital to ensuring the project met the needs of both wildlife and recreationists.
“Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks is excited to partner with the New Mexico State Land Office and Department of Game and Fish on this guzzler project,” said Patrick Nolan, Executive Director of the Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. “Projects like these demonstrate the great potential of partnerships between land management agencies and nonprofits for the betterment of our public lands. Investments such as these are critical to ensuring a healthy and thriving public lands for future generations.”
“We want to thank the State Land Office and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish for partnering on this important addition to our southern New Mexico landscapes,” said John Cornell, Southwest Field Manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This is a huge step in providing much needed water for all wildlife that live in the Chihuahuan desert around Las Cruces”.
“It’s been a long and arduous journey to construct a drinker in one of the most remote and arid areas in southwestern New Mexico,” said Jesse Deubel, Executive Director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “Although this project was a long shot, David Soules’s enthusiasm and persistence helped to bring this to fruition, in combination with the New Mexico State Land Office and the New Mexico Department of Game. Thanks to David, the benefits to birds and wildlife will be priceless.”
In January 2021, the NMSLO and NMDGF entered into a four-year easement agreement to improve sportspeople access in the state and to provide funding for mutually agreed-upon projects to improve wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.
Commissioner Garcia Richard also opened the first Outdoor Recreation Office within the State Land Office. As part of the program, the Commissioner has made outdoor recreation permits more accessible, including enabling online purchases with credit cards and removing the requirement that applications be notarized in person. These changes have resulted in tremendous growth to the agency’s outdoor recreation permitting program, resulting in a 425% increase in the number of outdoor recreation permits processed since fiscal year 2018.