New Mexico EPLUS Landowner Authorization System

A topic that often comes up when working with Buyers looking for hunting property or ranches in New Mexico and Colorado is the landowner vouchers or permits which are also now called authorizations in New Mexico. In this article, we will discuss the New Mexico Eplus Landowner Authorization System and in a following article, we will cover the Colorado Landowner Preference Point system. 

In 2018, New Mexico adopted the Private Land License Allocation Rule (19.30.5 NMAC) also known as the EPLUS System. The system was adopted to allow for better management and to reward ranches and property owners that provide range improvements that benefit elk populations. The EPLUS System is responsible for distributing a portion of Elk vouchers or permits now known as authorizations to participating private landowners. The authorizations allow hunters to purchase elk tags or licenses to hunt elk in that given Game Management Unit (GMU).

The EPLUS System also divided New Mexico into 3 zones (previously there were 2 zones). The zones are Primary, Secondary, and Special. Previously the zones were Core Occupied Elk Range and Outside the COER. The COER zone is now known as the Primary Management Zone and is the area in New Mexico where the elk management and harvest goals are derived from. Refer to 19.30.5 NMAC for full definitions of the 3 zones.

Landowners and ranches who receive EPLUS authorizations (which are limited) in the Primary Management Zone can barter, sell, or trade authorizations and hunters can use the authorizations to purchase their elk tags or license. If a landowner’s property or ranch is located in a Secondary Management Zone the authorizations are unlimited and can be purchased over the counter using the ranches code. 

Maps of the 3 zones can be found at:

Landowners must meet specific requirements to qualify for the EPLUS System within the Primary Management Zone. These requirements are:

  1. Elk must inhabit and regularly use the property or ranch for the majority of at least one season. 
  2. The ranch or property must receive a minimum Ranch Score of 7 and have elk habitat.
  3. The ranch or property must be legally huntable. Meaning it must not be located within a city, village, or community where hunting is prohibited. 

Once New Mexico Game & Fish establishes the quota for authorizations for GMUs within the Primary Management Zone, ranches that participate in EPLUS will receive a percentage of authorizations based on the percentage of private land the ranch occupies within the GMU. For example, if the ranch’s private land occupies 2% of the GMU the ranch will receive 2% of the private land authorizations for that GMU. 

Properties too small to receive at least 1 authorization are considered Small Contributing Ranches (SCRs). With the new EPLUS System SCRs will participate in a random weighted draw using the ranch’s Ranch Score to weight the draw. Refer to 19.30.5 NMAC for more details on the draw. 

Landowners when participating in the EPLUS System in the Primary Management Zone may have the option of applying for unit-wide or ranch-only authorizations (specific units do not have the unit-wide option – see When applying for unit-wide authorizations take note that by doing so the ranch owner must allow hunters free, unrestricted access to their ranch. Ranch-only authorizations allow hunters to hunt only the ranch’s private land they purchased the voucher for. 

More details on the 3 zones and the authorizations available can be found on the New Mexico Game& Fish website. 


By: John Hayter, Owner-Broker

**Disclaimer – This is not to be considered legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Always consult tax and /or legal professionals for real estate legal and financial matters.

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