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Broad Coalition of New Mexicans Celebrate Gov. Lujan Grisham’s Signing of SB9 into Law

Santa Fe, N.M. – March 23, 2023 – At a ceremony today in Santa Fe, representatives of a broad coalition of New Mexico organizations celebrated Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s signing of Senate Bill 9 into law. SB9 is a bipartisan effort which creates the state’s first dedicated and long-term funding stream for land and water conservation. With appropriations from the larger budget bill HB2 totaling $100 million, the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund is the single largest land and water conservation investment in New Mexico history.

“We are witnessing conservation history today,” said Dr. Brittany Fallon, western lands senior policy manager at Western Resource Advocates. “After five years of negotiations, the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund serves as a true testament to the dedication and hard work of our governor, the bill sponsors and all those who have championed the need for conservation funding in our state. New Mexico now stands with other Western states to have dedicated land and water conservation funding for the first time and unlocks access to millions of available federal dollars to put to use in our communities so that our outdoor heritage and precious landscapes, watersheds, natural areas, wildlife habitat, cultural and historic sites, recreational lands, farms and ranches, and scenic open spaces are preserved for the use and enjoyment of generations to come.”

The $100 million appropriation will go toward two funds: $50 million for an expandable fund, which will be allocated to existing state programs beginning in FY2024 that begins July 1, 2023; and $50 million into a permanent fund, which will generate interest over time and to eventually be distributed through the expendable fund each year once it accrues sufficient interest. Advocates have called for at least $350 million in combined funding over time to ensure the funds can generate sufficient interest over time, produce enough annual returns to be self-sustaining, and reach all 33 counties and tribal communities.

The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund is a bipartisan product of five years of negotiations among a broad coalition of legislators, state agencies, community stakeholders and non-governmental organizations. More information can be found at

Quotes from individual organizations can be found below:

“Amigos Bravos thanks the governor, the bill sponsors, and the legislature for making possible this historic investment in conservation,” said Joe Zupan, executive director, Amigos Bravos. “In particular, it will benefit watershed health by enabling resources for programs such as River Stewards on a sustained basis far into the future. The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will be an investment that all New Mexicans will appreciate and enjoy.”

“The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will provide wide-reaching, essential benefits for birds,” said Judy Calman, New Mexico policy director for The Audubon Society. “Riparian restoration through the River Stewardship program, as well as habitat improvement projects through the Game and Fish Department, will give birds critical help as they navigate the ongoing impacts of climate change. We are so grateful to the bill sponsors and the Governor for their leadership.”

“By fully investing in the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund, the legislature has delivered better protection from extreme weather conditions like historic wildfires, flooding, and severe drought,” said Liliana Castillo, deputy director of Climate Advocates Voces Unidas (CAVU). “As the state's first-ever recurring conservation funding mechanism, the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will open new doors for land and water stewardship - vital elements of our culture - for the first time in a generation.”

“We all owe a tremendous thanks to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for her vision and leadership on conservation funding, along with sponsors Chairman Small and Senators Wirth and Neville, and those legislators who voted to support SB9,” said Demis Foster, executive director at Conservation Voters New Mexico. “We ask a lot from our lands and waters, which support our farmers and ranchers, are critical habitats for wildlife, and are the foundation for recreation, hunting and fishing, tourism, and traditional cultural practices. These two conservation funds are a good, bipartisan, beginning to ensure we can protect our lands, waters, wildlife and cultural heritage for future generations.“

“New Mexico has taken a huge step forward in protecting our irreplaceable environment and communities,” said Bryan Bird, southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “Thanks to the governor and bill sponsors, the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will make long-term investments in fish and wildlife, river habitat, watersheds, and conserve the state’s unique biodiversity.”

“Thank you to Sens. Steven Neville, Peter Wirth, and Rep. Nathan Small, for pushing to establish New Mexico’s first-ever dedicated source of conservation funding,” said Kyla Navarro, policy and community coordinator for the Friends of the Organ Mountains Desert-Peaks. “The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will put money into the protection and health of our lands and waters. It’s important to invest in conservation to ensure the resilience of our natural resources against the effects of climate change for future New Mexicans.”

