To The Point – 11/10

Splitting Hairs ….
Comments I get after a column is published are always welcome and appreciated — some are more colorful than others. In September I spent a great deal of space on the game management issues landowners and land managers dealt with this fall. In response, the office had a fairly irate call …

from a gentleman in the southwestern part of the state demanding an apology to sportsmen across the state as well as a retraction of Caren Cowan’s comments regarding the funding of the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish (NMDGF).

Among other things, I stated that “about half of the NMDGF budget is funded by the fees paid by non-resident hunters.” He was right, I was wrong . . . it might actually be more than that.
Here are the specifics: The NMDGF has an annual budget of approximately $32 million dollars. Eleven million of that comes from the federal government in the form of grants, some of them based on hunting and fishing licenses issued. When licenses are a consideration in funding grants, the feds don’t distinguish between resident and non-resident licenses. So without a detailed bookkeeping exercise, to pinpoint exactly how much comes from non-residents is complex at best. However, it is safe to say that the funds are from federal tax dollars, so it seems fair to split that money equally between resident and non-resident pocketbooks.
The real differences in the budget come in hunting licenses purchased by residents and non-residents. A look at the three major undulant species tells the whole story. According to the Game Department, draw results for 2010-2011 were as follows:

PRONGHORN ANTELOPE
78-10-12% Split Actual Draw Results 2010-2011


Licenses    Percent of Lics.    Lic. Fee    Revenue    Percent of $
Resident    1348         79.3%                     $63.00     $84,924.00      44.9%
Non-Res       351          20.7%                   $297.00    $104,247.00    55.1%
Total 1699                                                         $189,171.00    100.0%

DEER
78-10-12% Split Actual Draw Results 2010-2011


Licenses    Percent of Lics.    Lic. Fee    Revenue           Percent of $
Resident    29020        88.5%                    $39.00      $1,131,780.00    47.2%
Non-Res      3777          11.5%                  $335.00     $1,265,295.00    52.8%
Total 32797                                                        $2,397,075.00    100.0%

ELK
78-10-12% Split Actual Draw Results 2010-2011


Licenses    Percent of Lics.    Lic. Fee*    Revenue        Percent of $
Resident    16337        80.7%                    $80.00      $1,306,960.00      35.8%
Non-Res     3910         19.3%                     $600.00    $2,346,000.00     64.2%
Total 20247                                                       $3,652,960.00     100.0%

 

*For ELK and DEER, License fee equals total revenue divided by total number of licenses issued by resident type to yield average revenue per license, due to multiple fee types available for those species
In the Tombstone Unified School District from the 1950s to the 1970s where I learned arithmetic, 55 percent, 51 percent and 64 percent were over half. So yes, kind sir, non-residents are paying over half of the costs to run the NMDGF.

For an even more stark comparison, let’s look at the resident versus non-resident license fees. The New Mexico resident hunter pays $50 for an antelope licenses according to the New Mexico Statutes 17-3-13 License Fees. For that same license a non-resident pays $260. For a resident elk bull or either sex tag, the fee is $80 — the non-resident fee for the same tag is $525.
For species more rare, like oryx and ibex, the state goes even further to favor the resident hunter. For these tags a New Mexican pays $150 and $100 respectively, while the non-resident is hit for $1,600 each.
There is a survey floating around on the web asking if New Mexico hunters would be willing to pay $20 per license more to reduce the number of non-resident licenses sold in the state. Of course the answer is yes . . . but $20 isn’t going to come anywhere close to offsetting the loss of non-resident sales and those who are spreading the message that for $20 bucks you can make up a budget over half the NMDGF budget should be ashamed. Those who are buying this load of nonsense need to learn the facts and apply basic math. No wonder our state and our country are in the biggest budget crisis of our lifetime . . .  at least so far.
Resident hunters are paying five to six times less than the non-resident just for the basic license, not counting all the additional economic benefit they bring to the state. The proponents of this misinformation are the same folks who are espousing that because all wildlife belongs to “the public” they should have the right to pursue it wherever it is; eliminating landowner tags and eliminating the licenses for guides and outfitters. Yet what have these groups done to assist wildlife populations and/or the NMDGF?
It is worth noting that the New Mexico Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife presented the Department with a $50,000 donation at their annual banquet in Albuquerque in September. They are one of the few wildlife groups who recognize the responsibility of the hunter or the birdwatcher or the wildlife photographer to join with the Game Department and landowners and managers to benefit wildlife. They don’t expect the free ride that is being demanded as a “right” by others.

The Rest Of The Story . . .
As to the rest of the allegations made by my caller, ranchers, cattlemen and the Cattle Growers’ don’t steal hunting opportunity (or anything else) from anybody. If it were not for these people providing water and habitat on private, federal and state trust lands, there wouldn’t be any hunting opportunity for anyone.
If there are renegades out there who are illegally blocking access to federal or state trust lands, let NMCGA and the proper authorities know and so the appropriate action can be taken.
If you want to call NMCGA and complain about its’ policies and work, at least join the Association. To do that you can go to www.nmagriculture.org or call 505/243-9515. Even better, after joining, come to a meeting to learn about the issues and help develop policies!
I sometimes think I am preaching to the choir . . . maybe not so much.

