Saturday Shoutout / Stalking Your Rights

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Dangerous precedents are being set in the New Mexico State House which could effect angler access everywhere.

In another great, and important, piece from Matt Copeland of Stalking The Seam, we learn that tide of anti-democratic sentiment has stripped New Mexico state residents of rights which are clearly granted in their constitution and upheld by their Subprime Court.

Copeland writes- 

“Is it unconstitutional to bar New Mexican anglers from wading their rivers? Probably. The Attorney General and State Supreme Court have said as much. Does that make a difference if John and Jane Q. Public can’t afford to prove it? Nope, not one bit. Have fishing access opponents added that up? You bet they have. And at the moment, the calculus looks pretty solid from their perspective.

New Mexico Wildlife Federation Executive Director Garrett VeneKlasen sees the debate from a different angle.”

“Passing laws to remove rights is the essence of anti-democracy,” he said. “You may or may not care about stream access. But you have to care about the precedent of the statehouse removing your rights. If we don’t stand-up together, we’re going to lose our incredible heritage in a single generation.”

Learn more, including how this effects you, at STALKING THE SEAM.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “Saturday Shoutout / Stalking Your Rights

  1. Restriction or loss of river access rights and development that negatively impacts water quality are the two most critical issues facing America’s anglers today. Mr. Copeland’s point that money is the leverage tool that can potentially submarine legal precedent and common sense. One of the best ways to counter money is numbers of voices speaking out against it.

    It is likewise important to understand all the issues and facts. Take the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge by a group of ranchers and timber advocates. At first glance you may have a tendency to agree and support them. It appears to be the little guy, the common man versus the big bad Federal wolves. Make no mistake – ranchers do have it tough and the logging industry has seen better days. And the Feds have done a rather poor job of managing our public land.

    But underneath it all, it is important to remember that land is “public” – it belongs to you, me, everyone who pays taxes and votes. The Feds are tasked with managing that land in balance for everyone – hikers, fishers, bird watchers, loggers, ranchers, off road riders, etc. The ranchers have been able to run cattle on that land at cheap rates and some now assume that benefit “is their right” and have uncontrollably overgrazed areas especially riparian habitats thus negatively impacting the quality of the land and water that flows through it. They also fence and lock their gates unlawfully restricting access to the rest of us. Likewise, logging firms have at times “expanded” the permitted boundaries and gotten away with essentially free timber at the “public’s expense”. Choosing a horse to back in that race isn’t a clear black & white issue.

  2. I am not sure how to take this article, growing up in North Alabama, owning 200 acres with a creek and a stream running through it, I know the land owners issues but I also understand that of the Fisherman. In some states if one person owns both sides of the flowing waterway they own that stretch of water, where as in TX you do not own the water flowing through. It can be a very complicated issue. Being that my family owned property we would allow access if we were asked before hand weither it be you drive up just before fishing or 2 weeks ahead. If the individual didnt ask we politely asked them to leave.

  3. I can only speak of what goes on in PA. One of the problems here is water access also. A lot of land has been posted now where before you had access. One of the main reasons is that people don’t carry out their garbage and ruin it for everyone else. The other problem is that we live in a litigious society where someone going across your land to get to the water winds up hurting themselves and suing, and one of the factors is that the land owner did not post the land, so now it get posted. I know, it sounds crazy, but it has happened. I have always found out who owns the land and then contact the land owner to ask for permission, some land owners would have me sign a hold harmless agreement so that if I hurt myself on their land that I could not sue. For one, I am not that type of person but these are the extremes that land owners have to go to now. The other problem with posted land is that in our state there is a growing number of guide services that lease from private land owners so that they can bring in their clients. Our big fishery is great lakes steelhead, and with all of the posted land it is nearly impossible for the average guy/gal to just go out and fish. I can see both sides of the story, but for the average guy like me who buys a fishing license, trout /salmon stamp,and Lake erie trib stamp this becomes very frustrating when there is less and less access to the tribs because of more and more posted land. In PA if you own land on both sides of the stream, you own the stream bed also. The only way to fish it is if you are floating it, and you can not touch bottom. What was once an enjoyable experience to go fishing has not become a nightmare just to figure out where you can and cannot go even before getting your feet wet. I remember when the tuff part was figuring out what run you wanted to hit first.

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