“NPCA thanks the Governor, sponsors, and legislature for enacting SB9, the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund, delivering resources to our New Mexico communities, for our economy, land, water, and culture,” said Emily Wolf, New Mexico senior program coordinator for the National Parks Conservation Association. “This once-in-a-generation opportunity will protect 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. Protection of interconnected landscapes in our state protects our incredible national parks. 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.”

“The New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts is very excited about the passage of SB9,” said Debbie Hughes, executive director, New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts. “New Mexico agriculture will benefit through the funding that goes directly to NMDA because we will finally have recurring funds for on-the-ground projects. This fund will also help the soil and water conservation districts apply for federal funding that usually requires a non-federal match.”

“We are very excited about what the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will be able to do for New Mexico,” said Scott Wilber, executive director of the New Mexico Land Conservancy. “The Legacy Fund will facilitate greater public-private partnerships and put much needed funds on the ground for conservation, restoration, natural and cultural resource management, and outdoor recreation. To adequately address major issues - like climate change and forest, watershed and wildlife management – as well as economic opportunities, we need better integrated and coordinated conservation and management of both our public and private lands. The Legacy Fund will help leverage millions of dollars of federal conservation funding for New Mexico, but also enable the state to support significant small-scale agricultural, forestry, open space and outdoor recreation projects thereby facilitating greater participation by lower income and historically underserved landowners and communities around the state. We are grateful for our Governor’s leadership and the support of our sponsors – Sen. Neville, Sen. Wirth and Rep. Small – for this worthy investment in the future of our state.”

“Thanks to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the leadership in both the State House and Senate, New Mexico has made an historic investment in our future,” said Tricia Snyder, senior water policy analyst with New Mexico Wild. “Establishing the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund ensures that communities across the state have the resources they need to build climate resilience for the many challenges ahead-- from aridification, to flooding, to wildfires, and beyond. By investing in existing programs like the River Stewardship Program and Outdoor Equity Fund, we will be supporting conservation, and ensuring that future generations of New Mexicans are able to enjoy the lands and waters on which we all rely.”

“Outdoor Alliance is thrilled that the New Mexico Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund was signed into law today,” said Adam Cramer, CEO, Outdoor Alliance. “New Mexico was long overdue for a permanent conservation fund, which will be transformative in protecting important landscapes, addressing climate change, and expanding outdoor recreation resources for New Mexicans. The outdoor recreation community in New Mexico strongly supported this effort and will benefit enormously from its passage. We are grateful to the many champions who led the work on this fund, including Governor Grisham, Senators Neville and Wirth, and Representative Small.”

“The Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust applauds Governor Lujan-Grisham and our legislature in enacting the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund,” said Cecilia Rosacker, executive director of the Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust. “This funding will allow New Mexico to leverage millions in federal conservation funds that have been out of our reach for decades. The Natural Heritage Conservation Act program supported through this funding will allow us to serve disadvantaged landowners in underserved communities with their conservation needs. Thank you to Senators Wirth and Neville and Representative Small and the Governor for championing this funding that will help ensure equitable conservation opportunities for New Mexicans.”

"The Santa Fe Conservation Trust applauds the legislature and Governor Lujan Grisham for enacting SB 9," said Sarah Noss, executive director of the Santa Fe Conservation Trust (SFCT). "The new Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund 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. Thanks to Senator Wirth, Senator Neville, Representative Small, and Governor Lujan Grisham for championing this critical legislation. We look forward to the significant conservation outcomes in store for New Mexico as a result of the bill."

