Passionate Local BHA Member Makes a Difference
BHA was alerted to a possible road closure resolution in Grant County by one of our local members. We immediately sent a letter to the Grant County Board of Commissioners (read our original letter here) urging robust discussion and public comment before approving the resolution.
The Grant County Road and Planning Department and Road Abandonment Committee had already approved the resolution to give up 4.5 miles of Bald Knoll Road to private ownership (see the Bald Knoll Abandonment Packet here) noting the county’s inability to fund the $6K annual road maintenance budget.
The County Road and Planning Departments approved the abandonment despite BLM Assistant District Manager David Wallace stating in an August 2021 letter that “Bald Knoll Road provides limited legal and physical access to approximately 5,000 acres of contiguous public and state lands and is on record as being held legally on public land by Grant County under BLM serial number NMNM 052981. A County decision to abandon this road would likely negatively affect the public’s use of these lands. The public should be afforded the right to legal and physical access for the continued use and enjoyment of their public and state lands.” (read the full letter here)
The decision making power then shifted to the Grant County Board of Commissioners. Fortunately, the county commissioners worked to get a thorough understanding of this issue before taking any action. Thanks to pressure from New Mexico BHA, several New Mexico State Game Commissioners, local Representatives, and local public land users, only a small portion of the road was eventually abandoned. Rather than approving the original proposal that would have shut down 4.6 miles of a public right of way, only about 250 ft. of road will be abandoned to give a private resident a small cushion from the public roadway to prevent unwanted traffic at his home.
Bald Knoll Road is a public road and has been for many decades. NMBHA worked hard to ensure any closure or transfer of ownership to private interests would include equal recompense to the public for its loss of public land and access for both current and future generations of Americans. This closure would have resulted in the immediate loss of access to 40 acres of BLM land that would have become landlocked, limited access to 5,000 acres of adjacent BLM and state trust land, setting a precedent for casual and unjustified road closures in Grant County, and the danger of additional closures in the future. NMBHA educated the public on this clsoure, wrote letters, contacted key decision makers and stakeholders to encourage public support, provided alternatives to a full closure, and tuned in to all relevant county commission meetings to make sure the public's voice was heard and access in this abundant mule deer and coues deer habitat was maintained for generations to come.