Everyone Is A Critic
In early October I made a rare venture into a movie theater. I have avoided them almost religiously over the past decade because I don’t want even a fraction of one red cent that I work to earn to go to the vast majority of movie stars who use their celebrity to harm the ranching industry, the West and American families.
The last movie I saw in a theater was Seabiscuit, which deserved a visit to the “big screen.” It was another race horse movie that drew me back to the theater
. . . on Michelle’s hard earned money.    
We saw Secretariat, chronologically documenting the life and history of the last Triple Crown Winner the world has seen. The deeper story is about the will to honor family history and saving the family operation, the belief in one’s self and the will to win — a storyline that hit all too close to home, and where there is no happy ending like that Penny Cheney Tweedy was able to achieve. But that’s for another day.
The story this Disney movie told was artfully done and an enjoyable, if not completely dry-eyed, afternoon. It was gratifying that although the theater wasn’t full, those assembled clapped and cheered at the end.
Then I made the mistake of listening to Rush Limbaugh, the next day, who had also seen the movie its opening weekend. He had come across a review of the movie entitled “Secretariat: A gorgeous, creepy American myth.” Written by Ander O’Hehir and carried on Salon.com, the subhead read: Diane Lane shines in a Tea Party-flavored, Christian-friendly yarn about one big horse and our nation’s past.
He goes on to write: “Secretariat” is a work of creepy, half-hilarious master-race propaganda almost worthy of Leni Riefenstahl, and all the more effective because it presents as a family-friendly yarn about a nice lady and her horse.
Mr. O’Hehir apparently felt that because the movie focused on a family and a way of life in the late 1960s and early 1970s instead of the political events of that time, that there weren’t families that had or have nice lives. Because the words Vietnam and Nixon were never mentioned, the movie was apparently dishonest, never mind the war protest play it took the Tweedy daughter to get staged at her school. The review also overlooked the fact that the racing world is a multicultural place and long has been. Although there was the normal (or I thought was the norm) chain of command that is necessary for any functioning capital enterprise, there was the respect and appreciation that we have all been taught throughout our lives and are part of our core values. I could go on, but to give this trashy review any more weight is simply unfair.
I will admit that there probably is not the number of families that are able to live as Ms. Cheney’s did, but to call the film a work of creepy, half-hilarious master-race propaganda is so far beyond any reality I am familiar with (even spending most of my days with agenda driven bureaucrats), I am beginning to wonder just what world I live in.

Then there was Tuesday
The outrage and disgust I felt about the movie review on Monday was a nice warm-up to the second week of the Water Quality Control Commission’s (WQCC) hearing on the New Mexico Environment Depart
ment’s (NMED) Petition to designate all perennial waters within Wilderness Areas within U.S. Forest Service (USFS) as Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRWs). The sheer of acronyms is probably your first clue, if you didn’t have one already, that this not a good place to be.
We spent four days in September in these hearings and it looks like there will be close to that amount of time burned in October. The first day was fairly explosive. The NMED opened the hearing with a statement that the balance of the process needed to be fast-tracked because the ONRW designation was important to “this Administration” and this Administration would be out at the end of December. The Department wanted oral closing arguments and immediate deliberation rather than the more traditional written closing comments that provide the commissioners a concise set of points that had been covered by seven or eight days of hearings and literally thousands of pages of testimony and exhibits. Fortunately, we prevailed in that argument.
Soon after that we learned that the NMED, the WildEarth Guardians, Amigos Bravos, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, and the other “conservation” groups had been meeting since the second day of the September hearing to craft a “negotiated amendment” on the anti-degradation policy portion of the proposal. The Environment Department’s attorney readily admitted that they had not included the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association or the other landowners and managers, saying that because we had not submitted amendments, we were not necessary to their negotiations. They claimed their notice via a single email to a single attorney a few days before the October hearing was adequate notice of the situation. It is worth noting that the email was not received in a timely fashion.
This turn of events really shouldn’t have been surprising. One of the primary concerns that NMCGA and others have had during this process has been the continually moving target of the petition and the process. Sitting in the room it has been difficult to determine who is on first and what version of the amendment and/or the petition is the topic of discussion.
The next bombshell hit when Alex Thal, Ph.D. attempted to testify on behalf of Catron and Otero Counties who he had prepared comments for. County policy dictates that such comments are signed by elected commissioners. Because those county commissioners were not able to make the trip to Santa Fe for the hearing, Dr. Thal was prohibited from testifying. The fix to that seemed to be to have that testimony presented during the public comment period. It would not have the weight of technical testimony, but it least it would be in the record, right? Wrong.
Dr. Thal was called away from the meeting after he was denied comment, but his assistant Bobbi Shearer was there to provide public comment. She was not allowed to provide the information because it was of a technical nature. So much for freedom of speech or an open public process.
At this writing, the outcome of this sweeping ONRW is still up in the air. The hearing concluded in October, there will then be written closing comments by all of the parties and the WQCC will deliberate on the petition to make a ruling. Stay tuned.

Joint Stockmen’s
If you are concerned with anything you have read here, agreeing or disagreeing, I urge you to make plans NOW to attend the 2010 meeting. There are few things certain at this point in time, other than we are going to see a major change in Santa Fe and there will be a challenging Legislature coming in early 2011. Registration information is available and the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North is running out of rooms! Call today to reserve yours — call 505/821-3333 and ask for the Stockmen’s rate of $79 plus tax.