Why the Land and Water Conservation Fund is vital to New Mexico
Ways you can support the Land and Water Conservation Fund
Land and Water Conservation Fund
On June 17, 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act passes the United States Senate! The bipartisan legislation, which is co-sponsored by Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually, the amount originally intended for the fund when it was first created. In addition, the Great American Outdoors Act would provide $9.5 billion for deferred maintenance projects on federal public lands.
The LWCF was created by Congress in 1964 to fund land and water conservation programs in all 50 U.S. states. The program receives all of its revenue from royalties generated by offshore oil and gas drilling operations, so none of the funds come from taxpayers.
Since the program's implementation, the LWCF has funded conservation projects in all 33 New Mexico counties. Popular public lands like the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, the Continental Divide Trail, Valles Caldera, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, the state's national forests, and even city parks, have received more than $300 million to protect and restore New Mexico's land and water.
Congress failed to reauthorize the LWCF in September 2018, leading to the loss of tens of millions of dollars for America’s public lands. A federal public lands package that was signed into law in March 2019 reauthorized the program. However, the LWCF has still never been fully funded. If the House version of the Great American Outdoors Act, which is co-sponsored by Representative Xochitl Torres Small, passes the House of Representatives and is signed into law, the LWCF will finally be fully funded.
Full funding for the LWCF couldn't come at a better time, as New Mexico's small businesses begin the long road to recovery following the economic pains caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A fully-funded LWCF would also provide a boost to New Mexico's growing outdoor recreation economy, which directly supports $1.2 billion in income and 33,500 jobs annually.
New Mexico's entire Congressional delegation is supportive of efforts to permanently fund the LWCF. However, they need to hear from constituents like you to be reassured that they have your support to continue fighting the good fight!