8th Apr, 2015

FOLLOW UP: HB 235 and SB 226 (Use of Public Water and Landowner Protection) in New Mexico

Gov. Martinez signs bill into law restricting NM stream access


By Dan Boyd / Capitol Bureau Chief
PUBLISHED: Friday, April 3, 2015 at 1:03 pm


Gov. Susana Martinez has signed into law a measure aimed at strengthening current state regulations restricting the ability of anglers to fish and wade New Mexico waters on private property.

The bill was prompted a non-binding 2014 opinion by then-Attorney General Gary King that state law did not prohibit such public access to streams running through private land.

It narrowly passed the House — via a 32-31 vote — on the next-to-last day of this year’s 60-day legislative session, which ended March 21. It had passed the Senate by a big margin earlier that same day.

Opponents claimed the measure, Senate Bill 226, would limit public access to beloved fishing spots, but backers said it would merely protect private property rights and would not necessarily restrict access.

Specifically, the bill says recreational users can’t walk or wade onto private property through “non-navigable public water” without written permission.

My colleague Deborah Baker wrote about the legislation earlier this week. You can find her story here.

Martinez did not provide an explanation of her decision to sign the bill in her executive message today to top-ranking senators.

Meanwhile, the Republican governor also signed 13 other bills into law today, including several measures dealing with hunting and fishing.

Martinez has now signed 37 bills into law from this year’s session and vetoed one —  a bill dealing with drug testing for racehorses. The governor has until April 10 to act on legislation passed during the session’s final days.


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