The New Mexico Legislature has passed a bill to end the ill-conceived Gila Diversion Project. It’s now awaiting Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s signature to become law.
The New Mexico Wildlife Federation has opposed the planned diversion project for years on the grounds that it would have taken water from the river to benefit only a handful of irrigators while having serious impacts on riparian habitats and wildlife.
In addition to ending the Gila Diversion, House Bill 200 specifies that federal money that would have been used for the project will now go to fund water supply projects to benefit communities in Southwestern New Mexico. The bill’s is passage a great win for wildlife, conservation and common sense.
New Mexico has wasted millions on planning for the Gila Diversion without coming up with any reasonable options. It’s past time to quit wasting time and money and move on to help preserve the Gila River while helping provide water to address community needs.
In other legislative news, Senate Bill 32, which bans trapping on public lands, narrowly passed the Legislature, 35-34 on the House Floor, and awaits action by the governor. The NMWF strongly opposed the bill and continues to call on the governor to veto.
The New Mexico State Game Commission recently enacted tighter restrictions on public land trapping, including limiting it around population centers and trailheads. The Legislature should have given the new rules time to take effect before considering any ban.
Much of the testimony in support of the anti-trapping bill focused on pets that had been caught in illegal, unregistered traps near population centers. NMWF disagrees with punishing responsible trappers for the actions of poachers who failed to follow regulations.
Regulated trapping is a legitimate use of a renewable wildlife resource and an important management tool. It’s imperative that New Mexico base its wildlife-management decisions on science.
Source:New Mexico Wildlife Federation E-Newsletter