UPDATED: May 26, 2004

Special Public Meeting
The Lodge at Chama/Running Elk Corporation
Hwy 84/285 (80 miles from Espanola)
Chama, New Mexico 87520

May 6, 2004
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 1. Meeting Called to Order
Meeting called to Order at 10:41 a.m.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 2. Roll Call
Director Thompson called Roll:
Chairman Riordan - Present
Vice-Chairman Alfredo Montoya - Present
Commissioner Arvas – Present
Commissioner Henderson – Present
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya – Present
Commissioner Pino – Absent at Roll Call (Arrived at 10:55 a.m.)
Commissioner Sims – Absent
Quorum present.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 3. Introduction of Guests

AGENDA ITEM NO. 4. Approval of Minutes (April 7, 2003)
MOTION: Commissioner Arvas moved to accept the Minutes of the April 7, 2004 State Game Commission Meeting as presented. Commissioner Jennifer Montoya seconded.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative with the exception of Commissioner Alfredo Montoya who abstained from voting because he was not present at the April 7, 2004 State Game Commission meeting in Silver City.
Motion carried.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 5. Approval of Agenda
MOTION: Commissioner Arvas moved to approve the Agenda for the May 6, 2004 State Game Commission Meeting as presented. Commissioner Jennifer Montoya seconded.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 6. State Game Commission Open Strategic and Operational Discussion
Commissioner Riordan The purpose of the Special Public Meeting is for the Commissioners and members of the public to have input on the direction the Commission is trying to take.
Commissioner Henderson One of my concerns has been that we want to be representative and decide what our priorities are, how we see ourselves relating to each other rather than showing up at Commission meetings and debating these issues. The other concern is that we decided to break into subcommittees. How are those subcommittees to operate, how are we most effective, and how to best include the public. I would like for the Department and the public to bring as much information and science as possible and to integrate that into our decision-making process.
Commissioner Riordan We value information that staff brings to the Commission. The Commission sets policy and staff enacts the policy of the Commission. We as the Commission would like staff to give us good, quality information with alternatives.
Tod Stevenson One of the purposes of the Department is to weigh a variety of things. Any time we get into a situation where we bring only 1 alternative, it puts the Department into a decision-making role and that’s not what the Department’s function is. The Department’s function is to give good information, and then the Commission is able to provide the Department with long-range guidance.
Director Thompson I’d like to see the Department do a better job of conservation and management in context. The Department’s job is to bring to the Commission an evaluation of the biological, ecological, physical considerations, social, human demographics, and even legislative/political perspectives.
Commissioner Arvas We’re getting ready to develop the Big game regulation for the upcoming 2 years and we need to be discussing the Department’s legislative activities.
Luke Shelby The process of providing several alternatives to an issue is what helps us.
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya I feel the Commission’s role is that of a buffer between different interest groups. The Commission needs to be prepared and educated to enable it to make good decisions. Strong communication relationships between the Commission and the Department need to be improved, as well as communication amongst the Commissioners.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya I feel staff doesn’t understand what the Commission’s priorities are as a body. I’d like to see New Mexico Department of Game and Fish as the model for western wildlife management. We’ve got tremendous resources and we want to strive for our staff to be a model of excellence and empower staff to do the best for wildlife and do a vision and mission statement so that the Department can do its best.
Commissioner Riordan Whenever there is anything of a politically sensitive nature, someone has to make sure that we get the information so that we know what they’re talking about, when a member of our constituency or the governor’s office calls us.
R.J. Kirkpatrick One of the most important jobs that staff has is to be able to take technical information, whether biological, political, or economical, and disseminate it to the Commissioners to enable you to make good decisions.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya I’m very interested in seeing the Department become a bigger player in wetland acquisition, water acquisition, outreach and education, and promoting wildlife values within the state.
Steve Padilla I agree with Commissioner Henderson’s comments about input to make decisions. You also need to consider input on political, social, and economic issues to make your decisions.
