Santa Fe, NM – Today, Attorney General Raúl Torrez filed a lawsuit against Erik Briones and other property owners in San Miguel County who are illegally and unconstitutionally depriving the public of access to the Pecos River. Many of the landowners have threatened members of the public with physical violence if they see citizens lawfully fishing, streaming or wading in the streams adjacent to their property.
“We filed this lawsuit to ensure every New Mexican’s right to access our state’s rivers and streams,” said AG Torrez. “The New Mexico Supreme Court correctly interpreted our state constitution and ruled that wealthy landowners cannot erect barriers to prevent anglers and others from walking, wading, or floating on the riverbed. While we respect the private property rights of landowners along these waterways, we expect them to follow the law and take down illegal barriers that restrict access to natural resources that belong to all of our citizens.”
The complaint filed by the New Mexico Attorney’s Office seeks to enjoin the defendants from blocking access to any river or stream crossing their land and to remove barriers that threaten the safety of anglers and outdoorsmen in violation of the New Mexico Constitution.
The counts of the lawsuit are as follows, Count I, depriving the public of access to the Pecos River in violation of the New Mexico Constitution, Count II, Public Nuisance, and Count II, Declaratory Judgment – meaning to declare that the Pecos River is a public waterway, that defendants are violating the Constitution and to declare that defendants do not have the right to defend their river-adjacent property with deadly force or threats of violence.
A copy of the complaint with images of these Constitutional violations is attached, along with our motion for preliminary injunction.