UPDATED: October 23, 2003
NEW MEXICO STATE GAME COMMISSION
Department of Game and Fish
State Capitol Building
Santa Fe, New Mexico
August 20, 2003
9:00 am 5:00 pm
AGENDA ITEM NO. 1 Meeting Called To Order
The meeting was called to order at 9:08 am by Chairman Arvas
AGENDA ITEM NO. 2 Roll Call
Director Thompson called roll:
Chairman Arvas Present
Commissioner Pino Absent
Commissioner Riordan Present
Commissioner Sims Absent
Commissioner Henderson Present
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya Present
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya Absent
Director Thompson stated that there is a quorum.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 3 Introduction of Guests
Chairman Arvas requests members of the audience to introduce themselves.
Director Thompson asked the record show that Commissioner Alfredo Montoya has arrived at 9:12 am.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 4 Approval of Minutes (July 30, 2003)
MOTION: Commissioner Riordan moved to accept the minutes as presented. Commissioner Henderson seconded the motion. VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 5 Approval of Agenda
MOTION: Commissioner J. Montoya moved to accept the agenda as presented. Commissioner Riordan seconded the motion. VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 6 Consent Agenda
Presented by Brian Gleadle The Department will bring forward a list of candidates for revocation consideration by the Commission from the current criteria. Stated there were 121 individuals being revoked for failure to pay penalty assessments, 1 individual who is a guide and outfitter who would be assessed a 10 point violation, not a revocation. There are also 14 individuals for the non-compliance associated with the Parental Responsibility Act.
MOTION: Commissioner J. Montoya moved to accept the revocations as presented. Commissioner Riordan seconded the motion. VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 7 Approval of FY2005 Department Budget Submission.
Presented by Bruce Thompson The Department is required to submit a budget request to the executive and legislative branches every year on or before September 1. The State Game Commission is the governing body of the Department of Game and Fish. The agency cannot submit a budget without Commission approval in a public forum. Since FY02 the effectively flat or diminished budgets have eroded the Department’s ability to move into the future in condition to maintain facilities and adequately service all of the demands and interests of the New Mexico public regarding wildlife, especially the hunters and anglers. Continuation of this trend will have additional diminishing effects if continued into FY05 and will retard economic growth prospects. The Governor’s budget instructions requested a budget as flat as possible, with key target areas for savings, while supporting key initiatives (better schools, better jobs, more money in taxpayer’s pockets). Feels it is important for everyone to realize that the Game and Fish Department is an enterprise agency and that we are required to provide a wide variety of services to many people who pay directly for those types of wildlife based recreational opportunities. The base budget request is $28,576,000 which is 3.4% over the FY04 base, plus added program increase (10 FTE’s) of $669,000 (totaling $29,245,000) which is an amount 5.8% over the FY04 operating budget and it is 0.1% below the FY02 operating budget. The requested FTE’s are 4 conservation officer positions, 1 clerk associated with Outfitter and Guide program, 1 archaeologist within CSD, 1 recreation development specialist, 1 Wildlife Conservation and Education Center Supervisor, 1 Socioeconomic Assessor/Planner, 1 Legislative Liaison. The proposed budget also includes a request for $500,000 from general revenue for Conservation Services Division.
Commissioner A. Montoya asks what the FY02 authorization was? It is indicated in the budget notebook that it was higher than what we are proposing this year on the base budget or inclusive of the program increases. Is it higher than the $29,245,000 in FY02. Director Thompson states is just slightly less than the $29,270,700 that is showing for FY02. Commissioner A. Montoya would like to know what we were doing then that we are not able to do now? Are there any major initiatives or major programs that were put forth and that we are not capable of doing now, that we were engaged in at that time? Pat Block explains that there was one large and several smaller non-recurring items budgeted in that budget year, the main one was the 4 million dollars to lease Eagle Nest Lake, 1 million was expended but it was the non-recurring items that elevated the FY02 budget above and beyond normal.
Commissioner J. Montoya asks if the overview provided is the same as it was when the Commissioners were given their briefings a couple of weeks ago, given that you met with the Governor’s staff yesterday were there any changes in terms of the percentages that are being proposed. Director Thompson states there were some slight changes. This is basically the same information that the Commission was briefed on individually. The changes are that the amount of the base budget was reduced based on those discussions with the Commissioners. Chairman Arvas asks what the dollar figure for the FTE’s in total. Director Thompson states it is $669,000.
Barbara Morin states the Department has provided a very brief overview, like what was presented during the individual meetings on a proposed budget that we would like to submit to Department of Finance and Administration, Governor’s Office and Legislative Finance Committee on September 2. By statute the budget is due on September 1, but this is a holiday so we will be submitting this on September 2. We do need in the minutes your approval of this budget before we can submit it. Commissioner Henderson asks if this budget reflects the Department’s direction in maximizing federal dollars. Barbara Morin states there are 2 answers to this: 1st there is a tremendous increase that shows we are anticipating $781.7 in federal funds over and above what we currently have budgeted. Also based on the FTE count there are other federal dollars available but our ability as an agency based on our size and number of people that we have is limited and so in all honesty there are probably more federal dollars that we can go out and ask for that we are eligible for but I think we are realistic in terms of “can we manage that, can we successfully meet the criteria of getting those additional federal dollars.” Lisa Evans specifically in the Share with Wildlife budget we did originally include the fact that we are using state wildlife grant fund money to match the existing projects, we have taken those out so that we could meet the criteria of not having a too large of a budget increase and we can BAR those back in when we get the grants in place, but we have set aside money to go ahead and fund that program. Overall we have tried to anticipate and do some projections on what all of our federal revenues would be and we have built this into the budget, however, if license sales go down we are going to experience lower revenue than what was projected. We are attempting to tap into other revenue sources. Feels that this budget may be a little conservative in terms of what we would have available but we did not want to expand too much until we know what we have available to us on the federal side. Chairman Arvas asks how the Department handles the situation where an item comes up that is not budgeted for, how do we find funds to cover this. Lisa Evans states that if something comes up that is not anticipated, we would first look to see if it eligible for reimbursement or if it something that we need to create a grant for. We always look to see if we can get the 75% back from some federal revenue or some other revenue source.