John Boretsky There does not seem to be as much a priority on game and providing game as there is on conservation and exotic and endangered species. We don’t’ know the Commission’s priorities nor direction you’re trying to take. We’re seeing game disappear and law enforcement not as effective as we’d like it to be.
Commissioner Riordan We have issues with law enforcement. I’ve been assured it will be addressed during the next Legislative session. My opinion is that we need more officers out in the field. We may not all have the same method of getting to where we want to go. I can say I’ve seen a very diverse, eclectic group on our Commission that’s been very respectful of everyone else’s way of doing things. We also realize the contributions made by sportsmen.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya Conservation is as elevated an emphasis as it ever was. It’s a perception and we’re going to have to work a little harder to show that game and fish is still the priority of the Department.
Commissioner Henderson I’ve not seen this Commission act in an irresponsible manner against sportsmen’s interests. Our positions are transparent on the Commission. What we’re trying to do is not put the entire responsibility on the sportsmen. We’re looking for opportunities to broaden the base.
Commissioner Riordan You need to lobby us as the public. We understand that we have all these properties and that the Game Commission has been remiss over the years in not letting some of those properties be accessible.
John Boretsky We’re concerned whether its access to property or funding for staff. I’ve a comment about the last Commission meeting. It’s not all about wolves, it was that of 24 agenda items, there were maybe 2 that were directly related to game and this fuels the perception.
Commissioner Riordan Most of the items on the June agenda will relate to hunting and fishing.
Director Thompson I’d like to provide some assurance that we aren’t going to do anything that will diminish the hunting and angling prospects. We do have to be careful about insuring that we continue to do things on behalf of hunting and angling that attend to the changing context under which we’re operating. We often have to dovetail hunting and angling programs with a variety of other things that are of public interest.
Commissioner Arvas This Commission is going to be very responsive to the hunting and fishing community.
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya I do have a concern regarding our legislative success or lack of success. It’s difficult to get the committee assignments on the bills. We weren’t as prepared as we should have been. I’ve talked to legislators and I’ve come to the conclusion that the problems were communication, education, and analysis. We’ve got to spend some time on the interim committees that will start meeting now and try to interest them as a committee to endorse our legislation and they can introduce it and the committee as a whole can endorse our bills and inform them on the importance to a state agency as ours. A strategy is certainly needed before the upcoming 60-day session.
Commissioner Arvas My concerns were the lack of constituency support. We didn’t have any sportsmen’s groups helping us do anything that needed to get done. A constituent has considerable influence on his legislator.
Commissioner Henderson We need to start building our team and perspective on what we want to accomplish to find alternative funding. The sub-committee needs to start early with the director on who’s going to be the lobbyist and get an idea of what the legislative agenda is going to be and start building a strategy. The Governor appointed this Commission, and we need to act now and take advantage of that favorable, positive opportunity to see what difference we can make. We’re fighting a perceived reputation in the legislature and we didn’t get the job done.
Commissioner Riordan Now with the Legislative Committee formed, we can address your concerns and it’s going to force the committee to act and get with the staff and lobbyists and strategize.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya We, and the staff, will need to weigh in heavily on deciding our priority bills. When should we do that?
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya We need to make them within the next month or 2 so that we have at least half of the year to go to the interim committees.
Commissioner Riordan That’s a role for the Legislative Committee chairman to go ahead and sit down with staff and get together with the members and start outlining how they want to go.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya To select the priorities?
Commissioner Riordan Not to select the priorities but select some of the issues we already know that we are going to go forward on such as fee increases, and depredation. We know we have to strategize that. Alternative funding is another issue. We have other issues we need to get on the June agenda. That committee consists of Commissioner Arvas, Chairman; Commissioner Alfredo Montoya, and Commissioner Henderson.
Commissioner Arvas We need to hear from the Department in terms of their priorities, then we also need to prioritize what the Commission needs to be done for legislative issues. It’s going to be a Department/Commission effort.
Director Thompson Historically, the Department brought legislative matters to the Commission some time in early fall, and we’ve begun discussing and we anticipate coming to the Commission sooner and more productively.
