WLA’s statement on New Mexico Supreme Court’s ruling in stream certification case
Santa Fe, NM – Today the New Mexico Supreme Court held that the state’s stream certification rule is unconstitutional. The rule was intended to provide clarification for both landowners, the public and law enforcement officials as to rights of public access on specific stream segments. Without such clarification, disputes and conflicts will undoubtedly continue. WLA is disappointed in this initial ruling. It is, however, just one aspect of a long and complex debate over public and private property rights not just in New Mexico but across the country. We are waiting to learn more in the detailed opinion yet to be released.
What is not being talked about, however, is the thing that matters most: the well-being of streams and all the fish and wildlife that depend on them. Outdoor recreation and time in the outdoors is vitally important to many Americans, but recreation should not be confused with conservation. In fact, outdoor recreation has become a $700 billion dollar industry generating industrial-scale impacts on fish and wildlife. As a result of development, recreation and intensive agriculture, we continue to lose wildlife habitat and wildlife species at an alarming rate, yet people continue to demand more and more access to places where wildlife have traditionally sought refuge, including on private land.
Many landowners, including those directly involved in this particular case, have played a leadership role in restoring streams and fisheries, and in conserving essential lands and habitats. Partnering with these landowners and ensuring their investments in sustaining fish and wildlife populations are protected should be the highest priorities. WLA will continue to fight to defend the rights of landowners to conserve and steward the land, water and wildlife resources in their care.
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