NMT Women’s Group Planned


The Women of NMT at 2016 Conclave

Due to the response to the special women’s program at this year’s conclave, New Mexico Trout is pleased to announce the formation of New Mexico Trout’s Women’s group. The women’s group will form and run under the bylaws of New Mexico Trout thus being able to take advantage of the existing Board of Director’s and its support. The only requirement will be that at least one person from the group fill an at large Board of Director’s position in the club.

NM Trout response to Jumping Mouse EA

On February 10, 2016, New Mexico Trout submitted a comment on the Santa Fe National Forest’s proposal to protect endangered New Mexico Jumping Mouse habitat on the Rio Cebolla in the Jemez mountains. While agreeing with most of the findings and plans, the comments address two areas of disaccord:

  1. There is no science-based reason to exclude non-consumptive, dispersed recreational users from the site, when cattle are responsible for the habitat degradation.
  2. The proposed quarter-mile gap between two exclosures (to allow cattle access to the Rio Cebolla) will result in habitat fragmentation and adversely affect stream quality and downstream recreation uses.

The entire document can be read Jumping mouse EA response.

New Mexico Trout’s response to the state fisheries plan

In a previous message we alerted NM Trout members that the NM Department of Game and Fish is seeking public comment on the draft of a new fisheries management plan that will help guide the department’s efforts into the future.

The Board of Directors has approved the letter below as the official response from the club. We encourage members to submit their own individual comments. A 129 MB, high resolution copy of the plan with excellent maps is available on the NMG&F website. A more compact version is available on the NM Trout website.

Public comments can be sent by email to DGF-StatewideFishPlan@state.nm.us. Please submit comments by October 31, 2015. For further information please contact Kirk Patten, Assistant Chief of Fisheries, at 505-476-8055.

October 20, 2015

Kirk Patten
Assistant Chief of Fisheries
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
1 Wildlife Way
Santa Fe, NM 87507

Dear Kirk:

This letter is the official response of New Mexico Trout to the draft Statewide Fisheries Management Plan recently issued by your department for public comment.
First, New Mexico Trout wishes to commend you and your organization for all the thought and hard work that is evidenced in the draft. It is comprehensive. It appears that every permanent body of public water in the State that holds fish is addressed. The draft plan clearly recognizes and attempts to balance the sometimes-competing interests of put and take anglers, wild trout anglers, and those anglers and non-anglers alike who are concerned about native fish and their habitats. The maps are excellent. We have recommended them to our members as destination guides. We applaud the addition of recreational stockings of Gila and Rio Grande Cutthroat trout to the native trout restoration plans documented in the draft.

However, we believe that parts of the management plan can be strengthened. In general we urge the Department to deemphasize stocking of triploid rainbows in streams with strong, self-sustaining populations of wild trout, particularly those streams that are not readily accessible by roads. A specific example is the plan to stock triploids in the Rio San Antonio below the Valles Caldera Preserve boundary. The two-mile reach from the boundary to the San Antonio Hot Spring is a Special Trout Water with a wild brown trout population. Access is by foot at the end of a rough 4WD road. The four mile reach downstream of the Hot Spring is in a rugged canyon and only partly accessible by trail from Highway 126. We see no benefit from triploid stocking of that six-mile stretch of the San Antonio to the anglers who are likely to fish it. There are other similar examples in the Draft, but this one is sufficient to illustrate our concerns.

A second area where the plan can be strengthened, in our opinion, is to increase the opportunities for angling for trophy trout; as for example is presently the case on the San Juan Quality Water below Navajo Dam. The tailwaters below El Vado and Abiquiu Dams on the Rio Chama are obvious candidates for catch-and-release designation. These designations are consistent with the DG&F objectives and strategies stated on p. 10 of the draft and reflect the preferences of the majority of anglers surveyed by the department. Specifically,
Strategy 2.1: “Collaborate with … [stakeholders] to establish broadly-supported resource-based management objectives”.
Strategy 4.1 “Monitor angler issues, interests, and satisfaction and employ findings to inform and evaluate management decisions.”

Strategy 4.5: “Continue to promulgate rules that protect fish stocks from overexploitation and equitably distribute fishing opportunity.”
Having additional trophy trout angling opportunities that would be facilitated by catch-and release regulations would be a huge attraction for local and out-of-state anglers. We strongly recommend implementing catch-and-release regulations on the Rio Chama below El Vado and Abiquiu dams.

A third area where the plan could be improved is in area of habitat restoration and remediation. Department of Game and Fish resources are limited and habitat restoration needs are large. The Department could leverage those resources by making a greater effort to use volunteers from angling and conservation organizations in its habitat restoration activities. The plan would benefit by making volunteer participation a specific objective.

In conclusion, New Mexico Trout thanks you and your team for this new fisheries management plan. We hope you give serious considerations to our suggestions and we look forward to helping you implement that plan in any way we can.

Sincerely yours,
Ronald E. Loehman
Conservation Chairman
New Mexico Trout PO Box 3276 Albuquerque, NM 8790-3276

Draft Fisheries Management plan released

plan cover

Cover, draft fisheries management plan

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has just released a draft fisheries management plan for the entire state of New Mexico. The draft is the product of a year and a half effort led by NMDGF Fisheries Manager, Kirk Patten, to update the current plan.  The plan contains a lot of detail that should be of interest to NM Trout members and NMDGF is specifically asking for our members’ comments on it.  Submit them on-line by October 31st  to DGF-StatewideFishPlan@state.nm.us.

