Heinrich Calls For Reforms To State Program That Prevents Fair Access To Elk Hunting On New Mexico Public Lands

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich


WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) sent a letter to New Mexico state officials calling for reforms to the state’s Elk Private Lands Use System, or EPLUS program, noting that the current structure favors wealthy and out-of state residents.

“Each year, the so-called ‘EPLUS’ program takes thousands of opportunities to hunt elk on our public lands away from average hunters and instead gives these public land hunting opportunities to the wealthiest few. While this may benefit the Department of Game and Fish financially through higher license fees for non-residents, the opportunity to hunt on public lands should be allocated fairly, and those able to pay $10,000 or more for a hunt should not get to buy their way to the front of the line to hunt on public lands,” Heinrich wrote.

In the letter, Sen. Heinrich pointed to the economic impact of increasing outdoor reaction opportunities for New Mexicans.

“In addition to the tradition and food source that is so important to generations of hunters in New Mexico, ensuring fair outdoor opportunity for residents helps us compete to bring businesses to New Mexico. In choosing where to locate and bring jobs, outdoor recreation is increasingly important to attract new business to New Mexico. Ensuring fair opportunity for resident hunting on public lands is an important component of the outdoor recreation economy and a critical part of competing with other states to bring in new businesses and jobs in the future,” Heinrich wrote.

The letter, addressed to New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Director Michael Sloane and New Mexico State Game Commission Chair Sharon Salazar Hickey, also was sent to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham; the New Mexico State Game Commission; Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth; Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca; Senate Conservation Committee Chair Liz Stefanics; Senate Conservation Committee Vice-Chair Antoinette Sedillo Lopez; House Speaker Brian Egolf; House Minority Leader James Townsend; House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Chair Matthew McQueen and House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Vice-Chair Angelica Rubio.

Read the full text of the letter here.