Commissioner Riordan asks if our money is deposited with the State Treasurer’s office. Barbara Morin states yes it is. The different funds by statute have different parameters as to how they can be used; some are interest bearing and some are not, we don’t really have a choice in this. Commissioner Riordan asks about the funds that are interest bearing. Asks where the ones that are interest bearing are held, local government or overnight. Barbara Morin again the funds are defined by statute where the money is held.
Commissioner J. Montoya is comfortable in combining all of the budget requests in one motion. Chairman Arvas asks Barbara if there is any advantage in breaking them out for the Department. Barbara Morin states that the Department will work with whatever budget the Commission approves, if the Commission wants the Department to go back and cut the base to come in at a lower percentage, we will do that, if they want us to add to the base or approve the budget that was originally presented at the 5.8% this is how we will proceed. In terms of the program changes the Commission may pick 1, pick all or pick none. This is a presentation to you and our goal is to make sure you understand the budget and that you are comfortable with what is presented because whatever budget is approved today it is the budget that the Commissioners will be defending and supporting during this legislative session. Commissioner Henderson asks if we have the option of forwarding 2 recommendations, or do we have to make a decision on the base or some variation thereof. Barbara Morin states that we will present a budget with the base and any program expansions, LFC has set it up where program expansions are separate. The Commission can do both or change them and LFC and DFA will consider program expansions as separate and above the base. Chairman Arvas asks who gets the proposals first. Barbara Morin states that both DFA and LFC get the proposals at the same exact time.
Paul Aguilar states the executive informs the agencies of his priorities and his direction on the budget, these are published by the Department of Finance and Administration. This is what the agencies use when they are creating their requests. The Legislative Finance Committee also publishes it’s own directives. This is the direction that the LFC analysts take when analyzing the budgets.
Commissioner A. Montoya would prefer to submit one budget, he hesitates with the number of FTE’s; in understanding that the revenue projection is flat, is in agreement that our Director is following up with the many discussions we have had where we really have to make an effort to provide all these services and programs and not entirely on the backs of the license purchases. We have to diversify and we have to go get other revenue sources and in the proposed new FTE’s he disagrees with the legislative liaison. Would like to see it eliminated and add another recreation development specialist for a total of 2. Thinks the lobbying should be done by the Commission, Director and staff. Feels the legislative liaison is a non-essential position.
MOTION: Commissioner A. Montoya moved to accept the combined budget request, base budget and the increased FTE’s, would also like to eliminate the legislative liaison and would like to change it to recreation development specialist. Commissioner Riordan seconded the motion.
Commission Riordan agrees with Commissioner A. Montoya with his comments regarding the legislative liaison position, feels it is not needed either. Commissioner Henderson also agrees, and states that in a perfect world he can see the value of a legislative liaison, but we are not in a perfect world and understands this. We do ask a lot of the staff and this type of a position would possibly help the Department with the legislative work that happens during the rest of the year. Commissioner Riordan states we are asking for 4 officers for the field and this is one of our priorities, wants more people in the field.
Jim Bailey NM Wildlife Federation, certainly supports the request of the $500,000 from general fund for conservation services. Must seek the dollars if we are going to justify the need for alternative funding. With regard to the 10 new FTE’s, feels that one of the most important issues is the loss of habitat and degradation. Suggests that the expansion of the department does not reflect the problem with regard to habitat and endangered species. Director Thompson agrees with Dr. Bailey and these issues are within the capability of the staff. We are making some changes internally to help work on some of these issues. Dale Jones appreciates the constraints that the Department has in creating a budget. Feels the Commission needs to ask the Department to come up with a budget to meet deadlines, he would like to see a budget created as to what the actual needs are for wildlife, so that maybe the public can help during legislature times to see if we can get the Department a budget that they actually need. Chairman Arvas states he would like the public to work closely with the Department to get these issues included into the budget.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 8 Department Capital Budget Plan and Request
Presented by Barbara Morin The Department will present and discuss a 4 year Capital project request for Commission evaluation and approval. This request is a prioritized list of currently identified capital improvement projects for the next 4 years. An important aspect of this plan will center on the FY05 budget request and projects identified for FY05. In priority order these include:
Tod Stevenson states with regard to the Warm Water Hatchery this was allocated last year by the legislature. We are not asking for the dollars for the hatchery, we are asking for the covers at this hatchery, repairs on Clayton Lake, Engineering project. We also need to talk about the Richards Avenue Property. We need to have Commission approval to start the evaluation in order to begin the process of selling the property. The property has greater value now. Director Thompson states that a prior appraisal was approximately $600,000 and we are still waiting for some information from the City of Santa Fe, which has expressed an interest in purchasing the property. Chairman Arvas states what would happen with all the equipment currently at the warehouse. Director Thompson states that the long-term goal would be for this to be moved to the property where the new Santa Fe office is located in conjunction with completing the headquarters complex including construction of the Conservation Education Center.
Commissioner A. Montoya asks for a total dollar amount that we are going to be asking for. Barbara Morin states the total amount is $5,882,000 for FY05. Chairman Arvas states so we need a separate motion. Barbara Morin states yes it would be best because there may be some changes in the number of Federal dollars available. Commissioner Henderson asks about the Lake Roberts Dam, it has a total of $100,000 and we are asking for over $300,000. Barbara Morin states her split is incorrect in the paperwork that the Commission was given. The $100,000 is correct and is just Phase I of the dam.
MOTION: Commissioner Riordan moved to accept the Department’s 4 year capital project budget proposal and the FY05 capital project proposal as presented. Commissioner Henderson seconded the motion.
