The New Mexico Game and Fish Commission has just called a last-minute emergency meeting to try to push through a new rule limiting New Mexicans access to our public streams and rivers.
The proposed rule would infringe upon the constitutional rights of New Mexico citizens and tourists to utilize publicly accessible streams and their streambeds, including those flowing through or adjacent to private property, for fishing, boating, or other recreational purposes. The rule also holds out a false promise to landowners, who would be required to undergo an arduous process to have a stream certified as non-navigable and subject to the new rule and trespass statute.
And all of this is happening while the New Mexico Constitution and the New Mexico Supreme Court have already made this abundantly clear: the state’s waters are for all New Mexico citizens, not just the wealthy few.
It’s not that New Mexico citizens should be able to trample over someone’s land, just the opposite in fact. Public rights are not for sale; they don’t come with your real estate transaction. If there’s a stream running across your property and you own the entire property, no one can walk across your property to fish that stream. But, if we can access that stream via public land, that’s a public stream.
The Game Commission has chosen to disregard the legal advice of two attorneys general (including the current one) and the New Mexico Legislature who originally outlined the way rulemaking was to be done. With these actions, the Commission has shown whose side it’s really on.
Arguably the worst part of all this is the rushed implementation of the rule hearing. Back in September, the game commission chose not to hear the rule. Now at the last minute right before the end of the year, the commission has called an emergency meeting in Albuquerque to hear about the rule. By doing this “emergency” meeting, they are also limiting the time for public comment to just a couple weeks, when 30 days is the norm.
Public comment is now open and we need you to speak up for our constitution and the rights of all New Mexicans to access the land and water that belongs to all of us. Take action now by clicking here and submitting your comment.