New Mexico anglers know all too well that the Land of Enchantment has precious few fishable streams, and that many sections of those rivers and streams are closed to the public.
What most anglers don’t know is that they have a constitutional right to fish in any stream that they can reach without crossing private land. This right was enshrined in water law when was New Mexico was a territory and written into our state Constitution. The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld and clarified these public access rights in 1945. Yet for more than 70 years the State Game Commission has ignored the Constitution, telling anglers they can be fined or even jailed if caught fishing in a “private” stream.
This Wednesday, Dec. 20, the State Game Commission will again take up the issue of stream access. But instead of revising the regulations in favor of New Mexico anglers, they are trying to make it harder for the public to exercise their constitutional right to access New Mexico streams for fishing, boating or any other recreational use.
These new regulations have been developed with no public input. They fly in the face of the New Mexico Constitution and the 1945 Supreme Court decision. Once again, our State Game Commission – appointed by the governor – appears ready to ignore the rights of law-abiding New Mexico anglers and continue to keep streams closed to their rightful owners – the public.
Please take a moment to send your thoughts to the Game Commission. Tell them you’re a law-abiding angler who respects the state Constitution. Ask them to postpone action. Ask them to prepare a plan that will allow the fishing public to access all waters in the state, to conduct an education outreach for anglers and streamside landowners on this new era in New Mexico fishing, to write additional regulations as necessary to protect fisheries and habitat, and to increase streamside law enforcement.
Also, tell them you can’t attend the meeting because – as usual – it is being held on a weekday during working hours.
Email your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The meeting runs from 9-12 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 20, at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North. Attend if you can.