Early in 2021 the New Mexico state lawmakers were considering legislation that would have a profound impact on the future of conservation, hunting and fishing in our state. As some of us discussed these issues with sportsmen, outfitters, landowners, other outdoorsmen, and law makers, we realized that many of the local pro-sportsman conservation chapters were reticent to assert an opinion one way or another. That is somewhat understandable, the issues are complicated with many conflicting viewpoints, and no one wants to alienate potential donors.
Vocal advocacy is uncommon on the local or chapter level, at least in New Mexico, so as a board we carefully considered the pros and cons of getting involved in public policy debates. We decided, according to our own mission statement we are obligated to participate in the proliferation of sensible, conservation minded public policy. The board also agreed that whether or not we publicly support or oppose certain issues, programs, legislation, etc., we will endeavor to inform and educate the outdoor community as well as the general public about them. One goal is to make available to everyone, easily accessible, understandable, verifiable facts about all things conservation. This includes, not only facts and figures about hunting and fishing, but also economic and social data like “what’s the boost in gross receipts at restaurants in certain communities during elk season” or “how many single parent families participate in fishing derbies across the state.” These are the things that can show communities the value of outdoor pursuits from other perspectives. Another is to work directly with groups and individuals with a true interest in science-based, commonsense conservation.
Immediately, our COO, Robert Espinoza Sr. went to work. He completely renovated the DSCNM website to make it more professional, attractive, and interactive, but the most important addition is a Conservation Facts page. We are also working on building a network of allies and partners to cooperate with on different issues.
New Mexico consists of around 47% public land, so national issues of wildlife management and conservation are local issues for our sportsmen. As the DSC chapter system progresses westward issues like Endangered Species Act, corner crossing, stream access, lead free ammunition, harvest quotas, resident–non-resident tag allocation, wildlife data collection procedures, species classification, and so much more will be profoundly important to individual chapters. Our goal for this effort at DSCNM is to protect wildlife and the outdoor way of life, infuse some rationality into public policy on conservation, and develop associations beneficial to that purpose. We will continue to support the programs and activities that we always have, and others, but moving forward DSCNM will be committing significant resources to advancing public policy for New Mexico that is beneficial to wildlife conservation while preserving the freedoms sportsmen and women.
Cody C. Hudson, DSCNM Board President