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Home | Tag Archives: LWCF

Tag Archives: LWCF

Businesses Urge Action to Preserve NM’s Special Places

SILVER CITY, N.M. – Canyons, deserts, lava flows, badlands, monuments.

When it comes to public lands, New Mexico has it all, and a group of New Mexico business owners want to make sure it’s all preserved by calling on Congress to renew and fully fund the lapsed Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Dan Roper, a community coordinator for the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, spearheaded a letter as well as a video to show the importance of LWCF funding to gateway communities.

He says it might sound like an obscure government program, but New Mexicans have benefitted from investments in outdoor recreation, trails and open spaces where people live and work.

“Whether they realize it or not, sometimes you talk to people about something like LWCF and they’re not very familiar, but if you start talking about the places that have been protected through LWCF investments, then you really make that connection and people start to get it,” he states.

The program is not funded by individual taxpayers, but rather from a small portion of federal royalties from offshore drilling.

Since its creation 54 years ago, the fund has invested more than $312 million in the state.

The letter from area business owners also highlights the effect that expiration of the fund will have on the not-yet-completed Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

New Mexico is the adopted home of Martyn Pearce, who grew up in England and now co-owns the Gila Hike and Bike shop in Silver City.

After playing golf for Western New Mexico University, he fell in love with the state’s landscape and signed on to the letter because, as a business owner, he has personal experience with the importance of public lands.

“I never thought I’d get to see the stuff I get to go out and see on a daily basis here – canyons, and waterfalls and petroglyphs and cave dwellings, and this whole land across the West is just vast and I find it to be truly fascinating,” he states.

LWCF funding helped conserve the Santa Fe National Forest and Watershed, City of Rocks State Park, Elephant Butte Lake State Park and the Petroglyph National Monument.

Author: Roz Brown, Public News Service – NM

Conservationists: NM Will Lose Big If Conservation Fund Isn’t Renewed

ALBUQUERQUE – Conservationists are alarmed that only three months remain before one of the nation’s most popular conservation programs could end because Congress has not acted.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has improved national and local parks in New Mexico for more than 50 years, but is set to expire at the end of September.

The program doesn’t rely on taxpayer dollars; rather, it is funded by federal oil royalties from offshore drilling in public waters.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N. M., is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers that sponsored a bill to reauthorize the fund. He noted it has benefited residents in all 50 states.

“It’s an immensely successful program, which has provided funds to nearly every county in New Mexico, and the United States, to conserve public open space,” Udall said.

Since 1965, New Mexico has received more than 1,000 state and local grants from the LWCF, totaling nearly $43 million.

Outdoor recreation contributes $9.9 billion to New Mexico’s economy and supports nearly 100,000 jobs in the state.

Carrie Hamblen, Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, says funding from the program has helped make public land more accessible, allowed the state to maintain outdoor recreation areas, and helped many of the state’s cities and towns.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped create spaces in their communities that add to the quality of life, help local businesses and also, in some cases, helped drive tourism,” Hamblen said.

These funds also have helped correct the widespread issue of “checkerboarded” land. For example, in 2005, LWCF funding helped purchase the last 13 acres needed to complete the first phase of development at the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park.

Mesilla Mayor Nora Barraz says other recreational facilities in southern New Mexico would not exist without funding from the program.

“In New Mexico, we rely heavily on outdoor recreation as an economic boost for our community,” said Barraz, “and on top of that, it also helps provide funding for our state and local parks like – for swimming pools, playgrounds.”

Conservationists also want Congress to fully fund LWCF, at $900 million. That has only happened twice in the fund’s history, with funding fluctuating year to year because money is more often reallocated for other purposes.

Author – Roz Brown, Public News Service – NM

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