"Signing SB9 into law is a significant victory towards ensuring that all New Mexicans, especially BIPOC youth, have access to outdoor recreation and the opportunity to engage in climate justice conversations,” said Jared Berenice Estrada, campaigns and projects director with The Semilla Project. “The Semilla Project thanks Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for recognizing the importance of this bill and for signing it into law. We also want to thank the bill sponsors for their leadership and dedication to creating a permanent funding stream for Conservation and Outdoor Access programs. The Outdoor Equity Fund has been instrumental in supporting organizations like ours to provide outdoor education and recreational experiences to underrepresented communities. We believe that our communities deserve access to the outdoors and the opportunity to connect and protect the ecosystems we all depend on."

“The New Mexico Legislature has made a big advance and progress in protecting our lands, water, wildlife, and future in the 2023 Legislative Session,” said Luis Guerrero, legislative and political organizer for the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter. “As we continue to fight the effects of climate change, it is more important than ever to make sure we make a strong investment in conservation and protect the beauty of the natural resources in New Mexico. We thank the Sponsors: Senators Peter Wirth, Steven Neville, Representative Nathan Small, and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for taking this step forward.”

The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will provide for our communities, local economies, lands, and waters, and will ensure that sportspeople throughout New Mexico continue to have quality places to hunt and fish,” said Elle Benson, Southwestern water program coordinator at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We thank the bill’s sponsors Senator Neville, Senator Wirth, and Representative Small for their leadership on getting this important package across the finish line, and we look forward to seeing this investment be put to work on ground.”

“New Mexico now has a dedicated source of conservation funding for the first time in the state’s history,” said Dan Roper, New Mexico Policy Lead for Trout Unlimited. “This funding is essential to restoring the health of our watersheds, rivers, and working lands for future generations and making our lands and waters more resilient to a changing climate.. We’re grateful for the bipartisan support of the Legislature and the Lujan Grisham administration for establishing the fund, and we’re committed to ensuring the fund grows in the coming years so it can truly be a legacy for New Mexico’s communities.”

“I cannot think of a better way to honor all people of New Mexico and the deep connection of our state to public lands and natural heritage than passing the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund,” said Jim Petterson, Trust for Public Land’s Mountain West region vice president. “The passing of SB9 is a significant milestone and celebration in New Mexico’s history and continued journey toward leveraging federal dollars to conserve and restore open spaces, private working lands, and cultural sites while providing energizing outdoor experiences for our state's underserved youth. Thanks to Senator Neville, Senator Wirth, and Governor Lujan Grisham for their leadership in addressing this critical need.”

“As landowners, we know that the fate of New Mexico is directly tied to the land and natural resources that sustain us all,” said Lesli Allison, executive director of the Western Landowners Alliance. The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund is a visionary investment in our shared future. We are deeply grateful to Governor Lujan Grisham, Senators Wirth and Neville, and Representative Small who led the way and proud to have been a part of the tremendous stateside collaboration that made this possible.”

“There is no conservation future without investing in young people,” said Kay Bounkeua, New Mexico state senior manager, The Wilderness Society. “We’re grateful to the governor, bill sponsors, and state legislature for making an investment in New Mexico’s future. Providing long-term support for programs like the Outdoor Equity Fund will result in more equitable opportunities for youth to connect and reconnect to the outdoors, resulting in improved mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health across families and communities while supporting generational stewardship."

“New Mexico is on the front lines of climate change, and in so many ways, we are already experiencing the effects,” said Michael Dax, western program director for Wildlands Network. “Thanks to this historic investment and the leadership of the governor and bill sponsors, we can start mitigating these effects and restoring our lands, waters and wildlife.”

“At REI, we believe that life outside is fundamental to a life well lived. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Lujan Grisham, Senator Wirth, Senator Neville, and Representative Small, the Legacy Fund will provide the next generation equitable access to the mental and physical benefits of the outdoors,” said Kristen Engels, Regional Director for REI co-op. “We're proud to support this permanent investment in the lands and waters of New Mexico that supports more than 25,000 outdoor recreation jobs across the state and through the Outdoor Equity Fund that helps more than 40,000 youth get outside.”


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