Access to Public Lands in New Mexico (2023–2024)

National Forest and BLM Lands

  • Extent: Approximately nine million acres of national forest and 13 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in New Mexico.
  • Recommendation: Contact the appropriate land management agency before hunting.
  • Private Land Adjacency: Many public lands in New Mexico are interspersed with private properties. Hunters must obtain written permission from landowners or leaseholders to cross private land for access to public land.
  • Lawful Use: It's unlawful to post or restrict lawful use of public land.

National Parks and Monuments

  • Hunting Restrictions: National parks and national monuments are generally closed to hunting, except certain BLM-managed national monuments:
    • Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument (575-751-4899)
    • Prehistoric Trackways and Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument (575-525-4300)
  • Valles Caldera National Preserve:
    • Unit 6B is closed to hunting and trapping, except for specific elk and turkey draw hunts.
    • Blaze Orange Requirement: Hunters must wear a minimum of 244 square inches of blaze orange.
    • Fees: A special-use permit fee ($35) and a 7-day entrance fee ($25) are required. NPS passes are accepted to waive the entrance fee.
    • Orientation and Permit: Hunters must obtain a special-use permit and attend an orientation before hunting.
    • More Information: Visit www.nps.gov/vall or call 575-829-4100.

National Wildlife Refuges (NWR)

  • Hunting Regulations: NWRs are closed to hunting unless specifically opened for hunting certain species under federal refuge regulations.
  • Nontoxic Shot Requirement: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service-approved nontoxic shot is required for hunting on all NWRs.
  • Specific Refuges Contact Information:
    • Bosque del Apache NWR (575-835-1828)
    • Bitter Lake NWR (575-622-6755)
    • Las Vegas NWR (505-425-3581)
    • Sevilleta NWR (505-864-4021)

Forest Service Lands

  • Access: Most national forest lands in New Mexico are open to public hunting and fishing.
  • Outfitter Permits: Outfitters and guides must obtain a permit to operate on national forest lands.
  • Vehicle Use: Vehicle-use restrictions may apply. It's unlawful to use vehicles in areas closed under the Habitat Protection Act.
  • Road Closures: Contact the relevant land management field office for late-season or winter closures and access restrictions.

Staying Informed About Controlled Burns

  • Controlled Burns: The U.S. Forest Service and other public land management agencies conduct controlled burns during fall. These prescribed fires are important for maintaining a healthy forest ecosystem and improving wildlife habitat.
  • Hunter Awareness: Hunters are encouraged to stay informed about these burns and check nmfireinfo.com for burn advisories. It's important to note that no refunds will be offered if a controlled burn affects your hunt area.

Specific Forest Service Lands

  • Sandia Ranger District: Restricted to bow and crossbow hunting only during established seasons.
  • Valle Vidal (Carson National Forest):
    • Seasonal Access: Closed May 1–June 30 on the west side and Jan. 1–March 31 on the east side.
    • Hunting Restrictions: Open to deer, elk, bear, and turkey hunting by draw only. Closed to all small-game hunting. Off-road travel is prohibited.
    • Camping Rules: Only in designated campgrounds or more than half a mile from the road.
    • Contact Information: U.S. Forest Service office in Questa at 575-586-0520.

Additional Information for Forest Service Lands

  • Visit www.fs.fed.us or contact the specific national forest for more information:
    • Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest: (928) 333-4301
    • Carson National Forest: 575-758-6200
    • Cibola National Forest: 505-346-3900
    • Coronado National Forest: (520) 388-8300
    • Gila National Forest: 575-388-8201
    • Lincoln National Forest: 575-257-4095
    • Santa Fe National Forest: 505-438-5300

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands

  • Public Access: Most land under BLM, including Wilderness Study Areas, is open to public hunting and fishing.
  • Responsibility of Hunters: Hunters and anglers must be aware of any restrictions applicable on these lands.
  • Permits for Outfitters: Outfitters and guides need permits from specific BLM districts.
  • Vehicle Restrictions: Off-road vehicle travel may have restrictions or prohibitions.
  • Regulatory Changes: Always check with local BLM offices for updates on special management units.
  • Specific BLM Contact Information:
    • Rio Bonito Acquired Lands: Roswell BLM office (575-627-0272)
    • Santa Cruz Lake Recreation Area: Taos BLM office (575-758-8851)
    • Rio Grande Recreation Area: Specific hunting zones and restrictions are detailed.

Continuing with the information on access to federal lands in New Mexico:

Military Reservations

  • Cooperation with U.S. Department of Defense: Some military reservations allow hunting, but hunters must obtain permission and understand access conditions directly from the military reservation.
  • Check-in Procedures: For some hunts, hunters may be required to sign in and out at check stations.
  • Potential Delays or Cancellations: Hunts may be delayed or canceled by the U.S. military, especially in certain units.

Specific Military Reservation Information

  • Kirtland Air Force Base: Contact at 505-846-7420.
  • Lake Holloman Wildlife Refuge: Contact at 575-572-7381.
  • Fort Bliss / McGregor Range:
    • Requirements: Access pass and proof of passing a state-certified hunter education course are required. Mentor-youth hunters are ineligible.
    • Blaze-Orange Vest: Mandatory for hunters.
    • Security Searches: Subject to security searches.
    • Big-Game Hunting: Draw only in McGregor Range (Unit 28).
    • Access Information: Visit https://ftbliss.isportsman.net/ or email for more details.

GMU 34 Specifics

  • Grapevine Canyon (McGregor Range Buffer Zone):
    • Access: Requires military permission.
    • Closure Possibility: Subject to closure during military training events.
    • Contact Information: Visit the mentioned website or email for access pass and information.

White Sands Missile Range

  • Access Details: Contact White Sands Missile Range at 575-678-7909 or 575-678-2993 for access information.

Forest Service & Military Closures

  • Public Safety: Hunts in portions of GMUs 10, 13, 18, 19, 20, 28, and 34 may be delayed or canceled for public safety reasons.
  • Closure Times: Usually occur between 3 p.m. and 8 a.m., requiring evacuation from closed areas.
  • Specific Area Closures: Detailed descriptions of closure areas in various GMUs due to missile firings or other military activities.
  • Closure Authority: Based on 36 CFR 261.53 (e) and 36 CFR 261.54 (e).

General Contact Information

For more detailed information on licenses, applications, harvest reporting, and general information, you can visit the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish website at www.wildlife.state.nm.us or contact them at 1-888-248-6866.

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.