Great outdoors

Outdoor legislation advances in Roundhouse

Compiled by Staci Matlock
editor@taosnews.com
Posted 2/28/19

More than 500 bills have been filed in the current session of the New Mexico Legislature, and quite a few have potential impacts on outdoor recreation, wildlife, land management and water. One …

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Great outdoors

Outdoor legislation advances in Roundhouse

Posted

More than 500 bills have been filed in the current session of the New Mexico Legislature, and quite a few have potential impacts on outdoor recreation, wildlife, land management and water. One proposes an end to coyote killing contests (Senate Bill 76), another renames the state Department of Game and Fish as the Wildlife Department (Senate Bill 203) and still another changes the hunting license fees (Senate Bill 382).

Here are few others worth watching as the race for approval from both the state House and Senate continues.

Outdoor Recreation division: Senate Bill 462, creates a division of Outdoor Recreation within the state Department of Economic Development. The bill has several sponsors and loads of advocates in the state, but it faces a tough haul to make it through the Senate and the House before the bell rings out the session in mid-March. It expands economic development to six departments. The division would oversee and promote outdoor recreation - already estimated as generating $9.9 billion in consumer spending - as an economic driver in the state.

The bill was scheduled for a hearing Tuesday (Feb. 26) before the Senate Conservation Committee. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has come out in support of the legislation.

Bikepacking: House Memorial 10 honors the contributions of devoted bikers who also camp, called New Mexico Bikepacking. The memorial, sponsored by Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces, would recognize a network of 1,450 miles of trails and roads across the state as bikepacking friendly. Recognizing the contributions of the network would be another way to market an outdoor recreation friendly state, particularly useful if the state approves creating a new office of Outdoor Recreation.

The loose network of bikepackers have already named a set of popular bicycle camping routes, according to the bill, including "the monumental loop in southern New Mexico, the New Mexico off-road runner parallel to the Río Grande, the Chama charmer, the Valles Caldera super volcano explorer and a night on the Caja del Rio."

The bill is currently before the full House. If approved it would go next to the senate. Find out more about bikepacking at bikepacking.com.

Wildlife corridors: Wildlife migrate for food supplies, habitat and water, sometimes along well-worn paths. When roads, fences and human developments break their path, it is usually deadly for animals who end up hit by vehicles or cut off from vital habitat. Senate Bill 228 would require state departments to identify and protect wildlife corridors. These corridors can be passes under highways for example.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Senator Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque, was approved by the Senate 24-18 Monday. It heads next to the House.

For more information on individual bills or to contact your lawmakers, visit nmlegis.gov or call their individual offices. Committee hearings and floor debates and votes are video livestreamed. The 2019 session ends March 16 at noon.

- Compiled by Staci Matlock

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