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Anglers celebrate New Mexico public access victory


Anglers and the fishing tackle industry in the state of New Mexico are celebrating a court ruling that has reaffirmed the right of the public to walk or wade in waters on privately owned land.

The ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court follows its unanimous decision in March to strike out a regulation that allowed landowners to close access to streams flowing through their properties.

The New Mexico Chapter of the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA), along with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and Adobe Whitewater Club of New Mexico, had filed a suit in 2020 asking the court to nullify the ruling as unconstitutional. That ruling overturned the so-called Non-Navigability Rule and voided closures adopted previously on several of the country’s streams.

“We are pleased to see this final ruling on stream access in our state,” said Joe Gay, New Mexico BHA policy advisor and former Chairman. “However, it should not come as a surprise to either anglers or landowners. In 1945 the same court issued much the same opinion – that all waters in our state are owned by the public and may be used for fishing, boating and other recreation provided the public do not trespass over private property to enter or exit the stream.”

BHA President and CEO Land Tawney heralded the court’s ruling as a win for New Mexico – and a win for public access.

“This is a great day for New Mexicans from all walks of life,” Tawney said. “This decision solidifies that we, the people, own and have the right to access our public waters. A big, hearty thank you goes to those individuals who stepped up. Your courage and steadfastness breathe hope to others who are facing similar challenges in other states. Let’s go fishing!”

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