Commissioner Henderson asks if this is the first time we have gone for severance tax bonds. Barbara Morin states we have done it before, but never at this volume. We have usually sweetened the pot by offering game protection funds, but we don’t have that ability right now. Chairman Arvas asks how the process is done. Barbara Morin states it is very much like the operating budget process. We submit a capital project request that the Commission will sign a certification sheet in October asking for the severance tax bonds, the DFA reviews the requests and we will be in competition with all the other state agencies including public schools for severance tax bonds.
Chairman Arvas asks what happens if we don’t get the severance tax dollars. Barbara Morin states the general budget is flexible, but Capital project dollars are assigned to specific projects and we can’t spend it anywhere else. Commissioner Riordan states that $5 million of these dollars is dictated to us from the Office of State Engineer, but are they going to stand up with us at legislature to get the dollars. Barbara Morin states that they may be willing to provide testimony. Chairman Arvas states we need to make it clear to the Office of State Engineer that they will need to help us get the dollars. Barbara Morin states there is going to be some discussion as to why we are not using Game Protection Fund dollars, this topic will be raised during the legislature. Commissioner A. Montoya states he would not count on OSE to be there next to us, but hopefully they will support what they said we need to do. With regard to the bond interest fund, what is it and where does it come from. Barbara Morin this is one of the unique ways that this agency has to get capital projects. We have established in statute the Bond Interest and Retirement Fund, we have floated one bond issue and this fund was created at this time, there is $1 from certain licenses dedicated to this fund for repayment of the bond. The fund still exists and according to statute the revenues are still coming in, so we generate on a yearly basis a certain amount of money that accrues to the Bond Interest and Retirement Fund. The statute says that with the approval of the State Game Commission and the approval of the Board of Finance we can go ahead and use cash balance that has accumulated in that fund for capital projects. So when we look at the balance in that fund and there is revenue coming in every year we then come to the Commission and give them a cash analysis of the fund and explain what we would like to use from the fund. If it is approved by the Commission we then go before the Board of Finance and they want details of the project. If it is approved we can then budget that money, we do not need to get it appropriated. Commissioner A. Montoya asks if we need to include the bond retirement information with the requests for severance tax funds. Barbara Morin states no we can go ahead and have those as separate, we can withdraw that at this point and you can only approve those that you want. Chairman Arvas states he would prefer to just approve them all and then come back to the Commission with any changes.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
Break 11:20 am 11:45 am
AGENDA ITEM NO. 9 Suggested Legislative Actions
Presented by Tod Stevenson The Department will present suggested legislative actions for Commission review and approval to be considered as Executive initiatives during the 2004 legislative session. These items will include:
Commissioner Riordan asks how much does the Department have in outstanding bonds right now. Barbara Morin states none at the moment. We have had one bonding issue for $2 million and it has been paid back. Commissioner Riordan states the costs are the same to initiate a $2 million or $5 million bond. So in one respect we are saving money, instead of having to go back to the well all the time. Pat Block states that the money to pay back the bonds is set aside by law. There are 10 licenses where this $1 fee comes from: resident fishing, small game, deer, general hunting, general hunting & fishing, trapper, non-resident fishing, non-resident deer, and all temporary fishing licenses. Right now these provide around $250,000 a year. Commissioner A. Montoya asks if these licenses are the only source we have to pay back bonds. Pat Block states yes, it is set by statute. Also states that now is the time to also consider making changes, you could increase the list of licenses that this $1 comes from, you would need caution because you would be taking money from one pocket to put in another. Commissioner Riordan is not in favor of raising any license fees at this time. Commissioner A. Montoya stated it has occurred to him that we are becoming big spenders with our capital outlay and budget, feels we need to give it more thought. We have done good so far, but we need to give some thought because the amounts are so large. Chairman Arvas states that we need to approve the legislative package for the Governor’s office. Tod Stevenson states it puts this on a list of items that would potentially be approved by the Governor, but we have time between now and the legislative session for the Commission to approve the list. It is just a request at this time. Pat Block states this is not approving a bond, it is just giving the Commission the opportunity to start looking at other ways of funding projects.
Mr. Huey states a point of historical comment is that the initial purpose of the bond was to create a mechanism to be able to take advantage of a first opportunity situation. For example purchase property or winter habitat. They used to operate on such a small budget that there was never money to be able to make the purchases they felt were necessary.
Commissioner Riordan asks if there is a revenue stream in addition to what we currently have. The bonds are good and we need to use them to enhance what we already have. Pat Block states there is no reason why we can’t set it up that way. Chairman Arvas states he would entertain a motion to approve increasing the bond fund from $2 million to $5 million in terms of a legislative proposal and to make the fund revolving. Commissioner Riordan states that Commissioner A. Montoya makes a good point in that aren’t we using this money right now for the Conservation Education Center. Pat Block states yes some of the money in the fund has been pledged to the Center. Commissioner A. Montoya states we have already committed $1 million, not from severance tax but from this fund. Pat Block states he is not sure if this was from cash balance or future earnings. Director Thompson states this amount has been previously acted upon and this is for the 4-year capital budget. Pat Block states it was from the existing balances in the bond fund, but will verify it for the Commission. Chairman Arvas states that if he understands it correctly we are not obligating ourselves to anything other than seeking to increase bonding authority from $2 million to $5 million.
MOTION: Commissioner Henderson moved to approve seeking increase of bond authority from $2 million to $5 million and creating the fund as revolving. Commissioner J. Montoya seconded the motion.
Commissioner A. Montoya would like to know if we can incorporate into this and diversify our revenue stream besides the $1. Feels that some of the properties can generate revenue, what would it take to make that change. Pat Block states it would need to be a legislative change. Chairman Arvas states this is not something that the Commission needs to decide on right now, it can be added later in the process if they wanted to. Tod Stevenson states that if we are going to amend the statute then we need to make note of it and get in onto the Governor’s call. Commissioner Henderson wants to get some clarification before making an amendment. If he understands it we are asking for language to present for the Governor’s call to amend the funding streams, possible increase from $1 to $2, different licenses, or anything creative. Are we leaving it to the Department to create the language. Chairman Arvas states it would be recommended language, upon Commission approval. Commissioner Henderson states this would need to go to the Governor before we meet again so we are giving them the ok to draft the language. Tod Stevenson states these are things that we can always come back to the Commission with. It would not take Commission action to approve the specific language and we can go to each commissioner individually. Commissioner Riordan states the language is to help us and to protect us, it needs to be so specific in that we can only go ahead and use the existing dollars that we have without changing the existing statute. The existing dollars that we get from those specific licenses. Those other license monies are used in other places and we are protecting ourselves there, we are expanding our abilities to maybe purchase some other ranches, or do something else for the purpose of creating more opportunity for the sportsmen using that revenue stream that may be generated from that particular purchase for the re-payment of the bonds. So basically his recommendation is that we maintain the existing language that we have that only specific licenses are contributing to the bond re-payment and revenue streams and in addition if any properties are purchased for the purposes of sportsmen that we would use a revenue stream that would also assist us in payment.
MOTION: Commissioner Henderson moved to amend his previous motion to state that we maintain the existing language that we have that only specific licenses are contributing to the bond re-payment and revenue streams and in addition if any properties are purchased for the purposes of sportsmen that we would use a revenue stream that would also assist us in payment. Commissioner J. Montoya accepts friendly amendment. VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
Tod Stevenson explains that we just want to do some minor modifications to the depredation law. Would like to see some language put into Section A of the depredation law that clarifies if a landowner takes an animal and they can’t contact Game and Fish personnel within 24 hours then the landowner is responsible for salvaging the edible portions of the animal. We also want to make sure that they can identify the specific value of what their damage is on the property. We just want to make this law a little more responsible the law itself is a good tool to move this Department forward with the responsibility of responding to damage on private property. Director Thompson states that this is in no way an effort to infringe on the private landowner. Tod Stevenson states that over the last couple of years we have had several different comments on the law. We need direction from the Commission as to how they want us to move forward with these changes to the law. Commissioner J. Montoya does not understand what the Department is actually asking for. Tod Stevenson states the Department has provided the Commission with the actual language from the law and explains what sections A and B mean to the Commission and the differences between them and what we would like to change. Commissioner J. Montoya requests that Tod explain the “spirit of intent” between A and B. All she is seeing is the word “immediate”, besides the list of regulations. Tod Stevenson states that the responsibility under Section B for the Agency is primarily telling the Agency through the Commission that we have the responsibility to go out there and work with these landowners and come up with resolutions to these problems. Section A is a stand alone section that says if animals are on a piece of property and they are either causing damage or the landowner, his lessee or employee feel that they are going to cause a threat or actually damage that property they have the right to kill that animal right then. They don’t have to do anything else, they can go out there and take action immediately to resolve the problem. Section B is what sets up the responsibility from the legislature to the Department. Director Thompson states we are not wanting to change the rights of the private landowner, we are simply seeking the Commission’s guidance whether or not they are comfortable with the Department drafting language to change the statute to make landowners more responsible to document damage and to minimize waste of animals killed.
MOTION: Commissioner J. Montoya moved to have the Commission direct the Department to develop language in reference to Director Thompson’s comments. Commissioner Henderson seconded the motion.
Commissioner Riordan feels we need to be much more restrictive. Would like to amend the motion to show that the landowner damage is in excess of the value of the animal. Has a problem with anyone being able to arbitrarily start knocking down elk or deer.
Jim Karp feels the commission wants to get rid of section A and go with section B and add immediate to the wording. Commissioner J. Montoya asks if the Commission wants to
MOTION: Commissioner J. Montoya amends her motion to remove most of Section A, keep immediate threat to life. Use language from Section B.
Attorney advises that we restate the motion for record.
Commissioner J. Montoya withdraws her motion. Commissioner Henderson withdraws his second.
MOTION: Commissioner J. Montoya moves to direct the Department to reformulate the language that would eliminate Section A move the “immediate threat to life from A to B” also develop language to further clarify and assess the value of species killed and to be obligated to salvage the animal killed by the private landowner. Commissioner Henderson seconded motion. VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
Commissioner J. Montoya asks if we are secure with our Sikes Act committee for 2 years and if they want to be extended we would need to approach the legislature in 2005. Tod Stevenson states yes we are okay for now, but the Commission may want to make any possible changes at this time also.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 10 Closed Executive Session
MOTION: Commissioner A. Montoya moved to enter into Closed Executive Session to discuss matters related to personnel, litigation and land acquisitions, including discussion of transfer of water rights. Commissioner J. Montoya seconded the motion. VOTE: Roll Call vote taken:
Commissioner Henderson Yes
Commissioner J. Montoya Yes
Commissioner Riordan Yes
Chairman Arvas Yes
Commissioner A. Montoya Yes
All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
Closed Executive Session began at 12:48 pm ended at 2:20 pm.
MOTION: Commissioner J. Montoya moved to come out of Closed Executive Session. Commissioner Henderson seconded he motion. VOTE: Voice Call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 11 Transfer of Available Water from Eagle Nest Reservoir
Presented by Jim Karp Requests that Agenda Item No. 11 be tabled until later.
MOTION: Commissioner Riordan moves to table Agenda Item No. 11. Commissioner A. Montoya seconded. VOTE: Voice Call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
Steve Schmidt Attorney from Albuquerque. Just has some questions on this subject. Wants to know what the Commission considers excess water. Sean Brown does not feel at this time it is relevant or necessary to discuss this matter since is has been tabled. When the topic is returned to the Agenda it would then be relevant. Steve Schmidt asks why was the item tabled. Chairman Arvas states it was for a variety of reasons.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 12 Rules on Hunting & Fishing Manner & Method of Taking (19.31.10 NMAC) will be open for Amendment
Presented by Roy Hayes The Department is recommending changing the language found in this rule to make it unlawful for a driver to knowingly transport a hunter, angler or trapper on a closed road. This recommendation was initiated because of concerns from the State Land Office and a local rancher experiencing uncontrollable, high volumes of hunter traffic in the Corona, New Mexico Area. Since that time, the Department has analyzed the problem and is bringing forward this recommendation that will benefit public and private landowners alike, by closing the loophole of a driver (which did not possess a hunting license) which may drop off, transport or pick up a hunter, angler or trapper from the fields on closed roads.