Commissioner Pino The legislative session is an important priority and I don’t think it should be a sub-committee of the Commission. I think it should be the whole Commission because as Commissioners we’re responsible for fund raising and lobbying the legislative body, but I think it should be staff as well. There needs to be true partnership between the staff and the Commission.
Commissioner Riordan We set the priorities for the legislative session with input from staff and the sub-committee or individuals out there with the staff, and we only did what we were directed to do from the total Commission on those particular issues.
Steve Padilla Some of the most significant laws have come about in the last 12 years. You need to get the sportsmen involved, you need to get them behind the legislation or otherwise it isn’t going to work.
Commissioner Riordan What we have on our agenda before the legislative session needs to be looked at and it needs to be talked about with the director and the chair and with the legislative committee.
Steve Padilla We need to work on the image of the Department. Field personnel need to work on dealing with the public.
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya One thing that would work well would be for the director to be the presenter and have key staff with more details. The legislators like to see Commissioners at the hearings.
Commissioner Riordan We need better dialog from the sportsmen’s groups. As the legislative committee gets moving we’ll be better able to strategize and inform groups that are affected. The chairman of the committee will take direction from the whole committee as to agenda items. Everyone needs to contact our legislators.
Commissioner Henderson We need to contact constituents in our districts.
Commissioner Riordan We can utilize the web page and let members of the public know what our legislative issues are so that we have a concerted effort for the benefit of the resource and get things done.
MOTION: Commissioner Henderson moved to adjourn for lunch. Commissioner Arvas seconded.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
MOTION: Commissioner Henderson moved to reconvene. Commissioner Arvas seconded.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.

Public Comment:
Bud Starnes Department of Agriculture. We analyze all your bills that affect the agricultural community and I’d like to challenge you to help us work together better as departments and to harmonize better in our efforts for the common people.
Commissioner Henderson Do you have some advice to help us make that happen?
Bud Starnes I would start by asking all of you to attend the stock growers meeting this fall in Albuquerque and get to know some of the people that are the pushers and movers. The second thing I would propose to getting a head start on things if you send me some information on what your planning in the way of legislation, we might be able to support you.
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya I’d like to ask you about the surveys your ranchers and farmers completed. You mentioned that in every single one wildlife was an issue. What specifically about wildlife?
Bud Starnes They feel that the Native Species Act and its implementation to different agencies had a negative affect. One instance, 9 states voted to have the black tail prairie dog removed. New Mexico did not. If that kind of legislation is carried forward, it hurts individuals. We can work together to formulate legislation, and support programs that will reimburse farmers and ranchers that are negatively impacted.
Commissioner Riordan When did we have that vote on the prairie dog?
Director Thompson What’s being referred to is actually a letter that went from me to the Fish and Wildlife Service responding to some specific questions regarding prairie dogs in New Mexico. The request was evidence from New Mexico that indicated any change in the situation that would point to removal from the candidate list. That letter has unfortunately been interpreted as “not voting for delisting”, but if 1 were to read the request for information and read the response, it was taking a response to a particular set of questions and turning it into “New Mexico didn’t vote for it”. I can only say that it’s unfortunate if that’s what people in New Mexico are doing, but that is not a correct characterization of what occurred. Perception is important, but there was no vote. Whenever someone characterizes New Mexico voting against taking the black tailed prairie dog off the candidate list, that’s simply not a correct description of the action. It was not the Department’s intent to do what this characterizes.
Commissioner Arvas The Forest Service and BLM representatives are missing. If you’d let us know when your meetings are scheduled, the Department could have a representative at the meetings. We do appreciate your support at the last legislature.
Bud Starnes The Soil and Water District Commission is a separate political body in this state that’s not recognized, they’re 1 of the most efficient, on-the-ground, working groups, in the state. It would behoove you to attend 1 of those meetings.
