51st legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2014


Timothy M. Keller and Roberto "Bobby" J. Gonzales









     WHEREAS, New Mexico has an arid climate that is typified by long periods of limited precipitation interspersed by infrequent heavy rainfalls or sudden snowmelts that are difficult for soil to absorb, leading to harmful runoff; and

     WHEREAS, the scarcity of water has made the considered use and conservation of water resources a foundational element in both New Mexico's culture and its economy; and

     WHEREAS, for centuries, New Mexican communities have based their livelihoods and many cultural traditions on irrigated agriculture; and

     WHEREAS, New Mexico's rugged landscapes, containing diverse populations of wildlife, have attracted generations of hunters and nature enthusiasts and are among the key attractions for the state's tourism industry; and

     WHEREAS, New Mexico is experiencing a multiyear drought that is creating exceptional strains on farmers and the state's wildlife resources; and

     WHEREAS, maintaining, or restoring, upper watershed health is an important element in assisting New Mexico's communities, industries and wildlife to meet water scarcity challenges; and

     WHEREAS, watershed health and restoration efforts typically require coordination among private businesses and organizations, as well as local, state, tribal and federal agencies; and

     WHEREAS, numerous state agencies participate in ongoing watershed restoration efforts; and

     WHEREAS, the dams, ponds and associated wetlands created by the North American beaver are known to increase groundwater percolation, which raises local groundwater tables and storage; and

     WHEREAS, beaver dams and ponds and their associated wetlands attenuate erosion, instream silt loading and other harmful effects associated with heavy rainfalls and sudden snowmelts; and

     WHEREAS, beaver ponds and their associated wetlands act as contaminant sinks and filters, enhancing downstream water quality; and

     WHEREAS, during extended periods of drought, beaver ponds and their associated wetlands greatly enhance the resiliency of riparian zones, including riverine plant communities and fish and wildlife populations; and

     WHEREAS, the department of game and fish has developed guidance for individual landowners regarding how to relocate beaver families to their land and how to mitigate or avoid problems created by beavers already on their land; and

     WHEREAS, New Mexico would benefit from a strategic plan for statewide beaver management designed to capture the full watershed benefits of beaver populations and minimize conflicts with other land uses, such as agriculture and the development of transportation infrastructure; and

     WHEREAS, the state of Utah recently adopted a statewide beaver management plan developed in a process that involved a wide range of public and private landowners, users and managers;

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the department of game and fish, the forestry division of the energy, minerals and natural resources department and the state land office be requested to develop recommendations jointly on how New Mexico may proceed to develop a statewide beaver management plan. The recommendations should include which agency should take the lead role for development, which stakeholder groups should be included in the development and a timeline and budget; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the department of game and fish, the forestry division of the energy, minerals and natural resources department and the state land office be requested to present their recommendations jointly to the appropriate interim committee or committees by September 1, 2014; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the director of the department of game and fish, the secretary of energy, minerals and natural resources, the commissioner of public lands and the co-chairs of the New Mexico legislative council.

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