Sport Fisherman Plead With Governor To Stop Gila Diversion

Nov 15, 2013

Credit Jessica Wilson via Flickr

Eleven sportsmen representing various wildlife recreation groups addressed a letter to Governor Susana Martinez today asking that she not allow the proposal to create a dam in the Gila River.

The Interstate Stream Commission of New Mexico is looking at a proposal to use funding from the 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act to divert water from the river in Southeastern New Mexico.

The Gila is the last untapped river in the state.

Wildlife advocates say it could cause harm to various animals in the area including some endangered species like the southwest willow  flycatcher and the loach minnow.

Dutch Salmon with the Gila Conservation Coalition says the Gila River is likely the last example of what a free flowing river looks like.

“When it rains hard it floods, when it doesn’t rain much it’s low water," Salmon explained. "It functions as a big natural process for fish and wildlife and birds. It’s pretty much in its natural state.”

Salmon said the proposal would include a pipeline and a canal in what is now a mostly untouched area frequented by fishermen and hikers.

The Gila River supports a $2.89 billion-dollar revenue from river-related recreation. 

If the proposal is met by the state, 66-million-dollars from the Arizona Water Settlements Act will be available for use to create the dam.