Until 2023, New Mexico did not have a dedicated funding stream for land and water conservation. This meant the state often couldn't raise required matching dollars for federal programs that could better protect communities from wildfire, flood and drought, safeguard our water supplies, support rural and agricultural communities, and grow our outdoor recreation economy. New Mexico cannot afford to lose conservation funding.
Senate Bill (SB) 9 was drafted to create the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund to invest in existing land and water stewardship programs, giving legislators a historic opportunity to deliver for New Mexico communities. It would also preserve our cultural heritage and outdoor traditions, leaving a legacy for our children to hunt, fish, farm, and enjoy the lands and waters the way our ancestors have for generations.
Passage of the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund (SB 9) created the state’s first-ever dedicated source of recurring funding for conservation, prioritizing land and water stewardship, forest and watershed health, outdoor recreation and infrastructure, agriculture and working lands, historic preservation, and wildlife species protection. The legislation is a bipartisan product of five years’ negotiations among a broad coalition of non-governmental organizations, legislators and state agencies.
HOW THE FUND
The Land of Enchantment (LOE) Legacy Fund (an operational fund) will make annual disbursements to existing state programs utilizing existing statutes, boards, and rulemaking. A second fund - the Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund - will be managed by the State Investment Council, similar to the Early Childhood Education and Care Fund. Interest earned would be disbursed annually through the LOE Legacy Fund to state programs that have a proven track record of success, are popular in communities, or have rarely been funded to their full potential.
Local entities - including acequias, tribes, and Soil & Water Conservation Districts - are primed to apply for projects they know work for them. If adequately funded, this investment could deliver resources to all 33 counties and tribal communities.
At least $350 million is necessary to ensure the Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund can meet the needs of our communities and produce enough annual returns to be self-sustaining. This would provide more than $20 million annually to state agencies through existing programs, which could leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and private support over time. SB 9 provided only $50 million to the Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund. Legislators need to increase the investment into the Permanent Fund to ensure a sustainable funding source for generations to come.