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Governor signs bill to create state’s first-ever dedicated source of recurring funding for conservation Governor also signs SB 72, Wildlife Corridors Funding Act 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Maddy Hayden
Office of the Governor
maddy.hayden1@state.nm.us
March 23, 2023

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday signed Senate Bill 9 to establish the state’s first-ever dedicated source of recurring funding for conservation efforts.

The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund is sponsored by Majority Floor Leader Sen. Peter Wirth, Sen. Steven P. Neville, and Rep. Nathan Small.

“There are few states that value the land and water like we do here in New Mexico,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “After years of hard work by a broad coalition of legislators, state agencies, community organizations and non-governmental organizations, I’m proud that we are prioritizing funding for conservation efforts now more than ever before.”

The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will consist of two $50 million funds, with one fund dedicated to existing state programs and the remaining $50 million going into a permanent trust fund managed by the State Investment Council. The funding will support existing and successful programs that prioritize land and water stewardship, forest and watershed health, outdoor recreation and infrastructure, agriculture and working lands, historic preservation, and wildlife species protection.

“The protection and promotion of our land, air, and water through conservation, infrastructure support, and preservation is an investment every New Mexican should be proud to support,” said Sen. Wirth. “And with this sustained, predictable funding in place, we gain access to untapped federal dollars that will multiply these investments many times over. I would like to thank all the co-sponsors and fellow supporters of
Senate Bill 9, and thank Governor
Lujan Grisham for making this effort a priority and signing it into law today.”

“I’m proud that today, New Mexico’s enchantment was solidified for my grandkids and their grandkids,” said
Sen. Neville. “I am grateful that the governor and my legislative colleagues saw this bill to the finish line for the betterment of all New Mexico families.”

“New Mexicans know how precious our natural resources are and The Land of Enchantment Fund will empower future New Mexicans to be stewards of these resources for generations to come,” said Rep. Small. “This historic investment is a down payment on a more resilient and sustainable future in the face of a changing climate.”

The governor signed the bill alongside legislators and supporters at the Santa Fe location of REI Co-op.

“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.”

The governor also signed on Thursday Senate Bill 72, sponsored by President Pro Tempore Sen. Mimi Stewart. The bill creates a fund to supports the implementation of the Wildlife Corridors Action Plan and is accompanied by a $5 million appropriation in the budget. A 2022 study by DOT and the Department of Game and Fish yielded the Wildlife Corridors Action Plan, which identified 11 high-priority safe passage projects around the state designed to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and restore habitat connectivity. According to the study, roughly 1,200 wildlife-vehicle crashes are reported to New Mexico law enforcement every year, costing drivers and the state nearly $20 million in property damage, emergency response and healthcare costs.

“I want to thank Governor Lujan Grisham for supporting this effort to protect New Mexico’s wildlife,” said Sen. Stewart. “Safe, open pathways for wildlife to cross busy roads will not only save lives of the many animals in potential danger, they will keep us humans out of harm’s way as well. And with dedicated state investments in place, federal resources will be more attainable.”

“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 SB 9,” said Demis Foster, executive director of 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.”