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The New Mexico Wildlife Federation is declaring victory for sportsmen and other public land users as the Chaves County Commission voted Thursday to reject three closure applications on roads that access more than 60,000 acres of public land.

The proposed closures included a five-mile section of Picacho Road, submitted by Helen Henderson; a 4.7-mile section of Picacho Road, submitted by H.C. “Hot Shot” Hendricks; and a 2-mile section of County Road 42, submitted by Steven Ellyson.

Following the landowners’ requests, the NMWF and ACCESS New Mexico organized an emergency sportsmen’s meeting in Roswell, at which approximately 70 area residents discussed options for how to stop the applications from moving forward. The residents helped collect petition signatures and encouraged members of the public to write to the Chaves County Commission, urging them to leave the roads open.

Collectively, more than 3,100 signatures were delivered to the commission Thursday.

The NMWF and ACCESS say they are now working to regain access to Game Management Unit 32 after a five-mile section of Felix Canyon Road was closed last year following a tense battle. The entities are proposing access via a two-track easement on public land around the closure and will submit their final application to the Bureau of Land Management later this year.