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Legacy Fund Receives Historic, Long-Term Conservation Funding

$300 Million Investment Goes Toward Land & Water Conservation, Agriculture and Outdoor Recreation Projects

Santa Fe, N.M. – March 6, 2024 – Today a broad, bipartisan coalition of New Mexico organizations celebrated the signing of House Bill 2, the state's FY2025 budget, which included a historic $300 million appropriation for the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund - the state’s first long-term funding stream for land and water conservation, agriculture and outdoor recreation projects. 


“The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund is already providing wide-reaching, essential benefits for birds by supporting river restoration projects through the River Stewardship program, and habitat improvement projects through the Game and Fish Department,” said Judy Calman, New Mexico policy director for The Audubon Society. “We are thrilled and very grateful that the legislature has provided such an incredible investment to the Fund this year, ensuring birds will have critical help in perpetuity as they navigate the ongoing impacts of climate change.”


“It is inspiring to see the strong bipartisan support for natural resources that sustain our farmers and ranchers, are critical habitats for wildlife, and are the foundation for recreation, hunting and fishing, tourism, and traditional cultural practices”, said Demis Foster, Chief Executive Officer at Conservation Voters New Mexico. “We are grateful for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s continued vision and the legislative leadership of Senators Peter Wirth and Steven Neville and Representative Nathan Small. The commitment to SB 9 in 2023 and again in 2024 will create a sustainable and effective Land of Enchantment Fund that will help build climate resilience and protect our lands, waters, wildlife and cultural heritage today and for future generations”.


“The legislature made a major commitment to New Mexico’s unique biodiversity,” said Bryan Bird, southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “New Mexico is one of the top five most biologically diverse states in the nation, home to over 6,000 species of animals, with 235 in conservation need. The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund begins to address the state’s conservation requirements for all wildlife.”


“Thank you to Sens. Steven Neville, Peter Wirth, and Rep. Nathan Small, for ensuring New Mexico’s first-ever dedicated source of conservation funding is self-sustaining,” said Kyla Navarro, policy and community coordinator for the Friends of the Organ Mountains Desert-Peaks. “The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will continue to put money into much needed programs that aid the protection and health of our lands and waters for generations to come. Our organization is also excited for the continued funding of the Outdoor Equity Fund. Thanks to this program, we have been able to both introduce and consistently connect our community youth of Southern New Mexico to our national monument, fostering them to be our next public lands stewards.


“NPCA is grateful that the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will be fully funded for the benefit of New Mexico’s communities, economy, land, water and culture,” said Emily Wolf, New Mexico Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Protection of interconnected landscapes in our state protects our incredible national parks. This opportunity will safeguard New Mexico parks and communities from wildfire, flood and drought, safeguard water supplies for urban and rural areas, support our agricultural communities, and grow our outdoor recreation economy. Our parks are home to many vital water resources, ecosystems, and wildlife, but these know no boundaries and depend on a system of healthy, interconnected and well-managed public and private lands.”


“A big thank you to Governor Lujan Grisham, the leadership of Chairman Small, Senators Wirth, Neville and Muñoz and the diverse coalition that helped get $300 million included in the state budget for the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund,” said Ralph Vigil, Chairman of the New Mexico Acequia Commission. "This historic appropriation will assist long-term funding for much needed water and land conservation, agriculture and outdoor recreation projects within our traditional acequia communities statewide."


"This is a big win for New Mexico's rural communities and our agricultural economy," said Debbie Hughes, executive director, New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts. "The Legacy Fund will unlock big opportunities for soil and water conservation districts, private landowners, farmers and ranchers across the state who care deeply about the land and want to see it actively conserved for the next generation. We express our thanks to the governor and legislature for coming together on this bipartisan effort we have been so proud to support."


“This was a historic legislative session for New Mexico’s rich natural and cultural heritage. The commitment to making these significant investments to our lands, waters, and wildlife will literally pay dividends towards the health, prosperity, and quality of life for future generations,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “We’re proud to have been part of the broad coalition of stakeholders that did the hard work to find common ground, stuck together, and spoke with a united voice for our shared values - an increasingly rare thing, but one that should give us all hope.”


"A vision without resources is nothing more than a hallucination, and today New Mexico has stepped up to provide long-term funding for land and water conservation, agriculture, and outdoor recreation projects statewide. Not only will this benefit our state’s flora and fauna, but it also provides resources for the Outdoor Equity Fund to help historically and deliberately excluded communities connect with the outdoors and cultural landscapes,” said Àngel Peña, executive director of Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project. “Gracias to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, House & Senate leaders Chairman Nathan Small, Senators Wirth, Neville, and Muñoz for making the Legacy Fund a priority this session."