Michael Rivera As a transition committee member with the Game Commission when Bill Richardson got elected, 1 of our priorities was that there be better coordination and integration with other departments. As a landowner we’re involved with NRCS and soil conservation and we network with that program and we do habitat improvement, and water management. It’s frustrating dealing with the state and federal agencies, the Forest Service along with the Game and Fish. We’ve made comments and they’ve been ignored.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya I sit on a proposal-rating panel to Fish and Wildlife Service for the Private Land Stewardship Grant and New Mexico has very few proposals. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is only a partner in a few of them. Commissioner Henderson and I encourage the Department to become more active in these broader partnerships that involve federal monies.
Bud Starnes I’d encourage the Department to help the ranchers and farmers. It would help your image greatly and in supporting some of the many programs available out there, we’ll get more for the State of New Mexico.
Director Thompson We’re building more in the partnership arena and doing more with federal grants.
R. J. Kirkpatrick We’re going to focus our attention over the next 60-90 days on developing regulations. There’s controversy around public land grazing and elk competition. We continually try to sort through that with information, education, and cooperation to solve private land depredation problems, and competition on private lands. We find today that not only have the problems not diminished, but they’ve increased. Let’s identify the specifics of where individual problems lie and see if we can’t solve that problem where it exists in lieu of destroying the resource or diminishing the value of the entire resource.
Commissioner Riordan How do you think we’re diminishing the resource?
R. J. Kirkpatrick We’re reducing elk numbers with aggressive hunting.
Commissioner Riordan That’s through cow hunting?
R. J. Kirkpatrick Aggressive cow hunting is the big contributor. There are other components in our hunt structures—long extended seasons into the spring have helped that. Unit 4 is 1 of those places where we’ve provided land owners the opportunity to harvest elk on migratory corridors and winter ranges for the last 3-4 years and we’re seeing that result with fewer elk. The statewide elk task force met about 3 weeks ago in Taos. Are they perception or resource problems and maybe there are some better solutions than what we’re currently doing from the Department’s standpoint. Stabilization instead of continued reduction would be the most appropriate. If they participate in our landowner system, it puts dollars in their pocket and so short-term, increasing the number of licenses that we issue seems a nice thing to do but we’re getting to the point in our elk populations where we’re soon going to recognize that the resource is at a lower level and that level of economic ability and opportunity is going to diminish. We need to figure out a way to economically benefit, encourage, or give incentive to people for liking wildlife.
Commissioner Riordan Alfredo Montoya chairs the L.O.S.S. Committee and we’ve had discussions on ways to improve the elk numbers, the resource, who gets permits, and who doesn’t. Presently, we have a default system where if you apply for the L.O.S.S. program, if you have property within this area, you get a default tag, so we’re giving them a permit which they can either kill a cow or bull, and they’re not making any contributions. What we’re looking at is ways to create an economic incentive, looking at individual properties, and if someone is contributing we’re going to give them a permit in 3-4 years and allow them to participate.
R. J. Kirkpatrick This migratory population drifts through multiple jurisdictions and state boundaries. The San Juan Interstate Wildlife Working Group that is composed of various tribal entities, national parks, southern Colorado Division of Wildlife, and New Mexico Game and Fish and the mega population that is the southern San Juan’s, Rio Grande River, Navajo Lake, Colorado, and New Mexico, that total population had been reduced 10,000-15,000 elk over the last 8-10 years.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya Can you speak on the distinguishing characteristics of other herds?
R. J. Kirkpatrick There are 4. We’ve added Unit 6 to the Jemez Mountains as it has become even more controversial as a result of livestock interests and wildlife. It continues to be a problem but we’re taking steps toward building relationships with agriculture and public land managers to a better place and decide what kind of management goals need to be applied. One of the biggest needs is habitat enhancing. We didn’t need increases in good elk habitat in that part of the Jemez Mountains. The Valles Caldera sits in the middle of it and we’ve been working with the Valles Caldera over the last 2 months trying to sort through the issues with the Department. We’ve given them the number of elk we’d like them to harvest to stabilize that population. Unfortunately, the number of licenses and hunters that it would take to reach that goal becomes a logistical problem for the Valles Caldera and all their other requirements, needs, and goals. We’ve met continually with permittees and Forest Service officials in the northern Jemez Mountains trying to come to consensus on what the problems are and what the causes may have been. The Coyote Ranger District, the most controversial, submitted a $250,000,000 Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation proposal to do habitat improvement projects. We met with the president and asked if there had been a change in acceptance of wildlife as being important in that community and on that habitat. As a result of that meeting, there hadn’t been any change in their desires to eliminate elk and so we went to a meeting of the group that approves or disapproves. The Department couldn’t support that proposal because wildlife dollars were going to improve wildlife habitats that would benefit only cattle. Forest health is in trouble there. The western side, Game Management Unit 6-A, the landowner community and the outfitting community that is tied to that community agreed to do a belt-tightening effort. We’ve reduced permit numbers in an attempt to let resident elk in that western portion of the Jemez increase as well as to encourage movement elk off the Valles Caldera.
