Poor road maintenance leaves residents wanting closure, hunters upset

CHAVES COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) - The fight over closing access roads to public lands continues. After losing access to a portion of Felix Canyon Road last year, concerns are rising over losing another access road to public lands.

Residents on Picacho Road want to see the road closed because they believe they can maintain it better than the county. Not everyone is on board with that idea.

Miles down the bumpy path of Felix Canyon Road lies Picacho Road — a stretch that has recently sparked a lot of debate.

“The concerns are that if we keep getting locked out we’re going to have nothing left out there,” explained Chaves County resident Mark Pantuso.

Picacho Road, which runs through Chaves and Lincoln counties, is an access road to public lands used for hunting, fishing, and hiking. People are scared they may soon lose that access.

“We have lost about 50 percent of the access to public lands and we don’t have any more to give,” Pantuso said.

Recent filings in the Chaves County Commission show residents want portions of the road closed because they feel it’s poorly maintained and hurting their livelihoods.

“The road is not being maintained good enough for us to conduct business on. We would like to make it better,” said Mickey Henderson, Picacho Road resident.

To maintain it at their own expense, neighbors believe closing off the five-mile stretch of Picacho road is the way to go.

“We have to have the road vacated to make improvements, and my neighbors and I are willing to get together and we have equipment and we have the material to lay down on the road,” she said.

However, the county roads department says it could enter an agreement to have work done by a private party, something that has yet to be discussed. No matter how the road gets fixed, outsiders who use it want it to stay open.

“That’s the most important thing to a hunter today is access to a public land,” Pantusosaid.

The road department says crews have worked on the 20 mile stretch more than once over the past year to maintain the road.

The five-mile stretch Henderson spoke of is not the only road access up for debate. For more information and a petition against the road closure, click here.


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