“The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will allow us to leverage millions in federal conservation programs that have been inaccessible for decades. New Mexico's Natural Heritage Conservation Program, supported through this funding, will allow RGALT and partners to meet the conservation needs of the historic landowners who have stewarding their land for generations," said Cecilia Rosacker, Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust Executive Director. "The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund is critical in order to implement equitable conservation and serve the conservation needs of New Mexico's communities and landowners who want to protect their family lands and our cultural heritage tied to those lands.


"The Santa Fe Conservation Trust applauds Governor Lujan Grisham and our legislative leaders for robustly supporting the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund," said Sarah Noss, executive director of the Santa Fe Conservation Trust (SFCT). "This funding will enable SFCT and our partners to advance our shared mission of protecting culturally and environmentally significant landscapes, igniting people’s passion for nature, and enabling the continual regeneration of our healthy place. In particular, the Trails+ program will help us create trail connectivity and accessibility for more members of our community, and the Natural Heritage Conservation Act program will help us work with a more diverse group of landowners to voluntarily conserve their properties. We look forward to the significant conservation outcomes in store for New Mexico as a result of this fund."


“We strongly support SB9 and the request to fully fund the $300 million needed for the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund and are grateful for its passage this legislative session,” said Luis Guerrero, Legislative and Political Organizer, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter. “This fund helps protect us from climate-driven disasters and is crucial to protecting the places that sustain and inspire us. We thank the bill sponsors for continuing to work so hard to make this strong investment in conservation and protecting the beauty of the natural resources in New Mexico, and also the Legislative Finance Committee for their hard work last year to reach this recommendation.“


“The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund provides key investments to conserve and restore New Mexico’s lands and waters, leverage critical federal funding, and protect our state’s hunting heritage,” said Marcel Gaztambide, Southwest Field Manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Bipartisan efforts to conserve fish and wildlife habitat are important to New Mexico’s hunting and fishing community and we applaud Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and state legislators for their forward thinking in providing the funding necessary to protect the fish, wildlife, and landscapes that help make New Mexico great.”


“This is a historic moment for conservation in New Mexico,” said Dan Roper, New Mexico State Lead for Trout Unlimited. “The Legacy Fund will be a real difference maker for our rivers and watersheds, providing a stable and recurring source of revenue for conservation projects across the state, even in lean budget years. We appreciate the support of our legislative champions and the Lujan Grisham administration to make this conservation legacy a reality for New Mexico.”


“Trust for Public Land is thrilled at the passing of this historic funding to support the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund,” said Jim Petterson, Vice President of Trust for Public Land’s Mountain West Region. “This is a significant investment in critical infrastructure to protect New Mexicans from climate impacts, as well as the preservation of cultural heritage and growth of the state's outdoor recreation economy. Thanks to the fortitude of state leaders including Senator Neville, Senator Wirth, Representative Small, and Governor Lujan Grisham, the fund can be used to its full potential to help build stronger, healthier communities for generations to come."


“We are so proud of New Mexico for making this critical investment,” said Lesli Allison, chief executive officer for the Western Landowners Alliance. “It means we’ll have healthier watersheds, more productive agricultural lands, increased public health and a stronger economy. We thank New Mexico’s leaders for their vision, dedication and bipartisan cooperation in making it happen!”


“Today's triumph is not just a victory for our present, but a gift to future generations,” said Dr. Brittany Fallon, western lands senior policy manager at Western Resource Advocates. “With more than five years of tenacious negotiations behind us, this funding surge sets the stage for a new era of environmental stewardship, preserving our landscapes, watersheds, wildlife habitats, cultural sites, and more. And with it, New Mexico has firmly rooted itself as a national leader in conservation. Thanks to Governor Lujan Grisham, LFC Chairman Muñoz, LFC Vice Chairman Small, and all our legislative champions for steering New Mexico toward a brighter, more sustainable future.”


“The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund and the programs it will support, like the Outdoor Equity Fund, are an investment in New Mexico’s future. A future where all New Mexican youth experience the transformative power of nature and its many benefits. A future where the landscapes we live, play and recreate are protected and enhanced thanks to generations of stewardship. The Legacy Fund is our future,” said Kay Bounkeua, New Mexico state senior manager, The Wilderness Society. “We thank Governor Lujan Grisham, bill sponsors, the state legislature and hundreds of advocates who understand the inextricable link between the health of people and the conservation of our cherished outdoors.”


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