Access to State Trust Land Increased For Sportspeople Just In Time for Deer and Elk Season
SANTA FE, NM – The State Land Office (SLO) and the Department of Game and Fish (DGF) today announced the completion of project work aimed to increase access to state trust land for licensed hunters just in time for the beginning of deer and elk hunting season, which kicks off today.
In March, 2020, SLO and DGF signed an Easement giving licensed sportspeople access to 8.8 million acres of state trust land. DGF paid the SLO $800,000 for access, with an agreement to partner with SLO for $200,000 worth of projects aimed to enhance access to state trust land.
The projects completed to date toward achieving that goal include:
- 67 new sportsperson access points including signage (20 vehicle access, 47 walk-in access)
- improvements completed to Luera Mountains Access Road in Catron County
- new Turkey Ridge campsite on Chupadera Mesa in Socorro County
“Working in tandem with the Department of Game and Fish to figure out how to increase access to state trust land to benefit our New Mexico sportspeople has been a priority of mine from day one,” Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard said. “Creating new access points, making improvements to roads that people rely on to travel in and out of hunts, and making more state trust land available for camping are part of our joint efforts to deliver on the promises included within the hunting Easement.”
The SLO and DGF worked collaboratively to identify and sign 67 new vehicle or walk-in access points where licensed sportspeople can access state trust land. The new and previously existing access points are mapped online and can be found here. They can also be found on popular hunting access apps like CarryMap.
The improvements made to the Luera Mountains Access road allows for clearance in most standard four-wheel drive vehicles, whereas before the work, it was only passable in an ATV or modified high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle.
Finally, the addition of a campsite at Chupadera Mesa in Socorro County will provide a brand new camping opportunity in one of the largest contiguous areas of state trust land in the state. The nearest camping opportunity on state trust land is over 22 miles away.
"The Department appreciates the State Land Office’s recognition of the importance of access to state trust lands for New Mexico’s sports people,” said New Mexico Department of Game and Fish director Michael Sloane. “Wildlife related recreation is an important economic driver in our rural communities and increased access is an important way to grow its positive effect on local communities."
At the end of July, the SLO launched pilot programs for new dispersed camping areas in the White Peak region as well as backpack camping permits in the Luera Mountains. The programs were aimed at people with deer and elk tags to hunt in the two areas. The backpack camping permits were all issued by mid-August, but permits for White Peak are still available. Applications can be found here.
In addition to announcing completed project work, SLO is also seeking volunteers to pioneer a first-ever Ambassador Program. White Peak experts who have utilized the White Peak area recreationally and continue to hunt or hike it, as well as SLO lessees in the area are encouraged to apply online.
Ambassadors are proactive communicators and positive liaisons between the SLO, recreational users, and lessees. Their objective is to understand the facts about the area, and be able to share that information with users as a resource, fostering positive interactions between the multiple users of state trust land.