New Mexico Wild celebrates ruling upholding constitutional right to stream access

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (March 1, 2022) – New Mexico Wild released the following statement today in response to the New Mexico Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the constitutional right of all New Mexicans to access and recreate on our state’s rivers and streams. Chief Justice Michael Vigil announced the unanimous decision of the Court that the Landowner Certification of Non-navigable Water Rule is unconstitutional. In his announcement, the Chief Justice also said that the Court unanimously found the issue of public access to streams to be of great public importance. The Court will next draft an order directing the Department of Game and Fish to repeal this controversial and unconstitutional rule, invalidating all existing certificates granted under the rule.

This welcomed decision recognizes and fully restores the constitutional right of all New Mexicans to access and recreate on streams and rivers, regardless of the ownership status of adjacent land. The Adobe Whitewater Club, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and the New Mexico Wildlife Federation brought the case and successfully beat back an attempt to unconstitutionally restrict access to our state’s public waters. New Mexico Wild filed an amicus brief in this case, supporting their arguments that the Non-navigability rule was unconstitutional.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for public lands and water access, a constitutional right of every New Mexican since before statehood. We’ve been working to repeal the misguided Non-navigable Rule since its promulgation because it unjustly restricts the access of anglers, boaters, hikers, birders, and other recreationists to certain public streams running through private lands. We will now watch attentively for the Department of Game and Fish to do as ordered and ensure that another unconstitutional rule is not promulgated again in the future. We look forward to continuing our work with land management agencies, private landowners, the public, and impacted communities to keep the health and ecological integrity of our state’s watersheds at the forefront of the conversation,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director at New Mexico Wild.