NM Waterfowl Hunters Comment on 2019 State Land Closure

The New Mexico State Land office is undergoing a public planning process for the 212 acre parcel of state land adjacent to Valle de Oro that was unilaterally closed to waterfowl hunting by the state land office in 2019. The area was closed with no opportunity for public comment beforehand. The New Mexico Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers was heavily engaged in fighting this hunting closure when it was taking place and later met with the Valle de Oro refuge manager to explore a potential sale to the USFWS and the creation of a hunting program. Now, five years later, the SLO is currently accepting public comment about the types of activities that should be allowed on this parcel and whether a transfer to USFWS should be considered.

NMBHA believes that this parcel should remain open to waterfowl hunting regardless of who manages it. This parcel provides a unique opportunity for waterfowl hunting close to our largest urban center, making it accessible for those that don’t have the time or financial means to travel long distances. Waterfowl hunting occurs for a very limited season and daily timeframe. Hunters need to raise their voices via comments and public meetings to ensure our interest in this area is in the public record.

See NMBHA's original letter to the state land office on this issue in addition to a story aired on KRQE and comments from New Mexico hunters sharing their connection to this area. Submit your comments online and show up to public meetings on 4/16 and 5/18 to represent the hunting community. See the State Land Office's "Rio Grande Parcel Planning" page here. 

See New Mexico BHA's original letter to State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richards

KRQE - New restriction stops hunting on south valley bosque land

Comments from Local Hunters

  • The 212 acres in the South Valley was a pretty special place for hunters in the area. It represented an oasis for us in an area that is steadily becoming less friendly to sportsmen and women. It was the only section of huntable river between the souther border of the Isleta Pueblo and the small section of public land in Pena Blanca. Location alone made it amazing. The proximity to agricultural fields attracted and held birds consistently, and being in Bernalillo County, it avoided the outdated stipulations associated with the Middle Rio Grande Valley dark goose seasons. It was close enough for epic before-work hunts and easy, short days for new or young hunters. Many people weren’t aware of this chunk of land, which meant there was rarely other pressure. There was never conflict over proximity to others and we never found the discarded pile of shells or trash associated with some of the more popular spots. It truly was some of the best hunting I’ve encountered, and although I know it will never be the same, this is OUR land. - Aaron Hunke, Albuquerque


  • In 17 years of waterfowl hunting, I have hunted from Arkansas to New Mexico, and the Valle de Oro location was the best hunting experience I have ever enjoyed. It is a shame that it was closed. It was going to be a good spot to introduce my 7-year-old stepson to hunting. - Jessie Marquez, Albuquerque


  • Coming from a state with great waterfowl and public lands close to home, it was nice to find (in southern Bernalillo County) a place close and safe to the public, allowing me to make quick morning hunting trips and keep up with my passion for waterfowl. With public land getting smaller and smaller every year, this section of land is critical to fight for. - Bryce Blacklee, Albuquerque


  • I now live in Southeast New Mexico, but 20-plus years ago I lived in Albuquerque. Along with my brother and cousin who lives in the South Valley, I have hunted this piece of state land for many years, since the early 1990s at least. I remember when we would drive down the ditch bank to go hunt pheasant and waterfowl by the river. I feel the State Land Office needs need to reconsider closing this prime spot to hunt. - David Archibeque, Roswell


  • I have hunted the river several times at the Valle de Oro. I have been hunting this section of the river since last season. This season I hunted it once a week until the unexpected closure. The reason why I hunted this area and enjoyed it so much, is because being so close to my house it was easy for me to enjoy the outdoors and the beauty of New Mexico. We can go to this section and still make it to work or make it back to enjoy time with the family. It has been such a great and promising part of the river. Having it suddenly and wrongfully taken away has been quite frustrating. My friends and I have such busy schedules, so having a place close to us has been great to keep our love of the outdoors and companionship strong. - James Cordova
About Katie DeLorenzo

As BHA's Western Regional Manager Katie supports Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah and other coordinators across the west. When not working, she's exploring the Southwest with her husband, toddler and black lab, cooking wild game, and shooting her bow.

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