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New Mexico Access Update

Posted: 06/08/2021
By: Hattie Johnson

In March of 2020, we updated our membership on a case our affiliate club, Adobe Whitewater Club of New Mexico, brought to the New Mexico Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the State Game Commission’s power to grant private landowners non-navigable certificates. At every level, the privatizing of streams and rivers in New Mexico has skirted due process, benefitted rich and largely out-of-state landowners, and is illegal.


Those certifications have resulted in dangerous fences and barricades across rivers, blocking access to paddlers. Despite this pending case, a federal court directed the NM Game Commission to make decisions on five new pending applications. The hearing will take place at 9am on June 18th, 2021.


The applications to privatize can be found on the NMGF Proposals Under Consideration page and include:


  • Rancho Del Oso Pardo, Inc., (Rio Chama upstream from Chama)


  • River Bend Ranch, LLC (Upper Pecos River real estate development)


  • Chama II, LLC, dba Canones Creek Ranch (Rio Chama downstream from Chama)


  • Fenn Farm Ranch (Rio Penasco, SE New Mexico)


  • Three Rivers Cattle Ltd. Co (intermittent Three Rivers and Indian Creek in Lincoln and Otero counties)


The New Mexico Paddlers Coalition submitted written comments last week to the Game Commission making an extremely compelling case to deny these above applications. Other impressive comment letters from the Adobe Whitewater Club (AWC), New Mexico River Outfitters Association, NM Wildlife Association, NM Wilderness Alliance, NM Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers,  Senator Martin Heinrich, and former chair of the Game Commission Joanna Prukop are sure to give the Commission pause on the 18th. See this great write up from AWC with links to all letters.


The Game Commission’s “non-navigable waters rule” prohibits public comments directly to the Commission at the hearing. However, if you are interested in joining their meeting to provide a public comment during the general comment period starting soon after 9:00 am, please reach out to

American Whitewater

Hattie Johnson

Phone: 970-456-8533
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