Steve Padilla Five years ago the Department was attempting to work with labs and Bandelier. Still on that?
R. J. Kirkpatrick We regularly deal with Los Alamos National Labs and Bandelier on a variety of issues but as far as elk are concerned, no, we haven’t engaged them other than in the venue of seeking common ground.
Commissioner Riordan How many elk do you say we have in the Jemez herds, both units? Is it up or down from where it was?
R. J. Kirkpatrick That elk population is 4,000-5,000. We counted 4,500 on the Valles Caldera, estimated core populations; and, the total estimated population in the Jemez was 6,500-7,000. That population dropped below 4,000 but subsequently it has slowly increased as a result of the real issue with elk management in the Jemez Mountains. We need to re-address what we’re trying to do in the Jemez Mountains.
Commissioner Riordan How about the other units?
R. J. Kirkpatrick The elk in the Gila is a world-renowned trophy elk herd in the U.S. We have reduced elk populations in the Gila. We’ve also reduced the credibility of that as true top 3-elk hunting trophy units in the U.S. The majority of the problems still exist and maybe more tenuous than they were when we started this population reduction.
Commissioner Riordan What do you think the population is in the Gila?
R. J. Kirkpatrick Probably 10,000-12,000 elk, 15,000 that was split into A and B. We recently flew it and that population is coming in around 5,000. The 16,000 are the southern component of that.
Commissioner Riordan How is that in comparison to 5-6 years ago?
R. J. Kirkpatrick I don’t have a feel for how many elk were there, maybe 15,000-20,000.
Commissioner Riordan Where’s our other big elk?
R. J. Kirkpatrick Unit 34 is our other big component of the 4 big elk populations in the state in which we’ve got movement of elk from Mescalero Apaches. That movement has compounded our efforts in getting reductions in the population. Unit 34 is more charged than the others and so we’re going to work through that with the constituents that are most involved.
Commissioner Riordan What’s the elk population in Unit 34?
R. J. Kirkpatrick The sightability survey that we flew in 2004 is in the neighborhood of 2,700 or beyond that, but we’re striving to reach a population level of around 1,000. Last year’s population in there was under 2,000 and despite our efforts, that population has grown. We’ve got an influx of elk into that unit from the reservation.
Bud Starnes The biggest factor in dealing with the ranchers is the Forest Service policy to prioritize forage for elk. If you’re a biologist in the Forest Service, say there are 6 inches of forage in this spot. First choice is elk , 4 inches for fowl, and if there’s anything else left when the elk come along, by the time the cows come along they might get some. It doesn’t make any sense because the way they do their analysis is very minimal and they’re already in critical condition. As long as there’s a policy like the Forest Service has that’s using elk as 1 of the tools pushing ranchers out, you’re going to maintain a non-cooperative process.
Commissioner Riordan Doesn’t the Forest Service work for the Department of Agriculture?
R.J. Kirkpatrick Yes. The Department is taking a leadership and an active role in having truthful, meaningful conversations and working relationships getting built with Forest Service, BLM, and NMDA.
Michael Rivera I’ve dealt with the Forest Service on trespassing and other issues. They’ve taken some steps to benefit foraging as a whole.
