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Partnership will reopen road to 20,000 acres of public hunting land in Gila National Forest

Partnership will reopen road to 20,000 acres of public hunting land
SANTA FE – Hunters and other outdoor recreationists will regain vehicle access to more than 20,000 acres of public land through a road-building partnership between the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the Gila National Forest.

The two agencies will split the cost to construct a 1/2-mile road to reroute Forest Road 886 and bypass a private mining claim in the Black Range of the Gila National Forest known as the Royal John Mine. Owners of the claim closed the road to the public about 10 years ago, denying hunters vehicle access to prime deer, elk and turkey country in Game Management Unit 24.

The new road is expected to be completed before the 2013-14 big-game hunting seasons.

Department funding for the project will come from Open Gate, a program funded by hunters and anglers through the purchase of Habitat Management and Access validations required with each hunting or fishing license. The program’s objective is to work with landowners and land-management agencies to provide access to more hunting, fishing and trapping opportunities on public and private lands.

The new road will give hunters and trappers access to remote lands that hold healthy populations of deer, elk, turkeys, bears, cougars, furbearers and a number of small-game species. It also will give the public a chance to enjoy other recreational opportunities such as hiking, horseback riding and camping.

“This project will resolve a long-standing issue for many of our public land users,” Silver City District Ranger Russell Ward said. “We are very proud to be able to partner with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. This project is a fantastic example of the“Open Gate program to improve access to National Forest lands by our public land users.”

For more information about the Open Gate program, please visit the department website, www.wildlife.state.nm.us, click on the hunting tab and select Open Gate.

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