In a room full of opposition, the Chaves County Commission Thursday voted to close the primary access road to Hunting Unit 32 and thousands of acres of public lands.
The now-private five-mile stretch of Felix Canyon Road served as the primary public access point to thousands of acres of recreational areas and public land, which hundreds of local sportsmen and women frequent every year, the home to trophy mule deer and Barbary sheep.
The New Mexico Wildlife Federation (NMWF) says the closure of the road violates Chaves County’s own stated road closure policy, which states that the commission “shall not permanently vacate a county road when the road will, in the foreseeable future, be necessary, beneficial, or valuable for public use as a county road … if it serves as primary access to recreational areas and public lands.”
“There is no other way around this — this was both an insult to constituents who showed to this meeting, and a blatant land grab,” said Garrett Vene Klasen, executive director of the NMWF. “With utter disregard and disrespect to every person in that chamber, the Chaves County Commission not only acted in direct opposition to the interests of sportsmen and women, but to all Chaves County residents and New Mexicans who have paid to maintain Felix Canyon Road and who deserve fair access to the public lands that they own.”
On April 26, the NMWF sent a letter to the Chaves County Commission stating its strong opposition to the closure of the road, citing the harmful impact it would have to the Chaves County economy and the overwhelming desire of local sportsmen to keep the road open. The NMWF says it did not receive a response. Numerous other area outdoorspeople also say they contacted the commission in opposition.
The Bureau of Land Management and New…