Why the Land and Water Conservation Fund is vital to New Mexico

Protection Campaigns

Land and Water Conservation Fund

On August 4, 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law!

The bipartisan legislation fully funds 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 1965 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 before now.

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.

The Great American Outdoors Act passed the United States Senate on June 17, 2020, and the House of Representatives on July 22, 2020. The Senate version of the bill was co-sponsored by New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, while the House version of the bill was co-sponsored by New Mexico Representatives Xochitl Torres Small, Ben Ray Lujan, and Deb Haaland.

Click the button below to thank New Mexico's entire delegation for supporting full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund!

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Impact for our Efforts

Despite the current political challenges, we’re proud of the legislative and regulatory victories that have been achieved.

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