Commissioner Riordan The overview of our discussion is that what the Commission needs to look at is how many elk we want in these different areas. We have responsibilities to the resource and to the economics. Do we want to go out there and continue to kill cow elk or do we want to manage the resource, start doing point restrictions, looking at bigger heads, letting some of these elk grow up for 2-3 years. We’re knocking down 1 ½-year old bulls. What’s out hunter success rate in this unit?
R. J. Kirkpatrick It’s been fairly high although it fluctuates with weather patterns. It probably averages in 70%-80% success on bull harvest.
Commissioner Riordan I’m not sure the Department of Game and Fish has the responsibility to have an 80% success rate in this unit. If we keep killing the 1 ½ -year old bulls, we’re not going to have bulls. We want input from the sportsmen’s groups and we’re going to open up our big game proclamation.
R. J. Kirkpatrick Field personnel are conducting public involvement processes in every corner of the state. We intend to come to Unit 4 and sit down with as many landowners, all 327 if possible, to give them information in a clear and concise way.
Michael Rivera A suggestion that might help is that information can be put on the website.
R. J. Kirkpatrick We’ll have big game participation ability and a lot of information about various components of deer and elk on the web page within a week or so.
Commissioner Riordan The elk populations have tremendous economic impact on the private-land owner and on the rancher.
Commissioner Pino Sitting on the L.O.S.S. Committee, we’re in the process of looking at the elk population and getting the formula on how much feed elk consume. There are many things that come into being to make the public aware.
John Boretsky We’re having a retreat the last weekend in July and we’d like to discuss the economic impact of guided hunting and fishing in New Mexico.
Commissioner Riordan As a Commission, let’s talk to the staff so we get a consensus where we want to go with elk so we are somewhat prepared in June for the Commission meeting, and how we want to address some of the issues we’ve got.
R.J. Kirkpatrick Deer populations in the western U.S. have been in decline for 15-30 years. The overwhelming desire is to have the numbers that existed in the ‘50’s. The Department is in a position where we’re looked upon by landowners and sportsmen and public land management agencies that we should know the pieces to that puzzle and we should be doing on a daily basis to turn that situation around. Fallout that’s become more evident over the years is that deer numbers have declined in various units in the State of New Mexico. We’ve placed more of our game units into restrictive hunting through the draw process. We haven’t addressed the landowner segment of landownership in those units. The other thing that we’ve done is that we’ve restricted hunter numbers in mostly northern New Mexico. The majority of our public hunters and a big majority of our private land owners, public land managers, Forest Service, and BLM are extremely interested in going to some kind of a system that limits the number of people out on the landscape. Managing deer hunters, reducing the number of people in the field is not going to make more deer, but it allows the people that do get to go to have a much more enjoyable experience. The other part of deer management is biological components and disease, habitat improvement projects, body condition scores, predators, all the biological management activities that we could potentially engage in are in that other part of deer management. A deer hunter may choose to hunt deer on private property. The license will be valid only on private property. If a deer hunter wants to hunt on public or private property, that individual would have the chance to go through a drawing process because the Department is going to restrict the number of people who have the ability to engage in. If an individual says he wants to hunt just public ground, he’d have the opportunity to hunt deer but he’d have to go through a process whereby the Department limits how many of those opportunities are available. There may be places in the state where an individual can choose to hunt deer in a restrictive scenario with trophy kinds of deer hunting. Youth hunting is something we’ve talked about. Do we want to restrict youth hunting opportunity in places where we think there’s a great resource for them to partake into the hunting activity or do we want them to go through a restrictive process of the draw. Bow hunting in September may not currently have a high demand because that opportunity may be over-the-counter. Legislation was introduced to incorporate deer into the requirement that we issue deer landowner permits in the same statute as elk. The opportunity of buying an over-the-counter license on public land is going to be more restrictive, but there’ll still be a multitude of other choices to hunt deer.
Commissioner Riordan Director Thompson, how much money does the Department take in from deer licenses?
