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PNS Daily Newscast - September 25, 2020 


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Momentum Builds to Reform New Mexico Stream Access

An effort to roll back New Mexico's Non-Navigable Water Rule is supported by 10 conservation groups and several national sporting goods companies. (blog.nwf.org)
An effort to roll back New Mexico's Non-Navigable Water Rule is supported by 10 conservation groups and several national sporting goods companies. (blog.nwf.org)
November 25, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico is on its way to abandoning or amending the Non-Navigable Water Rule adopted in 2017. The rule enabled private landowners with a stretch of public water passing through their property to apply for a "non-navigable" certificate.

Enacted by the Department of Game and Fish, the state's Attorney General has declared the rule "unconstitutional and unenforceable." And last week, the Game Commission ordered the rule be amended or repealed. Jesse Deubel, executive director with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, said the policy has inhibited the use of such waterways as the Pecos River.

"If I'm going to take a rafting trip down the river, they're are sections of the Pecos River that have concertina razor wire, coils of razor wire, spanning the river,” Deubel said. “So, physically, you're not able to do this float trip on water that belongs to the public."

The Game and Fish website shows the department has accepted five applications from landowners requesting the department certify certain waters as "non-navigable." Two more applications are pending.

Three members of New Mexico's congressional delegation support a moratorium on more certificates being issued. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, have noted outdoor recreation supports good health, contributes to quality of life and attracts and sustains employers and families.

Deubel said the rule also has negative consequences for the state's economy.

"Outdoor recreation is an incredibly large economic boost for this state,” he said. “It provides economic opportunity, it provides jobs; it's immense the benefits that it provides. And that's another reason that this rule is such a bad idea.”

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, the recreation economy supports 99,000 direct jobs and nearly $3 billion in wages in New Mexico. Deubel said the review procedure likely will last well into 2020.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM