UPDATED: April 13, 2004
NEW MEXICO STATE GAME COMMISSION
New Mexico Department of Public Safety
4491 Cerrillos Road/Training Academy Auditorium
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87507
January 15, 2004
9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 1. Meeting Called to Order.
Meeting called to order at approximately 9:17 a.m.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 2. Roll Call.
Director Thompson called Roll:
Chairman Arvas – Present
Vice-Chairman Alfredo Montoya – Present
Commissioner Henderson – Present
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya – Present
Commissioner Pino – Absent (Commissioner Pino subsequently arrived during Item No. 5)
Commissioner Riordan – Present
Commissioner Sims – Present
Director Thompson stated a quorum was present.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 3. Introduction of Guests.
Director Thompson introduced 2 employees in new roles with the Department, Mr. Bill Parras, Assistant Director for Support Services, and Mr. R. J. Kirkpatrick, Chief of the Wildlife Management Division.
Commissioner Arvas requests that members of the audience (approximately 75) introduce themselves.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 4. Approval of Minutes (November 13, 2003).
Commissioner Sims moved to accept the Minutes of the November 13, 2003 State Game Commission Meeting as presented. Commissioner Riordan seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 5. Approval of Agenda.
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya moved to accept the Agenda for the January 15, 2004, New Mexico Game Commission Meeting as presented. Commissioner Riordan seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 6. Consent Agenda.
§ Quarterly Depredation Report
Dan Brooks The Department provides list of people that have been properly
noticed pursuant to Revocation Rule 19.31.2.
Commissioner Sims moved to approve the Department’s recommendation on revocation assessment under Revocation Rule 19.31.2 NMAC. Commissioner Riordan seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
Brandon Griffith The Department presents the Quarterly Depredation Report
as required by Rule 126.96.36.199 NMAC. The report is a compilation of the number
of complaints received by the Department through the Second Quarter of FY
‘04, which would be from October 1 through December 31 and as Attachment
#2 there are a number of interventions that the Department has entered into
for each complaint.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya moved to accept the Quarterly Depredation Report as submitted by the Department. Commissioner Henderson seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 7. Election of Game Commission Chairman and Vice Chairman.
Presented by Game Commissioners. - State Game Commission members considered nominations and elected a Chairman and Vice Chairman for 2004 per regulations for State Game Commission action.
Commissioner Arvas Thanked the Department and the Commission for the support rendered to him.
Commissioner Arvas Moved to nominate Guy Riordan as Chairman of the State
Game Commission. Commissioner Sims seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Sims moved to nominate Alfredo Montoya as Vice-Chairman of
the State Game Commission. Commissioner Riordan seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Riordan At this time I thank Chairman Arvas for what he’s done
in our transition. We came in and as Commissioners had no experience and
Commissioner Arvas led us through this first year and I want to thank him
personally for everything he’s done. The Director has a few words he’d like
to say also.
Director Thompson I simply wanted to mention that in recognition of a good bit of service from Dr. Tom Arvas as the Chairman, we have a plaque from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish which reads, “Dr. Tom Arvas – Recognizing Service to New Mexico Wildlife Conservation, Chairman, New Mexico State Game Commission, January, 2003 – January, 2004.” Thank you, Dr. Arvas.
Commissioner Arvas Once again I’d like to thank not only the Commission and the Department but also the Public for making my tenure as Chairman a very enjoyable one. It was a very difficult one in terms of the transition, but I think we’re over the hump now and ready to go on to bigger and better things. With that, the Chairman has asked me to go ahead and carry out my duties as Chairman for this meeting.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 8. Designate Reasonable Notice to the Public for Commission
Meetings during 2004.
Presented by Jim Karp. - Section 188.8.131.52.A(1) of the Administrative Code requires the Commission to take action at its first annual meeting to continue or amend its existing practice to determine what is reasonable notice of Commission meetings under NMSA Section 10-15-1D of the Open Meetings Act. The Department suggests that the presently existing notice criteria in the regulations be adopted as reasonable notice for 2004. Section 184.108.40.206 NMAC provides that as to regularly scheduled meetings that at least 10 days prior to the meeting notice be delivered to major newspapers, radio stations, wire services, and television stations. Special notice needs to be delivered to those media at least 3 days prior to the special meeting, and with respect to emergency meetings at least 24 hours prior notice to the Associated Press by telephone and, if possible, to present a news release faxed or hand-delivered to at least 1 newspaper of general circulation.
Commissioner Arvas Have we had any problems with the scheduling?
Jim Karp Not that I’m aware of.
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya moved to approve the schedule that’s been presented
and let it serve as our Open Meetings Act resolution for the year 2004. The
recommendation of the Department contained in Section 220.127.116.11 as reasonable
notice requirements to the public as applied to public meetings held by the
Commission for the Year 2004. Commissioner Sims seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
Director Thompson Beginning this month, we have piloted a new process of placing the bulk of the Commission Agenda on the Department Website to enable the public to gain more advance information. If the public will indulge us with a few months’ of learning some of the twists and turns of the process, we think we’re largely there. That’s something the Commission has requested before so we’ll look forward to reporting back periodically on the success.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 9. Approval of FY 2003 Audit Report.
Presented by Pat Block. - The Department will present the FY2003 Audit Report, as released by the State Auditor, for approval by the Commission in accordance with 18.104.22.168.K(d) NMAC, 4-30-03.
Pat Block Our intent was to present the report for approval at this meeting; however, the State Auditor has not finished the review of the report. Audit Report does not become public until 10 days have passed from the time they release the report. The State Auditor and his Deputy informed me that the first and second reviews have been done and today the report will go back to our contract audit firm for changes, corrections and just go over the comments from the State Auditor’s Office. We’ll be able to present that at the next regularly scheduled Commission meeting because we have neither the released report nor the 10-day wait that’s required. At this time I respectfully request that the item be tabled until the next meeting.
Commissioner Pino moved to table the decision on the Department’s Audit
Report for Fiscal Year 2003. Commissioner Alfredo Montoya seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 10. Correct Discrepancies in Big Game Rule.
Presented by R.J. Kirkpatrick. - Big Game Rule 19.31.8 NMAC will be open to correct minor discrepancies in antelope, deer, and elk season dates and license availability to ensure consistency and enforcement of information provided to hunters for the 2004-2005 season.
R. J. Kirkpatrick When we presented the big game rule recommendations to
the Commission in Portales, some date adjustments didn’t get made in the
second year of the regulation and some maximum permit numbers didn’t get
carried over properly as the recommendation intended. This is just an attempt
to clear that up. You were provided with 1 attachment that lists each of
the hunts that were affected by this oversight and the Department is asking
that you adopt the current recommendation. The changes are in the 2004-2005
year of the Big Game Rule, if you have any questions on any of those line
items or hunts.
Commissioner Arvas How does this affect the hunts that are in progress now?
R. J. Kirkpatrick It won’t affect them at all. The hunts that are currently going on were the first year of the 2-year regulation of the 2003-2004 hunt structure.
Commissioner Sims Have you had feedback from the public or the hunters in the field about this?
R.J. Kirkpatrick No, we haven’t had any public input because it was an in-house oversight. The public was involved in the development of the recommendation that was provided to the Commission at the Portales meeting where the Commission adopted both years of this regulation. This is an oversight in shifting the dates and shifting the intended permit numbers to the second year of the regulation so the public was involved in the development early on, but not involved in this oversight adjustment.
Commissioner Sims How would this relate to what the public and the hunters at the Portales meeting were wanting? Will it readjust their thoughts?
R.J. Kirkpatrick No, sir. I don’t think it will affect them. The public involvement that took place prior to the adoption of the current Big Game Rule was a significant effort and there was consensus that that regulation was what people were involved in and this is simply to make sure that it reflects what we all agreed upon.
Valerie Williams I just wanted to comment on the late hunt in Unit 52 under all sporting arms. It’s suggested to me that that should be pushed back. The snow and the winters haven’t been very rigorous and the elk don’t move down until later and so I was wondering if we could change that November 22-26 to November 26-30. Pushing it 5 days later so your hunt ratio will be better, the animals will move down and you’ll fill your permits.
R.J. Kirkpatrick Unfortunately the opening of the Big Game Regulation currently is to correct the oversights. The Department is not prepared, nor have we previously talked to any other hunters about adjusting the management goals and the hunt dates for the multitude of hunts that are reflected in our Big Game Rule, but we would appreciate this lady giving us input towards the development of the next Big Game Regulation which is to start taking place this spring.
Commissioner Arvas I’ve made comments in the past about how in the “old days” we always had a representative from BLM or the Forest Service come to Game Commission meetings and we sorely miss their presence.
John Boretsky I’m with the New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides. This year the archery elk season begins the 28th of August and ends on the 16th of September. What we’re asking for is that the season be extended 4 days to the 20th. This is in keeping with the extension that you did on private land this year so I don’t believe there’s a conflict with the proclamation. I think that it would end up with a better hunting opportunity for all archers that draw and I think that we would also have more of a chance to reach harvest goals. I’m asking that you extend the season by 4 days from the 16th to the 20th, and believe me we will work to make sure we don’t start in the middle of August.
R.J. Kirkpatrick The Department’s aware that there are some concerns from our bow hunting public. Again, to remind the Commission, the Department’s already printed approximately 300,000 copies of the Rules and Information Booklet. The RIB is on our website, databases have been loaded that allow us to generate license sales at area offices and in Santa Fe, so it would be a big challenge for the Department to make any adjustments at this late date, but I invite John and any archery hunters to visit with us about the big game regulation process that we’re going to begin this spring.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya We’ve been taking public comments on the deer season throughout last year, is that also for the next round of regulations?
R.J. Kirkpatrick We’ve historically had great frustration being able to get as much public input as we would like in the development of recommendations for the hunting of deer and elk. We’ve attended numerous meetings where the public is interested in deer hunting, so it’s a pre-emptive effort to get as much input from hunters as possible, and we’ll build some hunt structures which will be available for public input in contacting people and building their interest in helping us develop for next year.
Commissioner Arvas Would you explain to the public how we do our 2-year cycle and what that cycle entails?
R.J. Kirkpatrick Our big game process operates on a 2-year cycle. The Commission will open the Big Game Regulation in March and the public will comment on development of hunt structures for all big game species for the following 2 years, fall of 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons. The Department’s developed hunt recommendations, and hunt structures as currently in our regulation. We’ve asked the public about what they’d like to see in this unit on species, kinds of weapons, and kinds of hunts. The public involvement process will happen, draft regulations developed, and the public will get to look at those draft regulations. I don’t know when the Commission will make a final decision on the adoption of those regulations prior to Commission adoption in fall 2004. There’s great opportunity for public involvement. The Wildlife Management Division intends to put information on the website once we know the schedule of meetings.
Larry Caudill I concur with R.J.’s recommendations. I remind you there’s an interim period between the archery hunt and muzzleloader hunt and if that 4 days comes off, that does a disservice to the muzzleloader hunt.
Commissioner Pino moved to accept the proposed changes as presented by the
Department to correct oversights in the current Big Game Rule 19.31.8 NMAC.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 11. Fee Schedule for Current and On-Going Commercial Activities
on Commission-Owned Properties.
Presented by Jeff Pederson. - The Commission considered a rate schedule for commercial activities occurring on Commission-owned property. These activities include oil and gas development, utility and access easements, and communication towers.
Jeff Pederson I’m the Land and Realty Specialist with the Department. Last
August the Commission requested a new fee structure with higher rates so
we investigated to come up with higher rates. Commissioner Sims was very
helpful in providing information on the oil and gas business. We used radio
tower and broadcast tower information from State Land Office, which was upgraded,
but what you have before you is our proposal. We’ve suggested the terms be
changed. In the past, we had 35-year terms for these, so we’d go to 10-year
terms with the ability to add 5 years renewal plus 5 years renewal so that
over a period of 20 years you’d essentially be renegotiating or charging
new rates so that would provide the Commission with new revenue. Staff Attorney,
Jim Karp, has rewritten the tone and details of the agreements to protect
the legal interests of the Commission. We’d like to collect the fee for 10
years. We don’t want to get into a cycle of billing people so much per year,
10 payments, so we’re proposing these up-front fees. In some cases, under
the next agenda item, that could be 10 years with a broadcast tower. You
might be looking at $25,000 so be aware that these could be significant up-front
fees. You may also know that in the San Juan Basin we have properties with
wells on them and we can anticipate more development requests, more wells,
pipelines and roads because they’re basically a doubling of the spacing of
wells can occur over the last number of years and that essentially is a federal
and state policy change. These are cases where the Commission does not have
the mineral rights. Somebody else does and they’ve the right to develop those
resources. I can go over the recommended fees for each type of activity if
you wish or you can discuss them at the Commission level.
Commissioner Arvas Jeff, could you give us some idea of what the chronological aspects of this recommendation in the Department are in terms of how long these rates have been in effect or were in effect?
Jeff Pederson We’ve used rates that the State Land Office had in place. We’ve been using a 35-years’ term for these types of agreements and we’ve proposed 10 years plus 5 plus 5 so that we can turn this over more quickly.
Commissioner Arvas Would you elaborate on that 10 plus 5 plus 5?
Jeff Pederson If somebody were developing a new road access to get to a new gas well, under the old system, we would have said that’s good for 35 years. Under the new system, we would say that’s good for 10 years but it can be renewed twice at 5 years each time. So, you’re going to get a 20-year agreement; however, each time it’s up for renewal, we would renew it at what rates might be in effect at that time. Possibly, those could be higher market rates so that would be giving more income to the Commission, which is what we understood the Commission wanted.
Commissioner Arvas Would you elaborate on what you said about using the State Land Office rates? Would you tell us how those rates more or less developed?
Jeff Pederson The State Land Office has 13 million acres of surface and mineral-interest land in the state and, of course, they’re charged in the Constitution with getting the best revenue off of that land and most of that money goes to the state schools. We’re in a different situation here and obviously, a much smaller amount of land and different reasons for owning those lands. All microwave and broadcast has been established by them and is available in the New Mexico Administrative Code, and pipelines and well pads, to my knowledge, they do not have yet in the Administrative Code but they’ve customary charges they use. They also have appraisers on staff that go out and adjust this market information and then they come up with rates. So they’ve a full array of rates that they can charge on their lands.
Mike Menkin I’m out of Odessa, Texas and represent Conoco-Phillips but I’m also here representing International Right-of-Way Pipeline Committee. I would like to correct 1 item that was mentioned a while ago. I’m Co-Chairman of the New Mexico State Land Office Rate Establishment Committee. We are very close to adopting a fee schedule across the State of New Mexico. For pipeline, up to a certain inch in diameter and after you reach a certain inch in diameter they’ll go to an appraisal. I’m seeing rates quoted per year and it’s my understanding those are not correct. I’m seeing $400 plus a rod per year for transcontinental pipelines. If you adopt this, we’ll see rates skyrocket across the U.S. Not only are you going to hurt New Mexico’s development, but the entire U.S. because it’s going to be detrimental to the industry. Second, I’ve had items with Conoco-Phillips on the agenda for 6-9 months. We provide all the up-front work for the Commission, try and work with the Commission and we are still waiting and if you want to increase revenue, increase approval time. I want to look at it from an overall perspective, not just a selective part. I want the Commissioners to consider establishing a sub-committee to look at this on a statewide basis and I’d like for you to consider tabling this issue, continue with the rate schedule that you have, but charge a joint committee of industry and the Commission, to help establish a rate that’s reasonable and fair across the board.
Commissioner Arvas Jeff, do you have any comments regarding the rate schedule?
Jeff Pederson All the rate schedule figures were found somewhere. The range of fees was arrived at by talking to federal and state officials, private landowners, and appraisers. In each case, we’re proposing the highest figure we found because the Commission wants to maximize its revenue. The interstate pipeline figure was reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican in August. San Juan Basin rates are between $432 and $455 annually for each rod. That figure was confirmed to me by a Bureau of Land Management official.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya Mr. Pederson, what’s the total surface acreage that the Department owns? Is it about 100,000?
Jeff Pederson The Commission owns approximately 165,000 deeded acres.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya I’m confused that this could impact the national oil and gas economy. It’s impressive that 160,000 acres could have an influence on national oil.
Jeff Pederson The areas where we have that type of development are in Roosevelt County where we have the prairie-chicken areas and there are predominantly oil developments, and then in the San Juan Basin we have about 4,000 acres of what we call Navajo project lands and much of that does have oil and gas.
Commissioner Sims Just to clarify on the per year term. It’s confusing. For example, the pipeline is not $60 a rod per year. That would be $60 a rod per the first term and that term would be a 10-year term with 2 options for 5-years, 2 other 5-year terms and that would be generally tied more than likely to cost-of-living and rate increase and things like that in the last 2 terms. So it’s not $60 per year for 10 years, it would actually be $60 a rod per the first 10-year term. The Commission in representing Game and Fish wants to increase our revenues and protect our lands. We’re looking at long term and rates that have been paid in the past and currently being paid for some time. I think that our rates for pad location are $3,500 and that’s been well below market for some time. We’re looking at Game and Fish properties and those properties are located in pristine or sensitive areas for game, fish, or wildlife. We’re not trying to impact the nation or set precedence for the state Land Office, nor private individuals. I think we’re just trying to look at what’s beneficial for the Department lands and how we intend to protect those and come to terms with a fair market value. We’re not trying to put a burden on Conoco’s talks.
Commissioner Arvas asks “Does that make you feel better, Mike?”
Mike Menkin I would like to address Ms. Montoya first. The comment you made about the nationwide increase is that what you will have is a published rate schedule that will be thrown in the industry’s face everywhere in the State of New Mexico, whether your 100,000 or 60,000 acres or my 7,000 acres. I know what it’s like to deal with oil companies. It will have an impact. Commissioner Sims, no one called me and asked for my rates. No one asked any of the industry partners that I deal with, no one asked the International Right-of-Way Pipeline Committee for rates they pay on transcontinental pipelines. That’s why I’m asking you to please consider that. Let’s look at this and be fair. Yes, you’re only talking 100,000 and I’m not disputing that fact. Yes, I think the $3,500 parallel location needs to be increased, but keep in mind where you own land we have federal oil and gas leases. We have the right to develop with those leases. We have the right to use as much of surface as reasonably possible and we’re going to continue doing that, but we also want to work with the Game and Fish Commission to benefit from that because you do not have minerals.
Commissioner Henderson We have a sheet that has the folks that were contacted to help us come to some conclusion on the rate base here and it does include landowners and oil production folks and federal agencies so, I think we’ve got a good mix of folks that were contacted. The other comment is that the sub-surface mineral resource is held often by a party other than Game and Fish, but the Game Commission has the responsibility to manage our surface resource. That’s why we bought those lands in the first place, and I can’t speak specifically, but I would hope that the federal government would treat the way that they lease sub-surface or they treat their surface rights in relationship to the sub-surface rights on national wildlife refuges different than they would on forest service lands or other BLM lands that haven’t been identified with special and specific resource considerations. That’s our responsibility--to manage the surface resource and so I’m obviously going to be very sensitive to that. Commissioner Sims, you clarified the costs per rod per year on the pipeline category to change it for the 10-year term. Is that true of every category through here? Where it says “per year”, are they all per 10-year term or whatever the term is?
Commissioner Sims On general pipeline contracts and well pad road accesses are actually paid by rod per term.
Commissioner Henderson So we should consider a change of all those?
Commissioner Sims It was intended as per term.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya Throughout the table, Leo?
Commissioner Sims Not so sure. You’ll have to ask the Game Department.
Commissioner Henderson Jeff, can you clarify that?
Commissioner Sims On the navigational aids and the broadcasting stuff I am not so sure how those are operating, but those are per-year terms.
Jeff Pederson We’re proposing yearly costs.
Commissioner Arvas So the only ones that are per term then are which, Jeff?
Jeff Pederson From about the middle down where it starts with electric lines and it goes to the bottom. Those are all State Land Office published rates. Everything else to that point is what we’re talking about changing potentially.
Commissioner Sims From that above, besides the “vibroseis survey” the “compressors” generally are per term but per rod in areas of that nature are generally road access type. When you’re talking about a rod, I think it’s intended in there as $60 per rod per term.
Jeff Pederson We may have misunderstood some of the individual information we were given but whatever action the Commission takes, I would like to make sure I get it clear, absolutely clear, from the Commission what it wishes to do on any of these today.
Commissioner Sims I’ve had discussions with some of the industry people and discussed that with them and that particular is not $40—
Jeff Pederson That’s $60—
Commissioner Sims That’s $60 per rod per term.
Commissioner Arvas So Jeff, if you would make that notation in your copy so we will be aware of that when the final motion is made.
Mr. Gallagher I think with all due respect to Mr. Pederson, the comments that R.J. made before speak exactly why we’re here today. R.J. said that he wanted as much public input as possible. Well, we’re frustrated that we haven’t been given the opportunity. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, which I am the President of, represents 300 companies that produce 99% of all the oil and gas that’s produced in the State of New Mexico. Last year it gave revenues to the State of New Mexico of $1.4 billion or 22% of the total revenue of the General Fund, but yet when it came time to talk about fees that that industry would pay, that industry wasn’t contacted. It is true Commissioner that on the contact list there are 2 companies listed. One company wasn’t contacted and 1 was. Neither of those companies own a pipeline in New Mexico, neither of those companies have operations in southeastern New Mexico. Now, reading from the minutes of your last meeting, Commissioner Henderson said he had concerns and would be more comfortable if there were other fee schedules to look at and Commissioner Montoya said that he wanted to research comparable rates. What I would say to you this morning is that has not been accomplished. Putting a rate schedule together that was on the website and then we had to download it. It says “$60 per rod per year.” It says “$450 per rod per year.” Let me give you an example of $450 per rod per year. What that figures is $145,000 per mile or $24,266 per acre. Now, I understand that you’re saying that no, there was a misunderstanding. I understand that for the 45 minutes before the meeting that an individual commissioner grabbed individual commissioners and went over a new rate schedule. We want to help you accomplish that and for the past 4 months we’ve been helping the State Land Office accomplish that with tens of millions of acres that they have in the state and as Mr. Menkin said, we are very close to having a complete rate schedule. We have undertaken a very comprehensive study at the State Land Office that will involve tens of millions of acres in New Mexico but yet the Game and Fish staff decided they didn’t want a committee, decided they really did not want or did not ask for the input of a broad section statewide of the oil and gas industry and so, what we’re here today to ask you is to just simply table this fee proposal at this time and allow a committee to work through what different states charge, what different areas of the state charge, what you would like to see to be able to maximize your revenues while at the same time protecting the very environmentally sensitive areas that you by statute would protect. We want to help you do that but we think the only way to do that is to have total involvement. I also looked at the list, Commissioner Henderson, and my concern is by talking to members of your staff, an overwhelming majority of the information came from 1 or 2 people and I would suggest to you that those people who have active litigation against the oil and gas industry at this time, have not given you a fair comparative assessment of what the damages should be. Lastly, I would close with New Mexico being a mineral-dominant state, which allows the industry to develop the minerals if they have a lease, even though they don’t have the surface. What is occurring around the country is rates get out of whack, and it has occurred in New Mexico. We do not have to pay the rates that are on the rate schedule. We can file a bond, complete the work, develop the resources and then allow a judge to say what the fair appraisal value is, and I would suggest that all people in the state go judge shopping. I would suggest that there is not a judge in the State of New Mexico that would tell you that a fair appraisal value for land is $145,000 per mile or $24,266 per acre. We respectfully request that this item be tabled at this time to allow for a comprehensive detailed look and allow our industry to be able to help this Commission attain what they would like to and what they are charged statutorily with.
Commissioner Sims Mr. Gallagher, I appreciate that but I do want to reiterate that I have been in contact with you on the phone 4 times doing this rate schedule and during those contacts I have been discussing intently that per year per rod so the $145,000 per mile—you know good and well that we’re talking about fuzzy math. So in the fuzzy math system you do have people that are in litigation but not over rate schedules. I did propose, as you well know, that this was per rod per term. That was very clear. When we talked about a fair and just system it’s not just something that came up overnight that these kinds of rates were being paid. These kinds of rates were being paid voluntarily and without the court system for quite some time. We just want a fair deal with the industry and what land people have been paying and we want a fair shake. In the past few years we haven’t been getting a fair shake. I’ve got a list up here of Burlington Resources where sometimes they pay $500 per location, sometimes they pay $11,380 per location. If somebody is getting $500 a location they’re not getting a fair shake. So that’s what we’re trying to do as a Commission. Where we want to fall in getting the value of our lands we feel is just as valuable as other lands that are charging those rates. As far as help from oil and gas about keeping the environment, I think our Commission is very capable of protecting our environment prior to these rates, which have nothing to do with protecting our environment. It’s just a rate damage schedule. So when we’re talking about $145,000 per mile, it’s fuzzy math. We’re talking about $60 a rod per term for 10 years. We’re not trying to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes. What these rate increases will do for the Game and Fish Department in the next year are very minor adjustments of funds. So we’re not here trying to set a rate standard nationally, for the State of New Mexico, for the State Land Office. We’re dealing for the Department of Game and Fish which naturally has some of the most pristine lands in New Mexico. We want to protect those and if they’re used for development of oil and gas we understand that, but we want our fair shake and we want that done in a system that other people are getting. I’ve had calls literally from 30 oil companies on what’s going on here. Oil companies in New Mexico have known about this. They’ve known about it not just Burlington.
Mr. Gallagher Since Commissioner Sims brought up the conversations I would defer to the attorney or the general counsel. Certainly, we do not talk to individual commissioners of regulatory bodies in the State of New Mexico because it’s ex parte. The reason that we stopped those discussions was because of our concern of ex parte. This is the only published rate schedule that the public has seen. I wouldn’t call that fuzzy math. I would call that exact science. When Commissioner Sims called me last week, he said, “Bob, these rates are wrong. Let me give you the rates that I would agree to. From $455 per rod to $200. From $60 per rod on pipelines to $40. From $10,600 per well to $7,260 per well.” It sounded like we were on the right track until I did the exact math and not fuzzy math. I felt like we ought to be talking and negotiating with the staff and not necessarily maybe in violation of the law with a commissioner who represented less than 15% of the total body of the Commission who then took these and started drawing on the stage beforehand. I’d suggest, just based on the admission that this per year or the terms that are here just says a 10-year term. Doesn’t say options for it. Just based on that alone, I’d suggest that maybe there is fuzzy information out there and based on that, that we ought to at least table it and take a look at it for the next meeting. I’m not sure of the rush and when I’ve brought up to an individual commissioner about the committee, the very comment was that “There will be no committee. We don’t need committees, we don’t need people to tell us what we already know.” I’m not too sure that that’s the best way for you all to have all the information that you need to be able to protect what you’d like to protect.
Commissioner Sims I want to clarify. Bob, you did call me also and asked me about this. It wasn’t me contacting you.
Mr. Gallagher That’s correct, but I’m not under the ex parte rule of the State of New Mexico.
Commissioner Sims There was no ex parte. I told you this is what I would suggest to the Commission about what I was going to do.
John Dimas There’s a thing called free-market system. In business you get the best you can from the project you got. This doesn’t set a precedent in the whole United States because these people have a few acres here in New Mexico that they think that they want control. We got unique acres.
John Zent, General Manager of Compliance, Burlington Resources out of Farmington.
Commissioner Sims is correct. Burlington Resources was 1 of the companies contacted by the Department to ask what we paid for surface damages and we’ve responded specifically to the question we got and the question was “What’s the highest you’ve paid for surface damages” and we told the Department it was over $10,000 for a specific well. What I’ve handed out to the Commission is a schedule showing the last 96 wells Burlington drilled in the San Juan Basin just the total surface damages that we’ve paid to the surface owner for those 96 wells. They average a little under $3,000 per well. We’ve paid as high as $11,000 for a specific well. We’ve paid as low as $300 or $400 for a specific well. In fact, about half the wells on this list are in the $500-$600 range. Those wells are located on federal surface, federal minerals or we have the federal oil and gas lease that gives us the right to enter the land, ingress and egress, bill location, bill pipeline with no compensation to the federal government. Burlington, along with a number of other oil and gas companies, voluntarily pay to the federal government a mitigation fee where the local BLM office can take that money and use that money to fund other services that they don’t have money for. So when you look at a well and say that owner got shortchanged because he only got $400 or $500, I take exception to that. We’re stepping out beyond regulations to do what’s right for the surface owner, be it the BLM or we have no rights, the balance of the wells on the list range from $3,000 up to $11,000. Those high ones, you’ve got irrigated alfalfa fields, 2 of them are within subdivisions, 10-acre mountain lots. We pay the appraised rate. If we can’t reach an agreement, oil and gas industries try to reach an agreement. In the 13 years I’ve been in Farmington, we’ve moved on 1 location without having a surface agreement in place with the surface owner. In that case, the surface owner felt in 40 years he was going to have a golf course on that area and he wanted us paying golf course rates 40 years into the future. We don’t have a surface agreement. Absent that, we believe that the oil and gas industry negotiates in good faith with every surface owner. We’d like to have the opportunity to do the same with Game and Fish, the State of New Mexico. I agree with Mr. Gallagher’s conclusion that with what the State Land Office is working on jointly may be a good proposal and I would offer that this Commission should consider withdrawing this recommendation and reconsidering and moving on with what’s going to be happening on the balance of state lands here.
Kevin Groenewold Executive Vice President and General Manager of the New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperative Association. I represent the 16 distribution cooperatives in New Mexico and we serve about 100,000 square miles in this state and about 22% of the population. Now that means that about 80% of the land area of this state and we serve about 190,000 meters in this state or about 2 meters per square mile and we have about 44,000 miles of line. I found out about this a little late and I don’t have complete information today. We have 44,000 miles of line and a lot of it is in the Roosevelt County area and I contacted my coop down there and going over some of your listed lands there we come up with the following figures to give you some examples of what the impact will be on electric utilities. For a mile of line at $41 per rod, that comes to $13,120 per mile. Now that is a price that is more expensive than it would cost us to construct a mile of single-phase distribution line. As a system average, for every mile of line they have out there in Roosevelt County, we generate about $180 in margins a year. Now, for profit companies, that equates to profits. If we have a thousand miles out there, that’s $180,000 in margins. In the Milnesand areas, that’s about one-fourth, so that’s about $45-$50 per mile of line in margins. Now stack that against a new right-of-way fee that’s going to be $13,120 per mile. Now if you break that down over a 10-year period, we’re looking at $1,312 per mile per year. That’s a factor of about 30 of the margins we make on those lines and that’s going to be a severe impact and severe burden on us. So these are some very severe impacts on rural electric cooperatives. As far as the $41 price, I suspect that you can go over to State Land Office and find that number and as it says in the agenda briefing that this is the highest number that you found. My problem with the $41 is I don’t know what that’s a right-of-way fee for or where it’s at. I have no doubt that it exists but is it for a 20-foot right-of-way for a single-phase distribution line that’s out in the middle of nowhere or is that number a 3-phase high-voltage transmission line that could be in the city limits of Albuquerque. There are very different land value considerations for each of those cases. Now practically speaking, if we have new services out there, it’s the customer’s requirement to obtain the right-of-way. There may be customers out there that if we can’t go around the Game Department’s land economically, they won’t get service. Another thing that would directly impact the Commission is we have services where we serve facilities, irrigation wells, other facilities on the Game and Fish lands. If we’re required to pay this type of rights-of-way and those types of fees, the Public Regulation Commission could haul us in and change our rate schedules that would include those specific dollars for that specific customer if there are no other customers that are affected by that. I would also ask that you put this on hold and give it some more consideration.
Sonia Phillips I represent Xcel Energy or Southwestern Public Service. We’re located in southeastern New Mexico. We have over 100,000 meters in southeastern New Mexico but of interest is that we serve 4 of the larger co-op’s that are in New Mexico and Roosevelt County happens to be 1 of the co-op’s. I would like to say to you that we normally oppose anything that would impact a fee increase or rate increase for our customers not knowing where these locations might be in southeastern New Mexico and just to give you an idea of the area we serve, we serve from Tucumcari north all the way down to Jal all on the east side of the state. I’m sure there are some areas out there that we do serve that would go across Game and Fish. I would just like to ask you to consider tabling this and giving us some time.
Jeff Pederson We’re talking about new agreements that would come to the Commission. We are not talking about electric lines that are already in place whether they be distribution lines or services lines to individuals’ homes that might cross Game Commission property. Something that is already in place, we’re not talking about. We’re talking about new proposals that would come up.
Commissioner Sims Jeff, in these proposed easement fees, we’re also talking about that these fees are base fees. They also can be negotiated individually for specific problems that we run into before the Commission. They can always be negotiated, is that not correct?
Jeff Pederson The fees can always be negotiated, however, that leaves the staff in little more of a precarious situation because it either has a fee structure to follow and apply when somebody has a proposal for the Commission or we don’t.
Commissioner Sims But that can be negotiated along actually what the right-of-way is if it’s not standard to what we’re asking?
Jeff Pederson Anything non-standard would probably have to be negotiated and agreed to by both parties and then brought to the Commission for final action.
Oscar Simpson President of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. The New Mexico Wildlife Federation supports the proposal that is presented to the Commission here for these rate structures and especially as amended or corrected by Mr. Leo Sims. I think we need to maximize our rate structures and fees and to protect wildlife, and that will give us some extra revenues.
Larry T. Caudill I also support the fees as proposed. It’s my view that the oil and gas industry do what the law and public opinion force them to do. There’s also been a lot of controversy in the San Juan Basin area about trespass of deeded surface lands for ranchers. There’re also problems with pits and some that haven’t been taken care of. I’d also like to point out the jewel of our whole system—Valle Vidal—is under threat of this kind of development and how do we put a price tag on that kind of impact.
Commissioner Sims I move to adopt the fee schedule as listed with the correction of being—
Commissioner Arvas Would you go through those corrections so that everybody understands?
Commissioner Sims First correction being in transcontinental pipelines per rod per term; pipeline, no mineral rights would be $60 per rod per term; well pad would be $10,600 per well, there’s no term on that, that’s a 1-time fee; tie pipeline would be $10 per outside diameter in inches per rod per term; new road access would be $40 per rod per term; use of existing roads would be $1,000 per year per location with no term; compressor/other uses would be $700 per year with the terms listed; vibroseis survey would be $15 per acre with the length of term as listed; and the rest of the list down would be as listed.
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya Could I get clarification? The Commissioner mentioned terms but not amounts. You said as listed or are you recommending the first 2 or 3?
Commissioner Sims The transcontinental pipeline would be as listed.
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya $455?
Commissioner Arvas That’s in the form of a motion, do I hear a second?
Commissioner Henderson I’ll second although I would like to have a little discussion.
Commissioner Arvas All right, we have a second.
Commissioner Henderson I’m curious it hasn’t been discussed here yet. Do we have any sort of bonding requirement for mitigation and restoration for these activities?
Jeff Pederson We have not been requiring a bond. My understanding is that the State Land Office often does but we have not been requiring the posting of a bond.
Commissioner Henderson I think we ought to be charging the high end because we’re managing a resource that has special qualities from our perspective and I think from the public perspective but if I hear you correctly, we’re also accepting the liability of cleaning up afterwards.
Jeff Pederson In the agreements when initiated, the company has the responsibility of cleaning and restoring the site when the end of that mineral extraction has come but there is no bond required so we are agreeing to it in writing.
Commissioner Henderson It’s a good-faith effort in that case?
Jeff Pederson Yes, sir.
Commissioner Arvas Commissioner Sims wants to restate the motion.
Commissioner Sims I would like to restate my motion exactly as I made it excluding transcontinental pipelines. The motion would be to accept the proposed easement fees for the State Game Commission, accept the pipeline, no mineral rights, $60 per rod per term; well pad, $10,600 per well with no terms; tie pipeline, $10 per outside diameter in inches, per rod, with terms as listed; new road access at $40 per rod, with terms as listed; use of existing roads, $1,000 per year, no terms; compressor/other uses, $700 per year, terms as listed; vibroseis survey, $15 per acre, terms as listed; electric, fiberoptic or telecom, $41 per rod, with terms as listed; microwave/cellular with tower, $9,885 per year with a 3% increase per year, terms as listed; radio/broadcast, $2,575 per year with a 3% increase per year, terms as listed; navigational aids, $2,265 per year, terms as listed; passive, $1,545 per year, terms as listed; fiberoptic site, $1,030 per year, terms as listed; sub-leases, 25% of rent, terms as listed; fee schedule, $100 per document, no terms.
Commissioner Arvas Does the second accept the restatement?
Commissioner Henderson With clarification. Commissioner Sims, what’s your thinking behind dropping transcontinental pipeline?
Commissioner Sims That would be renegotiated as it arises since we do not have any at this time.
Commissioner Henderson I’m happy to second the motion.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya First I wanted to mention that we all have different skills on this Commission. So, I appreciate Commissioner Sims and his background in this issue to really lead the way and provide us with some information and some expertise. I have a question for Director Thompson. In all the issues that we vote on, we do our best to involve the public. What I’m hearing from our public is that the final analysis is not clear to them and they don’t feel like they’ve been part of the process. It wasn’t a typical Game and Fish public input process. Do you know what’s been done in the past? Should we have had a lengthy public comment period? Is it so different from our typical issues that the process we went through was mainly relying on staff.
Director Thompson The Commission’s breaking new ground here in several respects, but primarily in that a comprehensive fee schedule has not existed previously adopted by the Commission. I’ll simply say that there was not an exhaustive research endeavor performed but rather the staff did what the Commission had asked, which was to examine high-end fees associated with these types of activities and that is what has been presented. I will point out, and I’ll accept responsibility, that we have identified that there are a couple of inconsistencies in the recommended list that was provided and that had to do with the use of the term per year in 2 locations. In effect, I think that the Department staff have done more or less what was requested, which was to briefly research a specific approach rather than to exhaustively examine an across-the-board picture, so whether or not that is viewed as being the correct approach, that was what was done based upon the intent. I hope that characterizes what was done, and because this is breaking new ground, the approach is to present a comprehensive view of a fee schedule that would assist the Department staff in bringing recommendations to the Commission without there being as much uncertainty or negotiation.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya So you just said that there would be less uncertainty but what the discussion I was hearing from Commissioner Sims was that there’s still a great deal of flexibility within the given dollar figure on this schedule. Is that right?
Director Thompson What I intended there, and what we have sought to do, is rather than coming to the Commission with literally every endeavor being a different situation, the intent here in part was to establish a fee structure that would attach to specific types of actions such that when staff developed those recommendations and bring them to the Commission there was simply greater likelihood that they would be acceptable up front because the Commission had already acted upon that structure. Whether or not that’s totally accomplishable, I guess remains to be seen because there have been some questions. We do believe that a basic structure can be identified and, therefore, what we bring to the Commission would up front, make more sense still open to individual questions.
Commissioner Henderson I just want clarification on the last point that you made which is if we adopt this schedule structure, but it may accommodate 80% of the actions that take place on state Game and Fish lands but there is always the option if someone wants to protest this charge they can bring it before the Commission. Does that need to be included in the motion or is that just assumed within regulation?
Commissioner Arvas I think that’s understood. Jeff, would you agree to that?
Jeff Pederson Absolutely. If, for example, somebody says we would like to put in a new well, we have the mineral right to do so, what’s your charge? We tell them whatever you folks adopt. Let’s say it’s $10,600 or it’s $3,500, we give them that figure. If they don’t like that figure, at that point by bringing a written agreement to the Commission for action and design we would arrange for those people to come to a Commission meeting and be on the agenda and they could make their desires known and tell you folks what they think a more appropriate fee is.
Commissioner Pino Essentially the input I’ve heard this morning I really feel that I don’t have all the information. I don’t know what the current fees are, I didn’t have a chance to compare what’s out there now and compare it to what’s being recommended here. I hear that the State Land Office is working on a comprehensive fee schedule. Certainly they have more land than we do and if they’re involved in that process, I feel that there should be some consistency throughout state government. I think there’s that willingness from the private sector—the sector that would be impacted by our changes here—willing to sit down and work with us. They are saying let us help you, let us help each other to come up with something that would be doable. I would feel uncomfortable to go through this change while the State Land Office is still struggling and still working on this issue and I would say maybe we should join forces and figure out how best we can address this issue.
Commissioner Arvas All those in favor of the motion, signify by saying “Aye”. (Aye votes.) All those against? (Nay votes.) I guess we’re going to have to have a roll call vote.
Commissioner Pino I didn’t hear your question.
Commissioner Arvas What I asked for is a vote on the motion as stated by Commissioner Sims. Let’s go ahead and do it by roll call.
Commissioner Henderson Even though I seconded the motion, for the purposes of discussion, I’m voting “No” with explanation. I think that I respect what Commissioner Pino has said in terms of broadening the discussion and paralleling it with the State Land Office discussion. I would have been willing to move ahead with this had I had a chance to ask 1 more question before the vote which is “How soon is the State Land Office process going to be done”, because I don’t want this to drag out. But I also want it to be done in a responsible and respectable manner and so that was the reason I would favor a table for 1 more Commission meeting hoping that we’re paralleling with the State Land Office.
Director Thompson Roll Call Vote:
Commissioner Henderson, No; Commissioner Alfredo Montoya, Aye; Commissioner Jennifer Montoya, No; Commissioner Pino, No; Commissioner Riordan, Aye; Commissioner Sims, Aye; Commissioner Arvas, Aye.
Director Thompson The vote is 4 “Ayes” and 3 “No’s”. The motion carries.
(NOTE: The State Game Commission Chairman placed a moratorium on staff implementation of this fee structure on 3 February 2004 to permit further evaluation of the structure and implications to users. Thus, this structure has not been implemented and will not be used by Department of Game and Fish staff until that evaluation has been completed and further action by the State Game Commission has been considered.)
AGENDA ITEM NO. 12. Approval of Lease Agreements for Commercial Activities on Commission-Owned Property. Presented by Jeff Pederson. - The Commission will be asked to approve requests for 2 oil and gas development leases on its Navajo property and two broadcast transmission tower leases on the Colin Neblett Wildlife Area.
Jeff Pederson There are 4 pending agreements we’d like to bring to the Commission’s
attention today; however, the first 2 I’ve been advised by Conoco-Phillips,
they wish to at this point withdraw their request for those rights-of-way
for 2 well sites for San Juan County. So 2 of the 4 requests on agenda item
No.12 have been withdrawn by the company.
Commissioner Sims Are those 2 Conoco wells proposed drills or already drilled?
Jeff Pederson To my understanding were drilled wells. One is a well site on our property the other is near our property line and there were a pipeline agreement for each site as well as a road access.
Commissioner Arvas So did you want to enlighten the Commission on what the withdrawal means or would you like the gentleman from Conoco-Phillips to do that?
Jeff Pederson I don’t feel comfortable speaking on behalf of Conoco-Phillips beyond what I’ve indicated to you.
Commissioner Arvas Mike, did you want to go ahead and make some comments as to why you’re withdrawing those?
Mike Menkin I decline at this time.
Commissioner Arvas Well we’ve got some public comments on this.
Larry T. Caudill When this item was before the Commission most recently, the concern I expressed was proliferation of roads and whether these lease agreement were accompanied with stringent enough road agreements in terms of road and controls receding and control of public access. I remind you that roads bring road hunting, poaching, and disturbance of wildlife, and if these leases are to be approved, urge the Commission to pay very close attention to the constraints and to access control so that they don’t just become more places for road hunting poaching and on-going disturbance of wildlife.
Commissioner Arvas So, Jeff, just be sure we clarify the first 2 agreements—the ones with Conoco-Phillips are the ones you are withdrawing?
Jeff Pederson Yes, sir.
Commissioner Sims The agreement for the well pad has been withdrawn? Then it’s already been drilled?
Jeff Pederson Yes, sir.
Commissioner Sims Well, how does that work?
Lisa Kirkpatrick I think a lot of us have been involved with different pieces of this and maybe not any one of us knows the whole story, but to the best of my knowledge, what happened was that Conoco-Phillips did drill the well believing that they were somewhere else and when it was discovered that it was Game Commission property—and it actually is something that is not out of the realm of possibility because the property we own in that Navajo nation area is integrated with BLM property and it’s not fenced separately—so our understanding is that they did drill the wells. When they discovered what happened they came to us and told us what had happened and self-identified that they had done this and talked to us about what do we need to do to make this right. So we had an agreement with them for mitigation to make up for what they had done and our intention was to go ahead with the contract and then work out that mitigation deal with them so that’s where that stands.
Jeff Pederson They had agreed to do several thousand dollars worth of mitigation work at other projects that we needed to get done.
Commissioner Sims Several as in—
Jeff Pederson $30,000 or so worth of work and then pay the prevailing fees for the agreements as well. That’s what we were intending to do.
Oscar Simpson New Mexico Wildlife Federation President. Historically, there’ve been abuses in the admission by the Game Department they’re not requiring bonding. I think is a major oversight and actually having reclamation standards to be incorporated in these agreements I think has not been brought out either and that’s 1 of the main things we’re facing now with Otero Mesa and BLM lands and their reclamation standards are inadequate. There’s no reclamation and there’s inadequate bonding if you do go to court. I would suggest that we add some more criteria about what we are going to do about reclamation and make sure it happens.
Commissioner Arvas Jeff, would you like to comment on those 2 parts—the reclamation plus the bonding? Do you feel it’s time to go ahead and change that wording?
Jeff Pederson The reclamation language I think in the new agreements is stronger and much more current than it ever was before and Jim Karp has rewritten those. So, I feel pretty comfortable with the way that sits. In terms of the bonding, that’s an administrative item over the decades and we simply just have never done so.
Commissioner Sims The City of Lovington has just gone through this process with oil and gas industry and actually have their bonding and their criteria to be met on that and I’ve got a copy and it actually did go through the Commission and I’ll share that with you.
Jeff Pederson That would be great and the Commission might also want to see what happens with the State Land Office process, their rates, bonding and so on in the future for other types of items coming to the Commission.
Commissioner Henderson Without making a motion I would certainly like to make the recommendation that the staff look into bonding capacity, regulations, mitigation and restoration standards and just make sure that they’re current with other standards and to just give us an option because I think as we all know, we in New Mexico are being eyed for much more oil, gas and mineral development and I just think we need to be current in the way that we deal with our contracts.
Jeff Pederson The new agreements as we had written them do include words that the reclamation additionally will be as specified by the Commission so that the time that reclamation would be required it would be what the Commission would require at that time not 20 years ago. The status of the 2 that are withdrawn are simply withdrawn, they’ve asked not to be action items at this time. Conoco-Phillips has asked those to be withdrawn.
Jim Karp I believe the question was, given the fact that the 2 well sites are in place and they are not subject to agreement, what do we do now? I think that’s going to depend on some discussions with Conoco-Phillips. In our opinion, they have trespassed notwithstanding their position that they have a right to utilize the surface in order to realize the benefits of their mineral interests. As was mentioned, under the terms of the lease that we had drafted, they were mitigating to pay us for what they had done in putting the wells in without permission. I believe it’s just going to be a matter of discussion in trying to figure out how we handle it. It’s going to be difficult to take any action to have those wells removed at this time.
Commissioner Sims We were in discussion with Conoco-Phillips in the past on that and from my understanding, Conoco-Phillips reckoned that a mistake had been made. I don’t think Conoco-Phillips needs to be brought in because a mistake was made. I think everyone here understands that but I think that the concessions that Conoco-Phillips were considering in the process of doing that, we need to honor those if they’re still willing.
Jim Karp I agree, Commissioner Sims, that’s what I indicated. It will depend on discussions with Conoco-Phillips as to where it goes. I can’t tell you at this point in time what they would be or not be willing to do. Our position is we would hope to continue with the mitigation that they had agreed to, however, that agreement to mitigate was premised on the fact that there would be a lease and apparently there is not going to be a lease, so it’s a matter of negotiation.
John Dimas I got a real problem on this Colin Neblett area where they want to put those towers. Now, if you are going to put roads there you’re going to have erosion, degradation of the habitat. That’s 1 of the best elk areas there is. When you get vehicles in there you’re going to run the elk out. Therefore, I’m totally opposed to putting any towers in that Colin Neblett wildlife area as for trespassing where they have a fuzzy GPS system.
Jeff Pederson As a matter for clarification, let me say that these towers are pre-existing, they were under previous agreement, those agreement terms ran out. We’re proposing no new road and they’ve requested to be allowed to remain there under a new lease at the current rates. There’s no additional disturbance contemplated on those.
Keith Kooutz This is an existing site. It’s been there since the late ‘60’s and the neighborhood associations around Raton, Cimarron and Angel Fire at the time put this together and ran out of money, came to the stations and asked if we would take over and as a matter of good faith, KNME took over the lease for the site at that time and the other broadcasters all share the same building and same tower. This particular site feeds the northeastern section of the State of New Mexico and it’s part of our public service responsibility. The FCC requires that we maintain this site. If the lease isn’t renewed, it pretty much drops television out of Cimarron, Springer, Raton, and Wagon Mound. We would like to ask the Commission if they would please look closely at renewing our lease on this and not asking us to vacate because we’ve done our best to be good stewards of the property.
Commissioner Pino There was discussion on the new rates earlier on different uses of Game and Fish land and with the newly adopted rate structure, what is your feeling? Is the rate that we’re looking at too high, in the middle, too low or just right?
Keith Kooutz To be honest with you, we knew the rates were going to go up. We’ve been paying the fees with the State Land Office on a bunch of other sites. I think the only difference between what the state record says and what you’re proposing is the 3%. It’s usually per term not per year but we’re willing to accept this in order to keep the site maintained.
Commissioner Henderson If we do any kind of monitoring communication towers and now we’re going to be seeing more and more wind tower production in New Mexico--are we doing any kind of monitoring on the impact of towers on bird species, particularly migratory bird concerns?
Jeff Pederson Not specifically . There are like 5 towers at that particular site. A state radio communications tower, t.v., 2 cell towers, and Colfax County and it’s about an acre and a half site there, but I couldn’t tell you whether there are impacts on birds. We certainly aren’t proposing any more towers at that site. These are just existing towers that pre-date this Commission and most of the staff here so we’re not going to be proposing anything new.
Commissioner Henderson The revenue that is generated from these license agreements goes to the Game Protection Fund?
Jeff Pederson Yes, it would have to go to the Game Protection Fund within 24 hours of receipt of the monies.
Lisa Kirkpatrick For the majority of the income that comes in from these activities that occur on Commission-owned properties, those properties were purchased with federal aid funds and so we’re obligated to actually return 75% of that income to the Federal Aid Fund.
Jeff Pederson Green Mountain--we’ve been through this with federal aid actually on this site because of that. We’ve purchased back that site so this would be 100% income to the Commission in this case.
Dan Zillich I work with KNME-TV. I’m an RF Engineer and I’ve been working on Green Mountain for the past 20 years. We have been protecting the site and maintaining the site and we appreciate the new rate increase. We knew it was coming. We want to be up there to provide the public with television free over the air for many years to come.
Larry Caudill How long is the access road and is it access controlled? Again, my basic concern about roads and disturbance and if this is a special-purpose lease, then it seems to me that there ought to be a requirement that it be only legitimate authorized personnel associated with operation of the lease as opposed to just leaving it open for everybody to drive in.
Jeff Pederson That particular road is not gated. It is open to the public for hunting. It is not dedicated to tower users or anybody else and it has been managed that way for a long time. The tower users are not given any promise of any road maintenance. That’s entirely up to them. The site on the top is clean. I don’t know of any problems in that area but we do not control that road and that was part of what we did with federal aid.
Commissioner Arvas The road is on Commission-owned property?
Jeff Pederson Absolutely.
Commissioner Arvas Well, I can assure the public that if there’s any violation or any disturbance beyond what we think is appropriate, the Department will respond and come back to the Commission with some action.
Commissioner Sims I move to approve the 2 current leases from the Commission at the current rates. (Shawn Brown, Commission attorney, suggests 2 separate motions be made.)
Jeff Pederson One motion would suggest it would be to approve a new lease for the Colfax County tower as written and presented to the Commission with the current fee structure adopted by the Commission and the term adopted by the Commission.
Commissioner Sims I move to accept the current lease with the current fee structure on the Colfax County tower as written. Commissioner Riordan seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Arvas The wording for the second motion.
Jeff Pederson The wording suggested would be to approve the lease and fee in term as presented for the KNME tower and using the fees the Commission has adopted.
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya I move for approval. Commissioner Henderson
seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
Jeff Pederson We’ll finalize these documents with the entities and they will then be given to the Chairman of the Commission for signature.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 13. Commission/Department Discussion
Playa Lakes Joint Venture.
An Overview Presented by Mike Carter. - Joint ventures are regional, self-directed partnerships involving federal, state and local management agencies and non-governmental stakeholders to promote various conservation practices including bird conservation. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has been a member of the Playa Lakes Joint Venture for almost 15 years as part of its effort to conserve bird habitat on the eastern plains. An overview of this joint venture and how participation can help fulfill the mission of our Department will be presented.
Bill Dunn We’ve been involved with the Playa Lakes Joint Venture as a Department since its inception in the late ‘80’s and things have been happening lately for bird conservation. I would like Mike to come forward and explain what a joint venture is, why the Department should be a partner and should strengthen the partnership with this joint venture.
Mike Carter Playa Lakes are generally round, small shallow wetlands located in short grass prairie. They host millions of waterfowl, cranes and other birds throughout the annual cycle. The joint venture is a partnership under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. NAWCA is the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Playa Lakes has been a waterfowl based joint venture to deliver waterfowl conservation but more recently we’ve been challenged to deliver all bird conservation. If we work to conserve waterfowl we benefit all those resources and if we do it in a partnership way, it leverages lots of dollars, leverages lots of energy, and gets lots of good things done.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya Do you know about waterfowl abundance in the eastern part of New Mexico. How it’s changed over time?
Mike Carter There have been changes over time due to different introductions of populations and sub-populations. It’s a very dynamic system and a lot depends on how much rainfall is out there so what we’re seeing now in the eastern plains because of the drought is the Playas aren’t full of water and so there aren’t a lot of waterfowl, but it’s not a result of a general decline in waterfowl numbers. It’s a local affect.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya I think it would be nice if the Department could have personnel that were devoted to interacting with the joint ventures as well as implementing more projects on the ground. Can any of the NAWCA monies be used for staff or is that purely on the ground?
Mike Carter A certain amount can be recovered from a NAWCA project. There’s no firm figure like 10% or 7% but as they give the grants they look at how much money is available.
Commissioner Henderson There are monies coming from NAWCA. Is state Game and Fish missing opportunities to match those funds and if we were, what would be your recommendation to build our capacity to better access those dollars?
Mike Carter My recommendation is that under NAWCA there are only $50,000 but the point of the grants is to get new partners in and usually come up with not that much match but probably about $50,000 and then you get a $50,000 grant from NAWCA and that gets you familiar with the system. Are we missing opportunities? Yes. There are about $40,000,000 available per year. Last year the joint venture submitted only 1 NAWCA grant and that happens twice per year and each joint venture they like to fund 1 or 2 of their projects.
Tish McDaniels Other states have alliances with state parks or game and fish or an NRCS, New Mexico doesn’t. We have recently submitted 1 proposal.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya You’re helping educate local landowners on the potential through NAWCA with applying different techniques as well as getting money to apply those techniques?
Mike Carter Not just NAWCA but all the Farm Bill programs that are out there. They’re very optimistic about how they farm the land and they always plow through a playa thinking that they are getting a crop off of it. They rarely do so there are a lot of opportunities to receive payments for buffering the playa with a grassland and not plowing through the basin itself. When you make those buffers you do exactly what I was talking about--you benefit waterfowl as well as upland bird species.
Commissioner Arvas There’s no anticipated motion on the part of the Commission. This is strictly informational.
New Mexico Wildlife Foundation. Presented by Tod Stevenson. - A brief discussion was provided on the origin, structure, recent status, and consideration for future function of the Foundation.
Tod Stevenson The New Mexico Wildlife Foundation is a potential opportunity for an alternative funding source. The New Mexico Wildlife Foundation was established back in the early ‘90’s. It was in reference to establishing a 501C3 non-profit organization. It allows solicitation or acceptance of bequests or property or any other types of gifts that might be provided to the foundation. It also allows grants to be provided to a non-profit organization and then be applied back on the ground or supplement some of the things that the Department of Game and Fish is doing or potentially provide some funding for things that we may not be able to do due to funding limitations. Don MacCarter and part of the folks in the organization went out and worked hard to establish a board and get some people to provide some original donations and work. The main thing we intend to do is bring this forward to let you know that it is in place and that it’s something that’s not being used right now, but potentially has a lot of opportunity to be re-initialized and provide some opportunities. This is not an action item, just an opportunity to provide more information.
Commissioner Riordan I’d like to read a letter from Governor Richardson sent over to us this morning and it says, “From the Desk of Governor Bill Richardson:
New Mexico’s wildlife and the habitat that they depend on are among the precious resources we enjoy and treasure. Protection of the state’s scenic landscape and wildlife is of fundamental importance to the public interest. Further, New Mexico citizens inherently value our wildlife resources and recognize wildlife-associated recreation represents an estimated nearly $1 billion annually in the economy of New Mexico, much of which happens in rural areas. Toward that end, it is important for all of New Mexicans to have the opportunity to broadly support conserving wildlife habitats and maintaining and developing outdoor recreation areas throughout New Mexico. An available mechanism that has not been adequately recognized and fully implemented is the New Mexico Wildlife Foundation which was created in 1991 to help fulfill unmet financial needs to enhance the Department of Game and Fish efforts and wildlife protection, wildlife management and related matters. I have asked the State Game Commission to work with me to explore ways to reinvigorate the Wildlife Foundation and explore additional ways to help it be a mechanism for New Mexicans to further support conservation of our wildlife resources.”
I think that this foundation does give us tremendous opportunity for new acquisitions of lands to improve some of the existing State Game and Fish properties that we have and I want to commend Don and Jane MacCarter for at least keeping this thing together for the last 12 years. But I think that what we need to do here now is probably have a member of our Commission work with staff on trying to reinvigorate and re-establish this foundation for the benefit of all of the sportsmen for all of the wildlife and for our existing lands and not only is it just funds as Deputy Director Stevenson said, but it’s about the acquisition of new lands for the sportsmen and for wildlife that may be in private lands hands now that are not necessarily being pursued for recreational purposes through Game and Fish and there’s a lot of people that are looking for ways to donate properties. I think that this is a way that we all go ahead and get the benefit and on that recommendation, I would like to recommend that Commissioner Sims work with staff to try and develop this further.
Commissioner Arvas Commissioner Sims, would you accept?
Commissioner Sims I would gladly accept.
Commissioner Arvas As you all may know, I’m also a member of the NRA Board of Directors and 10 years ago they started a similar project, the NRA Foundation. At this point in time they have $48,000,000 in an endowment fund and they fund many events and efforts as a result of this endowment fund. As you may know, being a 501C3 means that you can donate to this organization and it’s a tax benefit.
Commissioner Henderson I do know that these 501C3’s have been very successful so I have no doubt that we can develop a successful foundation here in New Mexico. I think that if there’s 1 thing this Commission wants to accomplish it’s to begin the process of moving the funding for the Game and Fish Department from being exclusively funding by sportsmen dollars to share that financial expense with the general public, the folks that are birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. To begin doing that, just so you’ll know, there’s going to be a memorial introduced in the Legislature this session that will direct the Game and Fish Department and the Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources to investigate the possibilities of additional funding sources for the Department in preparation of legislation in the 2005 session.
Internet-Based Special Hunts Application Process. Demonstration by Pat Block. - The Department provided a demonstration of the new Internet-based “Special Hunts” application process which will allow hunters to submit applications via the Internet.
Pat Block This is a new way to apply for special hunts. As part of this change, 1 of the things that we’ve done is changed the Department’s Internet address to wildlife.state.nm.us. It’s an introduction which tells them it takes 10 minutes to fill out the application, explains that we accept VISA and MasterCard. It also provides some security information. It also tells them that once they’re done applying, they must print out a signature page and send that in along to the Department much like you would with a regular application. This is to satisfy a requirement in statute in 1735.
Commissioner Sims Is the charge card to the Department? We know Visa has a fee.
Patrick Block We work under the state’s fiscal agent contract with Wells Fargo Bank and what they’ve done is negotiated a fee structure that treats the state as a whole company so we do get a very attractive rate. It’s slightly under 2% which is a little lower than you’ll get in the retail segment. We’re continuing to work with them because they hold the fiscal agent contract for the state.
Commissioner Sims On that credit card fee of 2%--is there a way that we can recoup that and charge back into the application fee?
Patrick Block We could potentially do that. We also talked about doing our best to encourage participation and not charge people an additional fee.
Commissioner Sims So, that projected fee would be on your projection on how many people use this? The amount would be a large amount on the 2%?
Patrick Block Not necessarily. We’re looking at about $15,000-$20,000 range although it depends on how quickly and how many people adapt to this. Our projection is 15%-20% people will use this this year although in Arizona they’re in their third year of this and they’ve received over 2/3 of their applications through the Internet. Another direct savings is people are entering their information on-line, they’re doing the key entry so the $.52 per head that we pay a key entry contractor goes away.
Commissioner Arvas You can certainly see the advantage to this system for a person instead of having to cough up that up front instead of the $6. Now, I have noticed that some of our western states have raised their application fee even doubled in some cases. I would anticipate that your number of applications would go up with this system,
Patrick Block I believe that potential is certainly there.
Commissioner Arvas What happened the last time in terms of the numbers of applicants—did it increase or decrease?
Patrick Block It did not greatly increase. It went up by about 1 ½%.
Larry Caudill The biggest problem I have is that it’s a de facto change in the application system that had zero public input. The fact that this has been done between Department staff with no input from the public that is most affected is a real deficiency. One of the biggest complaints we have in the application process is the difficulty in drawing. If you only have to pony up a $6 fee, there’re going to be a lot more applications, competition is going to intensify and there’re going to be more unhappy people that didn’t draw because there’s more competition. If this system is going to be used it ought to be done with the understanding that if you apply and if you’re drawn as soon as you return that signature you’re charged the money. Otherwise, we’re going to have a whole bunch of left over tags.
Commissioner Arvas That’s exactly what will happen.
Larry Caudill That wasn’t made clear by Mr. Block and it doesn’t say so in the instructions on the back of this form. He says that you’re notified that you’ve drawn and they ask for the money. If they draw they should understand that when they use this system there’s an immediate charge against that credit card for the cost of the license. There are some clarifications that need to be made so that everybody understands exactly what’s going to happen and so we don’t have this incredible competition for permits which is already intense and I’m not sure that we got a good answer on the fiscal impact of how much money we made on the applications that were held versus turning those funds at the end of the application period 2-3 months later. I know there’s an overhead cost. That’s supposed to be covered by the original application fee. Is it going to cost the Department money? Is it going to make the Department money?
Pat Block When you apply, we would immediately charge your credit card,” that will not happen because the credit card companies do not look kindly upon charging for something that has not been bought. Also, if you do that, you’d be paying the commission on all applicants rather than just successful ones and the interesting thing we found out about that is when you send the credit back out you do a refund for the people that did not draw. The other counter thought to that was well why don’t you just send them a refund through the Department of Finance and Administration and that’s exactly what they’re trying to get us away from doing. So the second way that Mr. Caudill posed the question was immediately upon the draw your credit card is charged. The acknowledgement was “if I draw I agree to pay” and that charge goes through right after the draw. There is no option to say, well I changed my mind and I don’t want it. We have also looked at the question of expired credit cards, cancelled accounts and going over the limit.
Larry Caudill It wasn’t my intent that everybody that applies be immediately charged but it needs to be absolutely guaranteed that everybody that uses this system is aware that if they draw, they will be charged for the license.
Commissioner Arvas That’s what it says.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya If you’ll allow me—it says, “the Department will charge the license fee only if you draw a license.”
Larry Caudill It’s not that it’s an electronic process, it’s that people didn’t know what was going to happen this way and it represents a return to the old paper system; secondly, why is there a difference in this application process than if you apply by paper? If you apply by paper I send in the full amount. Why aren’t those 2 adjacent with one another.
Patrick Block In the statement that said that the credit card companies do not really allow you to make a charge, also the fact that we’d be paying the commission coming and going on all applications, so those were the 2 major reasons. The very first screen people see contains a statement, “if you’re successful in drawing a license your credit card will be billed for the remaining balance.” No cancellation or interference in final payments is allowed. There will be no refunds or exchanges. We try to be extremely clear with that. Also, the acknowledgement that they have to click on is where they have to read that and agree to that so it’s presented in more than 1 place.
Oscar Simpson I think this is a great process. There are going to be some problems that have been reflected in the past about people putting in and can’t afford it. They are going to be charged if they get drawn and I think it solves that problem. I think it’s a great process and it gives everybody an opportunity to come and join the modern world and facilitate some of our needs.
Steve Padilla About 4 years ago we had a group of sportsmen that came to us and they wanted a system where they only had to send in the $6 application fee. So we passed a regulation allowing that. We did that for 1 year and it was a total fiasco. Individuals were applying their entire families and the individuals had very little chance to draw. At the end of that year we went back to the old way where you had to send in the whole fee—the license fee as well as the application fee. If they got typed into regulation with the word “may” that was not the intent of the Commission. It should have been “shall” or “will.” Last year we had a vote on deer entry. On the deer entry, the Department had been requiring only the $6 application fee. The individual sportsmen in the field could not draw. I just checked with the previous Director—he’s in full agreement with me that that was the intent of the Commission, that the entire fee had to be sent in giving everybody an equal chance to draw and only serious applicants would be put in. I have to admit that this looks like a real good system. It’s terrific for the Game Department but think about the customer out there.
Pat Block The blue card did not work out well, the fee up front is indeed required for deer entry which are now deer entry licenses not permits. I will go back to my presentation where we stated that we feel that having the credit card number is in essence the same as having the fee up front because we have access to those funds.
Commissioner Arvas Any other comments? There is no action required. We certainly need to endorse or not endorse this system.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya I’m wondering that if some of this input on the Website there would be italics or more of a warning or even some statement “we’re not kidding” so that we don’t get people to fill out as many applications as their family will fulfill.
Patrick Block We’ve done our best to make that clear and we will certainly look at where we can even beef that up. We feel that it’s there—on the acknowledgement where it says “amount due” but the more clear we can make it the better we’re going to do.
Director Thompson There have been a variety of comments made here, 1 of them that there hadn’t been public comment and I hope that a more appropriate way of looking at this topic is, the Department staff have done a tremendous job of making it an available tool and no one, of course, is obligated or required to use this approach. It’s simply another way that the licensing or application process is delivered to the public. One of the things we recognized is that there is latent interest and under the current system, there is no way of distinguishing whether someone has an above-reproach or untoward motivation in applying for a license and the same thing will occur in this situation. I’m hoping everyone can see this as simply another tool available.
Larry Caudill How much will the Department lose as a result of not having the use of that money in some sort of investment account for a period of 2-3 months?
Patrick Block We did look at that and if anyone at all has been investing lately, you’ve probably seen what has gone on with interest rates so the amount of interest we’ve been able to accrue from that money has gone down tremendously. When you have $15,000,000 for 2 months at 1 ¼%, which is basically what the treasurer is getting on the overnight investments and that’s where that money is, it goes into the State Treasurer and they invest that money overnight which is generally a fairly low yield. We used to get 3%-4% a year on that money but now we’re very low.
Commissioner Riordan That number is approximately 1.15% per annum.
Commissioner Arvas So we’re talking somewhere around $100,000?
Patrick Block What we also do save is the time and effort in processing, which is realized both through the data entry at $.52 per applicant and also the temporary services contract that we use. We have people from fish hatcheries area offices come up and are paid per diem and potentially overtime to get all this processing done. When we ran it, it was an overall savings.
As these were discussion items, no vote was necessary.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 14. An Update of Consideration for Reintroducing Otters
in New Mexico.
Presented by Bill Dunn. - Members of the public interested in reintroducing river otters to New Mexico approached the Department over a year ago with their desire. Department staff has assisted this group with technical advice on data needs and management planning. We will present an update of progress made to date and ask the Commission if the Department should continue with this endeavor.
Bill Dunn About 1 ½ years ago, New Mexico Game and Fish was approached by a group of citizens interested in reintroducing the river otter into the state and since then we’ve given them technical assistance and advice on management and planning like we would with any other stakeholder that we serve. We felt that it was time to update the Commission with information we’ve gathered and what we need to gather in possible future endeavors in this action. The group that approached us is the New Mexico Friends of the River Otter. Reintroduction of the river otters to the Upper Rio Grande is a desired management action in the Resource Management Plan. In the State of New Mexico, there are 5 drainages where there were records of river otters possibly a sixth one. Otters may have a positive impact on stream ecology and the fact that they will reduce the non-native carp and they will also reduce the non-native crayfish which prey on some of our endangered fish in New Mexico. One of the things about food habits, of course, is what are they going to do to our fisheries resources in the State of New Mexico? They reintroduced otters in the Verde River of Arizona and they’ve had very little problems. Colorado’s had no depredation problems and Utah has had 1 small problem in the tail fisheries where they’ve removed the otters and that stopped. I’ve engaged in conversations with the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Trappers Association. They have said that they probably would not be against the reintroduction of the river otter as long as there were no restrictions, Can they become a self-sustaining viable population? Do we have enough habitat? Do we have enough fish? What is the quality of the water? Do we have that? We have to do fishery surveys and some have been done and 1 of the questions we need to answer is are there enough fish out there to support the river otters but also support the sport fishery? We have initiated public input and there’s more to be done. We want to know all the issues that the public may have and we want to be able to address all of them before we propose reintroducing river otters. If otters are brought back into the State of New Mexico they would be listed under the state’s Wildlife Conservation Act in which case all the regulations within that would take effect and it would indeed become a recovery plan.
Commissioner Arvas We have 15-20 people who would like to comment on the otter so we’re going to limit the comments to a maximum of 2 minutes.
Sheldon Smith I’m representing the New Mexico Trappers Association as well as my hometown of Navajo Dam, New Mexico. Navajo Dam economy depends on the river. Anglers come from all over the world, they start with New Mexico airports, they rent cars, they stay at area motels, eat at our restaurants, buy equipment, hire guides, they pay state fees and licenses for the privilege of fishing at the one of the world’s best trout waters. The reintroduction of the otter could further devastate the economy of the community.
Ernie Current I’m with the National Trappers Association, New Mexico Director. How is the otter going to affect our neighbors in the neighboring states, Mexico, Texas? We need to look at this from the trappers’ standpoint, they’re very valuable fur but it’s not worth jeopardizing everyone else. We just need to be looking at the other people that would be affected by this and have respect for them.
Commissioner Arvas This is just an informational item at this time. You’ll have an opportunity before the Department comes up with a recommendation to work with the Department at length.
Melissa Savage I’m with the Four Corners Institute in Santa Fe and adjunct faculty at UNM. This effort to restore otter has happened in many states. We have 20 states and an Indian tribe where otters have been restored, where they used to be extirpated, and they’ve been quite successful in most cases. This is a native animal in our ecosystems and in our water ecosystems, generally tending to keep a good balance of a terrific structure of the food patterns and one of the problems we do have here is exotic crayfish which are harming our water ecosystems and so hopefully, the otter will have a good affect that way.
Taylor Streit I have a fly fishing business in Taos and Chama and we spend a lot of time down the Rio Grande. What I’m learning about all of this is that it would seem like a very good place to put the otter. I talked to someone in the same business. The otter’s been introduced into his area for about 20 years and he said that where they had slower fish to catch, that’s what they went for.
Jon Klingel I’m a member of the New Mexico River Otter Working Group. I believe otters would be a significant asset to New Mexico both aesthetically and ecologically. Possible concerns I’ve heard expressed relating to river trapping and fishing, I think the trapping concerns can be alleviated with management policy and trap modifications. Trout are not an important part of their diet and our warm water fisheries are in reservoirs and as mentioned earlier they don’t like reservoirs with fluctuating water levels. They may also improve sport fishing. I would ask the Commission to encourage the Department to develop a potential draft restoration and long-range management plan.
Paul Polechla Wildlife biologist at the University of New Mexico. I base my testimony on 20 years of study of the river otter. I support studying feasibility of river otter restoration since the southwestern river otter is the rarest and most valuable member of New Mexico’s native fauna. We should foster any existing river otter populations for 6 reasons: (1) river otters are excellent indicators of healthy waterways. Otters can accumulate toxins and warn us of polluted waters and fish; (2) river otters are a native species of mammal that have existed historically in New Mexico for 10,000 years; (3) river otters are the diamond of the fur world. They’re an excellent furbearer, very valuable economically; (4) river otters can restore the health of the fisheries; (5) river otters are charismatic and as such they could support some eco-tourism and also trapping. River otters are good for themselves; (6) ethically, we have a legal and moral responsibility to restore river otter populations in our home state.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 15. Consideration of Game Commission Subcommittees.
Presented by Game Commission. - State Game Commissioners will discuss current sub-committee assignments, identify prospective need for other subcommittees, and possibly act to make further assignments for strategic subcommittee action.
Commissioner Riordan I would like to set up some committees that will represent the Commission as well as encourage interaction with the public on certain issues as well as interaction with the Department on certain issues. On that, I would like to go ahead and make a recommendation that we establish 4 committees: a Land Use Committee, established for the improvement of existing properties that we have, encourage a more diverse use of some of the existing properties that we have as well as taking an inventory by 1 of the Commissioners and the committee as to what types of property we have and maybe what are the best uses for that and the individual I would like to recommend for that with Commission approval, is Dave Henderson to be Chairman of the Land Use Committee.
Commissioner Sims moved that Commissioner David Henderson be the Chair of the Land Use Committee. Commissioner Alfredo Montoya seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All presented voted in the Affirmative. Motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Riordan We also need a Legislative Committee. As we’re approaching
the Legislature, we have many issues that affect the sportsmen, the use of
our lands and I think we have to have more interaction. I am recommending
that we appoint you Mr. Chairman as Chairman of the Legislative Committee
and this was in concurrence with Vice Chairman Montoya. He would also like
to serve on that Committee along with Commissioner Henderson and in that
also I recommend strongly that we work with former Commissioner Steve Padilla.
He’s been a tremendous help this last year as well as he is going to help
us this year. He’s a tremendous advocate of the Department, staff, sportsmen,
and wildlife. So on that recommendation I would like to recommend Dr. Tom
Arvas as Chairman of the Legislative Committee. We have situations that are
facing this Department of a budgetary nature and on that I would like to
go ahead and tap someone with tremendous expertise, our newly appointed Governor
and Commissioner Pino, if he would chair the Budget Committee along with
Commissioner Sims to be a member of that committee. Something that is dear
to many people’s hearts and at the same time is extremely controversial,
we need a Wolf Study Committee. We need a committee that is going to be objective,
that can look at all of the implications that take place with this particular
committee, and with that recommendation, I’d like to make Commissioner Jennifer
Montoya, who has proven to be extremely fair in discussions and very sensitive
to the economic needs of this community also. I would like to go ahead and
nominate Jennifer Montoya as Chair of the Wolf Study Committee. I would like
Commissioner Sims to be on that committee also.
Commissioner Arvas Commissioner Riordan, would you like to make comments of the 2 sub-committees that are presently sub-committees in existence?
Commissioner Riordan We presently have 2 existing sub-committees: the Marquez Committee which we will continue to go ahead with that committee as it stands, myself as Chair, Commissioner Arvas, and Commissioner Sims, and resolve some issues there with the Marquez Land Grant. We have the Elk L.O.S.S. Committee where we are reviewing the allocation of permits for private properties and the implications it has and try and get something that’s better balanced for everyone concerned and a little fairer. Commissioner Alfredo Montoya, if you would chair that and I’ll still remain on that committee along with Commissioner Pino.
Commissioner Sims I move that we take the recommendations of Chairman Riordan on the sub-committees. Alfredo Montoya seconded the motion.
Commissioner Henderson I just want to make a comment for the public’s benefit that starting now, if we approve this, these committees will be in large part your point of contact on these particular issues and as we’ve heard at this Commission meeting, if we’re not providing the appropriate access and opportunity, we need to hear from you and make sure that we alleviate those concerns. I think the purpose of this by the Chairman is to make it easier for the public to provide input to the Commission pre-decision making.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion passed unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 16. General Public Comments (Comments limited to 3 minutes).
Dr. Paul Polechla I’ve spent 10 years working on otters in New Mexico. I’ve studied otters in Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, and New Mexico, in the wild, zoos, museums, and libraries. I have traveled North America, and the world giving talks on otters. I’ve had the privilege of working on otters with Arkansas Game and Fish, Missouri Conservation Department, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Idaho Fish and Game Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, New Mexico Game and Fish, Native American tribes, and non-governmental organizations. I’ve served as lead scientist for the otter specialist group, River Otter Alliance and the Otter Working Group. I’ve published about 20 papers on otters. I’ve studied otter ecology, their distribution, relative abundance, reproduction, mortality, population dynamics, habitat use and food habits using live traps, radio telemetry, GPS units, microscopes, cameras, lab equipment, my own eyes to observe otters. I’ve tracked them through many habitats from the mountain tundras, to the deserts, prairies, swamps, and marshes over every imaginable terrain: mud, snow, ice, sand, dust and rocks. I urge you to continue to include me in the development and implementation of this feasibility study.
Andy Dimas I’m a retired biologist for the Bureau of Land Management. A recently released first study of its kind by an international team of scientists conducted the first global analysis of global warming effects on the earth’s plant and animal species. This study was published by the Associated Press and will appear in the January issue of the Journal Nature. The team concludes that up to 1/3 of all species will be driven toward extinction by the middle of this century. Most scientists agree that this accelerated warming trend is due to the cumulative affects of human-produced emissions of greenhouse gases from power plants and other industries that trap and hold heat in the atmosphere. My appeal is that the State Game Commission through the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish take an active leadership role in this state to initiate an educational program and an action program which will lead to this state taking a lead at the state level, locally, and nationally to immediately reduce the causes of global warming and help avert a local and global environmental meltdown. This move is beyond the Commission’s historical boundaries but I believe it is within the Commission’s legal authorities as stewards of the state’s fish and wildlife resources.
Taylor Streit I have a fly fishing business in Taos. There’s a situation in the Red River above Taos below the hatchery which is the main spawning ground for brown and rainbow trout from the Rio Grande and there’re no special regulations to protect those fish and a lot of spawning fish especially the brown trout get taken out of there in November and December. I would like to see a catch and release regulation.
Brian Shields I’m Executive Director of Amigos Bravos and we’ve put resources into the river otter project. We’re very happy to keep working on that project and assisting the Department in any way. I like to address the Commission about the Valle Vidal and the oil and gas exploration that’s going on. In the ‘90’s the Department appealed a timber sale by the Forest Service and at that point, the Forest Service asked the Department to do a joint project, which was a management plan for the Valle Vidal. What happened in that process was that we never got to see an environmental impact statement produced on the Valle Vidal and I believe that was because of the controversy around the tremendous amount of roads that were going to have to be built if there was going to be some oil and gas exploration. We have a very important elk herd there and their winter habitat, which is the key component of what is keeping that herd at the size that it is, is the area that is threatened by the oil and gas exploration, so any kind of exploration that goes in there is going to heavily impact that herd. I believe that the Department has a special interest in the Valle Vidal and I think the Department does have a place in the planning process to say to the Forest Service that the Department wants to take a very active role and be a part of the ID team for the preparation of the process for the Valle Vidal and I would encourage the Commissioners to make sure that the Department does take an active role in developing that environmental impact statement so that the state’s resources are taken care of and the state’s interests are represented. I recommend that the Department actually ask the Forest Service to have 2 people from the Department go there, 1 a habitat specialist and 1 an elk specialist.
Director Thompson We are in fact active in examining that topic in conjunction with some other state agencies.
Oscar Simpson President of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and I’d like to add to Mr. Shield’s comments about the Valle Vidal. This is New Mexico’s little Yellowstone and a pristine area that needs to be protected. Based on the administration’s present policies, etc., a lot of those evaluations and studies may be streamlined or eliminated and I would like to see the Commission stand 100% behind making sure that all the data and information is fully analyzed and represented. The Raton Basin is dedicated to coal bed methane development. There are millions of acres that are presently being extensively developed. The New Mexico Wildlife Federation and the Coalition for Valle Vidal is just now getting underway and we’re going to recommend no drilling at all. I encourage the Game Commission give good policy and direction to the Game Department to take a fully functional stance on this to get all the data that we can and to make sure we have information with which to make some valuable decisions.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 17. Closed Executive Session.
The State Game Commission adjourned into closed executive session, pursuant to Section 10-15-1 (H)(1) NMSA 1978, to discuss matters related to personnel, litigation, and land acquisitions.
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya moved that this Commission go into Executive Session pursuant to Section 10-15-1 (H)(1) NMSA 1978 of the Open Meetings Act in order to discuss limited purposes of personnel matters, litigation, and land acquisitions.
Commissioner Sims seconded the motion.
Director Thompson called Roll:
Commissioner Arvas - Yes
Commissioner Henderson - Yes
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya - Yes
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya - Yes
Commissioner Pino - Yes
Commissioner Riordan - Yes
Commissioner Sims - Yes
Closed Executive Session convened at 2:37 p.m. Adjourned at 4:17 a.m.
Commissioner Arvas The Closed Executive Session was limited to the items on the agenda for the Closed Session. No action was taken in the Closed Session.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 18. Guide and Outfitter Notice of Contemplated Action Request.
Presented by Brian Gleadle. - The Department requested approval to send a
Notice of Contemplated Action to the registered guides and/or outfitters
discussed in Executive Session. If in the Commissioner’s determination, an
individual shall be served notice, he or she will be afforded an Administrative
Hearing following 19.31.2 NMAC. The purpose of the Administrative Hearing
will be to assess points against the guide and/or outfitters registration
as they apply to the revocation process.
Brian Gleadle Pursuant to the information provided to the Commission in Executive Session the Department now asks that the Commission approve the Department’s recommendation to send a Notice of Contemplated Action to the guide and outfitter discussed.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya moved to accept the Department’s recommendation and send a Notice of Contemplated Action to the registered guide and outfitter. Commissioner Riordan seconded the motion.
Commissioner Sims On Agenda Item No. 18 I will recuse myself and I will not be taking part in the discussion nor the vote.
Commissioner Riordan You have 2 of these individuals? The individual on the check basically stopped payment on the check after returning to New Mexico.
Brian Gleadle Yes, that’s correct.
Commissioner Riordan So, if we go ahead, how many points is this violation?
Brian Gleadle If we apply the misconduct section of the Guide and Outfitter Rule, it could accrue 20 points.
Commissioner Riordan That would basically revoke his license?
Brian Gleadle That is correct.
Commissioner Riordan If this individual returned the money to the clients would that be taken into account at some future date?
Brian Gleadle I believe that could be a mitigating circumstance in which we would approach the Hearing Officer and if the monies were returned, we would accept a lesser point value associated with the misconduct.
Commissioner Riordan Okay. Thank you.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Pino absent.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 19. Department Recommendations to Commission Re: Marquez
Wildlife Area. Presented by Jim Karp. - The Department will make recommendations
to the Commission and seek Commission action instructions concerning available
alternatives to resolution of the access issue at the Marquez Wildlife Area.
Commissioner Riordan I move that we table Agenda Item No. 19. Commissioner Sims seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All presented voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
AGENDA ITEM NO. 20. Adjourn.
Commissioner Riordan moved to adjourn. Commissioner Sims seconded the motion.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
Meeting adjourned at 4:33 p.m.
S/ April 7, 2004
Bruce C. Thompson, Secretary to the Date
New Mexico State Game Commission
S/ April 7, 2004
Tom Arvas, Chairman Date
New Mexico State Game Commission