Director Thompson It’s certainly several million dollars. It’s very likely there’ll be no appreciative change in licensing and it won’t have depressing effect at all on revenues, and it’s not that that’s the driving force but the reasoning is that currently less than 15% of the licenses for deer being used are handled through a drawing process. With the provision of multiple options where many of the hunters who have hunted on private land where there wouldn’t be a restriction, we’d see a prospective increase in the number of drawn licenses and no decrease in the other kinds of licenses used.
Commissioner Riordan I’m in favor of us protecting and increasing that resource. If you want to get numbers out there and have some kind of an economic impact on that area for private landowners, they’re shooting small bucks and those little bucks are out there breeding. There are does out there that are barren because we’re hunting everything that has horns. We can increase the number of deer but we’ve got to look at some kind of point restriction on these deer-entry permit areas. We’re trying to put quality out in the field, we’re trying to get more animals out in the field, let’s have a more significant economic impact for everyone.
Commissioner Henderson How is it that you create economic incentives if someone’s having to wait 3-4 years until we get the resource and are we willing to wait a few years to get there?
Commissioner Riordan It’s putting in “x” number of hunters in the field, but at the same time if we don’t have to guarantee someone an 80% success rate on elk. If you give the deer a 3-year rest and put a point restriction on those deer, we’ll see a tremendous increase in the size of the animals. That directly affects the guides and outfitters that’re able to sell quality permits on private land. These private landowners are out there and they’ve got a 3-by-3 point restriction, they’re not going to get a lot of bucks this year, but all those forked-horns are going to be 3-pointers next year, and we’re not going to increase the number of permits. We’re still providing the opportunity and still collecting the revenues for the Department but we’re diminishing the number of bucks they take.
Luke Shelby 1.8 million dollars is what deer licenses generate in this state annually.
Commissioner Arvas Luke, if we went to a complete draw system what would that drop down to?
Luke Shelby We have seen those numbers, I just haven’t seen them recently.
Commissioner Arvas Pat Block told me a couple of months ago that he thought there’d be $300,000-$400,000 reduction in income.
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya We were told at the September, 2003 meeting that the numbers going down were attributed to the Forest Service’s anxiousness to fight fires immediately once they see smoke and that deer did well in areas where it was allowed to burn. Fire suppression has an impact on deer numbers. The other thing he mentioned was the public’s unwillingness to support predator control. The last thing he said was that their habitat was being taken over by development. Habitat was a critical issue because it was being depleted. He also stated that this could be controlled by just the kinds of things we’re talking about, but unless the other facts were met, the success rate of us increasing deer numbers wouldn’t be as great unless we address the 3 issues with other entities.
Director Thompson Point of clarification, the $1.8-$2.1 million revenue that we can attribute to deer licenses, represents somewhere between 7%-8% of the agency’s budget and we’ll see little appreciable change and realistically it will be 1% of our budget.
Commissioner Riordan John, what kind of an impact do you think it would have on eliminating some of these over-the-counter for these out-of-state hunters?
John Boretsky Very little because over-the-counters on private land, private ranches provide a better opportunity for a buck.
Commissioner Riordan If we’re going to open up these deer-entry permit areas, I would absolutely want a point restriction on those areas.
Commissioner Arvas John, what would you guess the percentage of guided/outfitted hunting on public land is for deer?
John Boretsky Minimal.
Michael Rivera There had never been deer tags available to private landowners until a couple of years ago, and now we’re seeing deer where we’ve never seen them before.
Commissioner Riordan I’d like the Commissioners to process what we’ve heard and talked about today. We need to look at addressing some of this for this season. We have an immediate need to address some of this on point restrictions.
Steve Padilla In punishing for poaching, change the magistrate system. If a game warden busts someone poaching, he now appears before the local magistrate, and by creating a new system, Game Department violators would go before a state governor-appointed judge. Why does the State of Colorado get more deer than we do?
Commissioner Pino A study that was done for deer improvement in western New Mexico, but the Jicarilla area wasn’t included. Why wasn’t that area included in that study? Also, 2-B is a good unit. Is it because it’s close to Jicarilla or is it because of a habitat issue?
Michael Rivera Private landowners should be included in poach and trespass.
Steve Padilla Another thought, why not 100% draw on public land, and on private land, you set the numbers.