Commissioner A. Montoya states that the briefing states there is a problem from one local owner in Corona, asks if the problem is limited or is it statewide. Brian Gleadle states this issue does occur statewide. For this particular ranch it does have more than average traffic. Chairman Arvas asks Roy to define a closed road. Roy Hayes a closed road is a road that has been closed by any means. Chairman Arvas asks how do we keep a non-hunter, non-angler, non-trapper from going on this road. Roy Hayes the problems that we have occur during the hunting season, with anglers or trappers. The rest of the year is not really an issue.
John Boretsky Asks about downed game. Believes the regulation allows people to drive off-road to gather downed game. Roy Hayes states if it’s legal from the land management agency to drive off-road then it is legal. Larry Caudill agrees that something needs to be done about the 4-wheelers out there, this is just getting out of control.
MOTION: Commissioner Henderson moved to accept the Department’s recommendation and adopt the changes to the closed road rule. Commissioner Riordan seconded. VOTE: Voice Call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 13 State Game Commission Approval Sought to Sign a Statewide Prairie Dog Memorandum of Understanding
Presented by Chuck Hayes The Department will present an update to the Commission regarding actions involving black-tailed prairie dogs in New Mexico, and to seek Commission input regarding the development and approval of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding prairie dog conservation and management in New Mexico. The purpose of this MOU is to facilitate implementation of the tasks within the Conservation and Management Strategic Plan for Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs in New Mexico. The document was completed as a commitment under the interstate MOU regarding black-tailed prairie dogs, which was signed by the Department in February 2000. This plan contains the following goal:
To determine and achieve an appropriate balance of conservation and management
of black-tailed prairie dogs on state and federal lands in New Mexico, and to coordinate
these activities with voluntary conservation and management of this species on state
trust and private lands. It is intended that conservation of black-tailed prairie dogs on
these lands will assure an adequate abundance, distribution, and viability of the species
in New Mexico and preclude need for listing as threatened or endangered under the
Endangered Species Act or under the Wildlife Conservation Act.
The document containing this goal is a product of a multi-entity effort of a group with open membership that has become known as the New Mexico Black-tailed Prairie Dog Working Group. This document is not considered to belong solely to the Department or to any other single participating entity, and has had no formal adoption by any of these entities to date. This MOU is necessary to implement the plan and its state goal, since black-tailed prairie dogs are not formally considered to be protected wildlife in New Mexico, and therefore some of the management items go beyond the authorities of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. The Commission’s approval for the Director to sign this MOU would begin a signatory process for other cooperating entities listed on the signature block at the end of the document.
The Department’s recommendation is for the Commission to direct the Director to sign the Memorandum of Understanding. The Department would then coordinate an effort to formally contact other cooperating entities to solicit additional signatures to this agreement. Action that could be implemented under this MOU would help to direct appropriate management actions for black-tailed prairie dogs in New Mexico, and to help achieve the goal of the state working group, and the working group’s plan, as listed above. By necessity, this process has been conducted in a collaborative manner involving a variety of parties. Because the black-tailed prairie dog is not listed as a protected game species in New Mexico, many of the items within both the interstate MOU and the statewide conservation and management strategy are outside of the authority of the Department. For example, New Mexico statutes provide direction to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture regarding the management of damage to crops or other lands by prairie dogs. Because black-tailed prairie dog colonies also provide habitat for a variety of other grassland wildlife, they are also a consideration for agencies with a mandate to manage lands for multiple uses that include wildlife habitat. As a tool to help implement the statewide conservation strategy, the Department coordinated with the working group to develop a draft, state-level MOU that affirms each entity’s commitment to assist in achieving the goal of the working group as it relates to prairie dog conservation and management. All of the participating entities have previously reviewed the draft MOU, and most of them expressed their willingness to sign the MOU. Because several agencies have experienced changes in their leadership positions, there may be some minor changes between the attached draft of the MOU, and the final version that is prepared for signature. However, even with changes in administration, most of the cooperating agencies continue to be generally supportive of the concepts expressed within the MOU.
Implementation of this MOU and the working group’s plan could eventually lead to removal of the black-tailed prairie dog from the list of species as a formal candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. Achievement of the actions and standards contained within the plan are believed to be sufficient to warrant removal of the black-tailed prairie dog as a federal candidate species. However, it would be difficult to demonstrate that these prairie dog conservation actions have been implemented and institutionalized to a sufficient extent to justify removal of the black-tailed prairie dog as a candidate species at this time. Signing of the MOU by the multiple cooperators would be a tangible accomplishment that could demonstrate progress toward future removal of the species from the federal candidate list.
Commissioner Henderson asks if the Department has the money and staff to perform these services. Chuck Henderson states that he feels we need the collective resources to get some of these things done. This MOU will give us the means we need to work on the projects.
MOTION: Commissioner J. Montoya moved to approve the MOU regarding prairie dog conservation and management in New Mexico. Commissioner A. Montoya seconded motion. VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 14 State Game Commission Approval Sought for Activities on Commission-Owned Properties
Presented by Lisa Kirkpatrick Department is seeking approval for the following projects:
Commissioner Riordan asks when the rates were established. Lisa Kirkpatrick states she is not sure, but thinks the State Land Office just re-did their fees 5 or 6 years ago. Commissioner Riordan states he does not feel we are charging enough for these companies to go across our property. Lisa Kirkpatrick states we feel the same and when we create our own fee schedule we will charge considerably more. We were just using the State Land Office’s schedule because we did not have anything else to go by. Commissioner Riordan states his feelings are we are granting for the sum of $4,130.63 for someone to drop a well on our property and go across it. Feels that we are placing the burden on the backs of the sportsmen to cover our expenses. Commissioner Henderson has concerns and would be more comfortable if there were other fee schedules to look at; feels we are low-balling it and feels we need to increase the fees. When the Department receives these he would like to know if we have flexibility on these requests, does not feel that we can deny access but does feel that we have control over what is done on our properties. Commissioner A. Montoya asks how the Department uses Springer Lake. Lisa Kirkpatrick states the lake is owned by Springer Ditch Company, we have leased this lake for 20 years now. Commissioner A. Montoya asks how long would it take for us to research comparable rates on these issues. Lisa Kirkpatrick responded she was not sure.
Larry Caudill Well pads also have roads, these roads are used constantly. If there is constant use it then interrupts the wildlife movement. If the leases are granted then we need to have really tight access.
Lisa Kirkpatrick states we have looked at that and have done appraisals and have purchased back those pieces of property where the towers are so that they are completely state owned, there is no federal dollars involved. Commissioner Henderson agrees with Commissioner Riordan and would like to have some other fees to compare the State Land Offices fees to, feels that we need to be conscientious of how much we charge because we are using sportsman dollars and we need to maximize this. Lisa Kirkpatrick states that these towers already exist, these are not for new towers, they are for renovation of existing towers.
Commissioner A. Montoya asks how the Department uses Springer Lake. Lisa Kirkpatrick states that this is a little different. The lake is owned by Springer Ditch Association and the Department has leased the lake for fishing access over the last 20 years. This lease expired on June 30 and we were able to get a 90-day extension from the Springer Ditch Company. Director Thompson states there are many options and one option is that you could request that staff research more appropriate fees.
MOTION: Commissioner Riordan moved to approve Item E and that we send back A,B,C,D for further review. Commissioner A. Montoya seconded.
Commissioner J. Montoya agrees that we need to research for more correct fees and to review the literature on the types of damage that towers do to the surrounding habitat. Lisa Kirkpatrick states the towers listed as items C & D are in operation. Chairman Arvas states we would make it retroactive. Commissioner J. Montoya states we also need to leave it open as to the possibility they may need to remove the towers.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 15 Update on Coyote Removal Activities for Deer Management
Presented by Luis Rios Contract trappers have been utilized to remove coyotes from areas where deer management has been emphasized (i.e. game management units 5B, 10, 17, 23, 30, 37 and 56). The intended purpose of removing coyotes is to reduce predation on deer fawns, with the ultimate expectation of increasing deer population densities. The Department updated the Commission about coyote removal activities, including costs, results and future plans. In summary, during 2000-2003, a total of 1,334 coyotes were removed from these units by contract trappers, a total approximate cost of $292,000, averaging $219 per coyote taken. Conversely, aerial deer population survey results have indicated no appreciable population changes in all units, with the exception of unit 23, where a significant increase in the population estimate was detected after the first survey season. However, it is believed that this change was due to the difference in how the survey itself was conducted, and not due to an actual population increase.
Chairman Arvas asks if there was a performance based measure. Barry Hale states we required they spend 40 hours a week and 160 hours a month, they had to fill out reports. Commissioner Riordan asks what has been the decline in the deer population from year to year. What is the percentage of decrease per year. Luis Rios states that in these management units we have not seen an increase or a decline. We have conducted surveys and those were mainly focused on herd populations. Commissioner Riordan actually feels that the coyote control was working because we have not had a decline in these areas.
Commissioner Henderson asks if the money we have budgeted for FY04 can be spent elsewhere. Would like to see the money be used for habitat. Commissioner J. Montoya understands there is a variety of things that can affect deer, but wants to know if Barry has an opinion as to what we should do. Barry Hale states that yes we need to work on the habitat. The Department has very little control on the habitat, we own a very small portion of land in the state. We have to work with the private landowners and other agencies.
Jim Bailey states that it is not clear to him if coyote control will help deer or not. Is not sure that coyote populations were even reduced. You need to work on habitat and the Department needs to do better than this. States they have been doing this type of thing for decades and decades and they are still having the same arguments as when he was a student. RL Possey states that if these contractors were paid per pelt, he can guarantee that they would have taken a lot more coyotes than they did. John Boretsky states the Deer Action Management study that was passed out to the Commissioners is the parent of the predator study that is now being discussed. Agrees with Mr. Possey in that there needs to be more incentive for the trappers. If the Department would have set a $10 bounty on each coyote they would have gotten a better deal than what we paid for. Mr. Ferranti represents Double H Ranch and feels that this is a good plan. They are heavy in predator control on the Double H. Agrees that habitat and weather have a lot to do with the fawn counts. Caren Cowan states that this was an incredible amount of money spent for the small return that we got. Feels it is time to look at some other issues. Wants to know what is wrong with the bounty and allowing sportsmen to take care of the coyotes. There was a letter from the varmint hunters earlier, let them help.
Chairman Arvas asks what we are doing with Wildlife Services these days. Luis Rios states we have a contract with them to help respond to depredation complaints and beavers. Commissioner Riordan agrees with John Boretsky we need to have an incentive built in. Richard Becker supports Jim Bailey’s comments. We are all concerned with wildlife in New Mexico and we will be for years to come. He understands this is concerning deer, but he would like to know how are coyotes affecting the antelope. Luis Rios states that coyotes are affecting antelope pretty much the same way they are the deer, we have not really studied the effects of coyotes on antelope there is no data at this point. Commissioner Riordan just wanted to point out that Luis has his hands tied by directives from the former commission, this is not his baby and that we should not shoot the messenger. Commissioner A. Montoya agrees in not killing the messenger and did not hear anything against predator control. Did not see where the study pointed that this Commission wanted to do away with it. Would not like to lose this tool and lose the money, would like to come back pretty soon with a better plan and that we have a better control group and not spread ourselves so thin with so many units. Commissioner J. Montoya states there is potentially one motion in front of them to continue this particular project, but there is also great interest in understanding the problems with deer herds in this state. Barry Hale states that this has been referred to as a study, this was never in any way designed to be a study. We are suggesting to keep predator control as a tool in the tool box, we would like to evaluate predator control and then come back with a presentation to get approval for. We are not suggesting to approve this project or getting rid of it entirely.
MOTION: Commissioner Riordan makes motion to not get rid of the program, but does not want to fund it either. Instructs the Department to come back to the Commission with something that makes good common sense. Commissioner A. Montoya seconded the motion.
Luis Rios states this is not a regulatory change and the amount in the budget for FY04 is about $82,000.
Commissioner Henderson does not want to get rid of any of the tools, but also feels it is appropriate to cease this program. Does not feel it was designed to give any information other than to kill coyotes.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken Commissioner J. Montoya was against the motion. Motion passed.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 16 Big Game Rule for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 for Private Land Elk Ranch Only Hunting (220.127.116.11 G, NMAC and 18.104.22.168 G, NMAC) Open for Amendment
Presented by Luis Rios Ranch-only elk hunting has extended season lengths that do not follow public hunt season in order to allow private landowners the flexibility to harvest elk when elk are present on their ranches and when most adaptable to ranch operations. While in previous years private ranch-only hunt dates, as well as some public hunts, extended until the end of March, significant public concerns were voiced about the harvesting of cow elk in late stages of pregnancy. In order to ease those public concerns, as well as to minimize disturbance primarily to wild ungulates, resulting from extended hunting periods, the 2003 2005 ranch-only elk hunt dates were set to end on January 31. Likewise, public hunt periods were not offered later than late January. Some private landowners have expressed concerns about their ability to harvest cow elk within the current ranch-only season structure. Their concerns indicate that cow elk are not readily accessible on their properties until the January/February time frame and would like to extend the closing date to the end of February.
Chairman Arvas just wanted clarification in that there is a public perception when we say “extend the private season by a month” the perception is that we may harvest more cows than if we didn’t extend the dates. Wants to make sure that it’s true that the number of authorizations is already numbered and we are not increasing the number of permits, just extending the dates. Luis Rios states this is correct. Chairman Arvas states that we have also been critical of the private ranch owners for not harvesting more cows and that maybe this will get them to increase these numbers. Luis Rios states this is also correct and points out that the private land cow harvest is below what we would like for it be.
Caren Cowan feels that if a few more cows were taken then some of the depredation problems may go away. They support this and hopes the commission will approve it as well. John Boretsky states the outfitters in Unit 4, in cooperation with the landowners and Department they have reduced the number of elk tags in order to try and raise the quality of the area as a trophy bull area. States it does not make sense to reduce the number of permits and take the economic hit that comes with reducing the number of permits and then extend the season. Asks that if the Commission passes this they would like to have Unit 4 excluded and keep that close date as January 31. Lucia Montoya agrees with John Borestky and with regard to Unit 4 they would like to cut off Unit 4 and end the season as earlier agreed. Larry Caudill states the previous Commission was overly solicitous of landowner interests, this is the kindest way he can put it. The landowners got what they wanted and it was out of control. There is already a 150 day window for the landowner hunts.
MOTION: Commissioner A. Montoya supports to approve the recommendation for 2003 2004 in light of the LOSS committee and also would like to exempt Unit 4. Motion is only for this year’s season. Commissioner Riordan seconded.
Commissioner Henderson is uncomfortable with the process and is not convinced that there is something broken that needs to be fixed. We are only one year out until we review the regulations. We have a review of the LOSS system going on. Feels the commission is setting a precedence for a lot of other changes. Commissioner J. Montoya agrees the Commission has been here for 8 months and feels that they have directed the Department to come to the Commission with overall comprehensive decisions. Is uncomfortable with making these decisions when there was a 6-month public comment period, she would like to get away from making these types of changes. Director Thompson feels this is actually a logical thing to occur, it is a clean up item. Thought it was a realistic request and that there is not any biological issues. Commissioner Riordan agrees in part with Commissioners Henderson and J. Montoya, but he does think that it adds economic value to the Ranch-Only permits. Luis Rios states that Mike Morrow who is a landowner in Unit 4 has actually been discussing this with the commission for longer than 6 months.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. Commissioner Henderson was against the motion. Motion passed.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 17 Valley Game Birds shooting preserve application.
Presented by Roy Hayes States there is one correction in the title, this is not the Valley Game Bird Shooting Preserve it is the Lewis shooting preserve. Steve and Stacy Lewis of Artesia, NM, have submitted an application for a shooting preserve permit for the Lewis Ranch in accordance to 17-3-35 through 17-3-42, NMSA, 1978 Compilation (Regulated Shooting Preserve Act) and 19.35.3 NMAC, Shooting Preserves. The property manager intends to release pheasants, chukars, and scaled quail onto the preserve if approved. SE Area personnel have inspected the property as per the application and agree that the application meets the terms of law and rule. The property is composed of 5280 contiguous acres of private land.
Commissioner Riordan asks about the birds they will be releasing. Roy Hayes states pheasants, chukars and quail. Commissioner Riordan understands the shooting preserves are good for the economy.
MOTION: Commissioner Riordan makes a motion to approve the shooting preserve. Commissioner J. Montoya seconds motion.
Commissioner J. Montoya asks where the hatchery for scaled quail is. Is there any screening if they are imported from out of state. Roy Hayes states there is an import law and the birds must be certified disease free. Thinks there are some hatcheries within the state where quail can be purchased.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 18 Reservation of 2 Elk Licenses for Nonprofit Wish-Granting Organization
Presented by Pat Baca The Department is recommending that the commission award 2 elk licenses through the Hunt of a Lifetime Foundation as per a new law enacted July 1, 2003. Under 17-3-13.5 NMSA 1978, the State Game Commission is directed to reserve no more than 2 elk licenses a year to persons under the age of twenty-one who have been determined by a physician to have a life-threatening illness and who have been qualified through a nonprofit wish-granting organization.
Currently Hunt of a Lifetime is the only organization to submit two names to the Department that meet the statutory criteria. The names submitted:
Justin Trotter, 5125 Slater Road, Anderson, SC 29621; DOB 7/17/89; 864-231-7850 (phone): Bone Cancer-Leg Amputation.
Brittany Zebrasky, PO Box 656, Hartland, WI 53029-0428; DOB 5/16/95; 262-369-0428 (phone): Brain Cancer.
The Department is bringing forward the recommendation as hunting season will soon begin and it will give the young hunters time to make preparation and proper arrangements through the organization or on their own. Hunt of a Lifetime sponsored this bill in conjunction with the New Mexico Conservation Officers’ Association.
Chairman Arvas where is it planned for the licenses to be used. Pat Baca states they are hoping the licenses will be used in the SW Area.
MOTION: Commissioner A. Montoya makes a motion to approve the recommendation for the Hunt of a Lifetime. Commissioner Henderson seconds.
VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 19 COMMISSION/DEPARTMENT DISCUSSION
Presented by Jane MacCarter States that starting in October 2003 individuals can order a wildlife license plate for 2004 may do so via internet, by phone or in person at a NM MVD office. An information sheet is available on how to order. This is the first year and the plate will cost $25 in addition to the regular license fees with $15 to the Share With Wildlife Program and $10 to MVD. In subsequent years the renewals will only cost $10 and the money will go directly to Share With Wildlife.
Chairman Arvas states that Commissioner Riordan was under the assumption that there would be 2 plates. Jane MacCarter responds not at this time. Chairman Arvas asks how much more difficult would it be to have 2 plates. Jane MacCarter states it all depends on how much money the Department is willing to put forth. It would run around $8,000 or $9,000 to start. Other states have gone on to 3 or more plates. Chairman Arvas states that the elk may bring in more money, but apparently the committee did not think so.
Presented by Jane MacCarter In 1994 the first edition of the NM Wildlife Viewing Guide was published. It was a cooperative project between several agencies. In 2000 a second edition was printed and the Department has now sold out of those. There has been discussion about creating a 3rd edition which would provide additional information promotion, rural tourism, and rural economic development in NM. It would cost $40,000 to completely produce a new expanded version of the guide, however, only a portion projected at $15,000 would have to be covered by Game and Fish and this could come out of FY05 funding, which would be available after July 2004. An amount of $5,000 is currently available from private sources to initiate the project at any time. Now together with our agencies $15,000 another $20,000 still need to be pledged from the various partner agencies and if this project is approved and initiated by our Director that would mean we would begin contacting previous partners and other new partners to see about getting pledges from them. Commissioner Henderson states this has been a tremendous seller. Visitors, tourists and locals have expressed a great appreciation for this. Feels that even though there are multiple partners it is recognized as a Game and Fish product simply because of the wildlife. From both Audubon and Commission standpoint he would greatly support this. Chairman Arvas asks if a person buys a plate this year for the $25 fee and if we introduce a new plate next year is it $25 again. Jane MacCarter states she is not sure and that would need to be worked out.
Presented by Elise Goldstein Has distributed the Desert Bighorn Sheep Recovery Plan. Is just informing the Commission to view the report. From 1995 to 2002 states the Department has used the Long-Range Plan for Desert Bighorn Sheep management in New Mexico as our guiding plan, this expired in 2002. When we began revising the plan we found that the Wildlife Conservation Act has some fairly specific guidelines for recovering endangered species including the need to have a recovery plan as opposed to a long-range plan. We have had some public meetings throughout the state and we have also discussed economic impacts. As a result of these meetings we have established an advisory committee and there were 12 people appointed to the committee. Would like to request that this topic be placed on the next commission agenda for approval.
Presented by Elise Goldstein With regards to the bighorn sheep transplant, we trapped 16 sheep and all personnel and sheep came out of the trap as good as they went into it. However we were a little disappointed that we did not trap as many sheep as we wanted. We have never trapped out of Wheeler Peak before, so it was experimental. The sheep have been released in Arizona and they are doing well. States the Pecos trap will take place the week of September 22 and the length will be contingent on the weather.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 20 GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENTS
R.L. Possey states the Otero County Commission has created an advisory board. Has invited the Game Department to attend the meetings and they plan on being an active group. Will get copies of the ordinance to the commissioners. Feels a small license fee increase would be okay, it is just part of hunting. States he looks at the proclamation as a hunting guide and the Commission needs to stick with it as much as they can, he understands that changes may happen as conditions happen.
Jim Bailey regarding livestock on the Diamond Bar allotment and its effects on wildlife, especially Gila Trout. The National Wildlife Federation and the NM Wildlife Federation are intervening in a lawsuit to require continued compliance with a court injunction from a few years ago to remove livestock on the Diamond Bar allotment. The cattle were returned last June and are still there today. States that Gila Trout habitat is in jeopardy. The Gila Trout are federally and state listed, the Department has expended considerable resources toward the Gila Trout recovery and what is happening on the Diamond Bar is jeopardizing the recovery. He requests that NM Department of Game and Fish also intervene in this lawsuit to protect the public’s interest and investment on the Diamond Bar allotment.
Douglas Jeffords of Truchas Trout Unlimited Explained to the Commission that his organization’s goal is to improve the quality of trout fishing in New Mexico and to support efforts to restore native fish where ever that is appropriate in the watersheds. Strongly support efforts to restore Gila Trout and they are very heavily involved with Cutthroat Trout restoration. Last month the SFNF issued the draft management plan for the Pecos river, they support the draft plan from the Forest Service.
Chairman Arvas states that the Valles Caldera has invited the Commission to go visit the site. Asks Director Thompson to make the arrangements. Director Thompson reminds everyone that the State Game Commission Short Course will be held on September 17 & 18 in Las Cruces.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 21 ADJOURN
MOTION: Commissioner J. Montoya makes a motion to adjourn. Commissioner A. Montoya seconds. VOTE: Voice call vote taken. All present voted in the affirmative. Motion carried.
Meeting Adjourned at 5:35 pm.
Bruce C. Thompson, Secretary to the Date
New Mexico State Game Commission
Tom Arvas, Chairman Date
New Mexico State Game Commission
Transcribed by: Kelly Muniz