The actual plan is a 23 MB download, so we have included a lower bandwidth copy.
September 2015 – draft fisheries management plan (5 MB pdf file).

Valles Caldera History and Changes Ahead

by Jerry Burton
From the July/August 2015 Newsletter
On October 1st, one of my favorite trout fishing places will change management. The Valles Caldera National Preserve will cease to be managed by a board of trustees, and will be managed by the National Park Service. I’m not sure what the change will bring to the trout fishery, even though I attended one of the public listening sessions held by the Park Service.
I have had experience as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist in working with the Park Service in managing a trout fishery in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Park provided the Service with office space at their headquarters and that was about all. Vehicles, equipment, and salaries were provided by the Service. My impression after several years of working with them was that the trout fishery was not a high priority – campgrounds and tourist attractions were.
d1460bd8-bb56-47dc-9212-9992622a1ae6The Park Service followed State fishing regulations, but the states provided no fisheries management. The same situation presently occurs at some of the premier national parks such as Glacier and Yellowstone. However, I get the impression that at the Caldera the New Mexico Department of Fish and Game will play a major role in management of the trout fishery. My hope is that it will continue be an outstanding trout fishery.
Over the years I have found that most people don’t know a lot about the Caldera and how it came to be what it is today. In 1854, after the United States and Mexico war, in order to encourage people to settle in New Mexico, Congress authorized the granting of 160 acres of land to anyone who would settle in New Mexico. Many Anglo-Americans took advantage of this offer and settled in the Las Vegas area. The problem was that the land these people settled on was part of a land grant given to the Cabeza de Baca family. Rather than have the courts resolve the situation the Baca family told the U.S. Survey General that they would accept in exchange for the Las Vegas property their choice of five parcels of land, each consisting of 100,000 acres from the public domain. Thus, in 1860, they chose as their first choice the Caldera, Baca number 1.
Over time most of the parcels were sold, as was Baca Number 1. The last owner before it was sold to the Federal government was Andrew Dunigan who before his passing told his sons to have the property put in public ownership. The rest of the story is very interesting and will be continued in the next newsletter.

Animas River Contaminated by Mine Waste 

From the July/August 2015 newsletter
DURANGO, CO - AUGUST 7: Kalyn Green, resident of Durango, stands on the edge of the river August 6, 2015 along Animas River. "I come down to the river every morning before work." said Green. "The river in a sense of calm for me." Over a million gallons of mine wastewater has made it's way into the Animas River closing the river and put the city of Durango on alert. (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

DURANGO, CO – AUGUST 7: Kalyn Green, resident of Durango, stands on the edge of the river August 6, 2015 along Animas River. “I come down to the river every morning before work.” said Green. “The river in a sense of calm for me.” Over a million gallons of mine wastewater has made it’s way into the Animas River closing the river and put the city of Durango on alert. (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

On 5 Aug, a retaining wall of a holding pond at the now retired Gold King mine was accidentally breached by workers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), releasing millions of gallons of contaminants into Cement Creek, a tributary of the Animas River. News reports and pictures showed the bright orange plume cascading through towns along the river, especially the recreation hot spot of Durango. This is one of the largest spills in the river since 1978, when the Sunnyside Mine breached the floor of Lake Emma high above Silverton, sending an estimated 500 million gallons of water and sludge into downstream waters. Nevertheless, the Gold King spill caused a spectacular, if transient, spike in concentration of total and dissolved metals in the Animas River – from arsenic to zinc – in a profile pretty typical of concentrated mine drainage oozing from old mines in the San Juan mountains. This mine has been slowly leaching and leaking contaminants into Cement creek for years, and was designated a Superfund cleanup site. The spill was caused during a remediation effort to install a pipe to drain and treat the backed up waters in the mine, but the amount of water and back pressure was underestimated and led to the blow out.

24b6afca-f405-4a03-8b30-36731bf147acMany are obviously concerned about the long term effects on people and fish along the popular recreation areas and populated regions along the Animas (note that thefisheries of the San Juan were not impacted by the spill). Recently, the EPA released data collected over the past two weeks, which shows surface water metal levels at 24 sampling locations along the watershed below the spill are “trending toward pre-event conditions.” Metal levels in the sediment are below the agency’s recreational screening level. However, environmental officials say their long-term concern centers around the potential for stirring up of sediment during “high-water events” and the sludge’s effect on people who are continually using or exposed to the water for long periods – several weeks – of time. The effects on aquatic life still remain unknown, state wildlife officials say, but no immediate widespread impacts have been observed.

Board Changes

The Board would like to welcome to our group Jon Goecke. Jon comes to us from his participation in the Project Healing Waters Program headed up by Dave Patton. Jon is a new resident to New Mexico and member to New Mexico Trout. He brought the idea to the board to be the club’s fishmaster, his duties will be to organize fishing outings for clubs members. He ran a similar program to take veterans hunting while living in Arizona. We would like to welcome Jon and his talents to the club and board of directors.

The board would also like to announce some changes within the existing group. Mike Maes has generously agreed to take over the membership chair duties from Brian Beaudoin who is moving on to chair the F3T and Conclave committees. We would like to thank them for their past efforts and support them in their new ones. If you see these gentlemen around please pass on some words of thanks for their efforts.