Commissioner Riordan Self-regulation on private land is a great idea. We understand what private landowners and ranchers bring to wildlife and they are great stewards of the land and we’re there to try and create a resource for them to utilize and promote wildlife.
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya Outreach and education for the Department is a priority of mine. The Department could renew its role and commitment to wetlands acquisition and maintenance of those wetlands and the acquisition of water rights.
Commissioner Riordan Could we find out what water rights we have for La Joya?
Director Thompson There are sufficient water rights to currently operate those aras. The difficulty in recent years is that there hasn’t been sufficient liquid water. Now, whether there are sufficient water rights to achieve some additional objectives that are identified is another matter, but currently we aren’t actually challenged by having water rights as much as by having liquid water.
Commissioner Riordan I’d like to identify how much we have in water rights on all 3 of our properties--Casa Colorado, La Joya, and Bernardo. We do have 2 wells on Bernardo and 1 on Casa Colorado. I propose that the Department come up with a recommendation as to how we can keep water on Bernardo for both wildlife viewing and to have a constant wetland on La Joya as well as Bernardo.
Commissioner Henderson The Department is providing the Land Use Committee with their priorities where we have additional opportunities and then discuss actions we’ll take.
Commissioner Riordan I’d like to know if it’s feasible for the Department to open up some of our refuges like La Joya to create opportunities for turkey hunting without impacting the rest of wildlife.
Tod Stevenson We do have some issues claiming that water on the Bernardo. What’s happened within the last 2-3 years, in flooding the quagmire, the reason for that is because of our contracts with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. One thing we’ll have to do is work with major competition.
Commissioner Riordan If we need to go ahead and purchase additional water rights and use our wells and transfer those water rights onto that Bernardo area that’s what we’re suggesting doing. That way we’re creating a constant habitat for waterfowl.
Director Thompson The Gaining Access into Nature Program has some prospects to address several things. We have a program that will benefit hunters and anglers. The Department has started a 2-pronged approach to information about wildlife management areas. Part of it is to identify the various kinds of activities supporting this broad range of potential users that would be acceptable for all wildlife management areas. A second part is to identify the various management and maintenance needs in a comprehensive way across all those properties that will be necessary to insure that we can support the rest of it. Commissioner Riordan R.J., can you address in your thoughts for future discussion depredation control for the private landowner when they’re trying to increase their deer herds? Give the Commission a couple of alternatives that we can at least discuss before the June meeting?
AGENDA ITEM NO. 7. Closed Executive Session
MOTION: Commissioner Arvas moved to enter into a Closed Executive Session pursuant to Section 10-15-1 (H)(2)(7)(8) NMSA 1978, of the Open Meetings Act, to discuss for limited purposes personnel matters, litigation, and land acquisitions. Commissioner Alfredo Montoya seconded.
Roll Call Vote:
Commissioner Arvas – yes
Commissioner Henderson – yes
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya - yes
Commissioner J. Montoya – yes
Commissioner Pino – yes
Commissioner Riordan – yes
Motion carried unanimously.
MOTION: Commissioner Alfredo Montoya moved to come out of Executive Session and reconvene into Regular Session.
Commission Arvas seconded.
Roll Call Vote:
Commissioner Arvas – yes
Commissioner Henderson – yes
Commissioner Jennifer Montoya – yes
Commissioner Alfredo Montoya – yes
Commissioner Pino – yes
Commissioner Riordan – yes
Motioncarried unanimously.
Chairman Riordan We’ve come out of Executive Session. The matters discussed in the Closed Executive Session were limited to the items on the agenda for the Closed Session. No action was taken in the Closed Session.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 8. Adjourn
MOTION: Commissioner Arvas moved to adjourn. Commissioner Jennifer Montoya seconded.
VOTE: Voice vote taken. All present voted in the Affirmative. Motion carried unanimously.
Meeting adjourned at 5:25 p.m.

Bruce C. Thompson, Secretary to the Date
New Mexico Game Commission

Guy Riordan, Chairman Date
New Mexico Game Commission