Sports Briefs 02-01-13

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Large Gila trout to be stocked in Lake Roberts

SILVER CITY – Anglers who visit Lake Roberts in southwestern New Mexico this weekend will have a rare chance to catch a large Gila trout after the Department of Game and Fish stocks 150 of the formerly endangered species into the lake.
The trout – retired brood stock from the Mora National Fish Hatchery – will be 15 to 16 inches long. They will join an existing population of rainbow trout, bass and sunfish in the lake. Bag limits for Gila and/or rainbow trout will remain the same: five fish per day and no more than 10 in possession. All anglers ages 12 and older must have a fishing license and appropriate stamps and validations.
Legal angling for Gila trout was reopened in the summer of 2007 after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service downlisted the species from endangered to threatened. The downlisting followed an intensive effort by the federal agency and the Department of Game and Fish to restore the native fish to much of its habitat in the Gila National Forest. The downlisting also allowed agencies to begin stocking more waters with Gila trout to provide more public angling opportunities.
The department is encouraging anglers to take advantage of angling opportunities at Lake Roberts before construction begins in March to renovate the dam and its spillway system to meet safety standards in case of extreme flood events. The lake level will drop 10 feet during renovations, limiting fishing opportunities.

Prairie chicken meetings scheduled

ROSWELL – The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has scheduled public meetings to discuss the implementation of a management plan for lesser prairie chickens. The plan includes management goals, objectives and on-the-ground activities throughout the range of lesser prairie chickens in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas.
Department biologists also will discuss the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposal for listing the lesser prairie chicken under the federal Endangered Species Act and its implications to eastern New Mexico.
Three public meetings have been scheduled in southeastern New Mexico, including Monday in Carlsbad, Feb. 6 in Roswell and Feb. 7 in Portales.
Game and Fish said it isextening an invitation to landowners, ranchers, farmers, industry representatives and any other interested parties to attend. For information, send email to grant.beauprez@state.nm.us.

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.”