WASHINGTON ― Yesterday, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that the State of New Mexico will receive $500,138 through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to support outdoor recreation and conservation projects throughout the state.
LWCF funds are a highly effective tool for creating and protecting urban and rural parks and open spaces that provide recreation opportunities, enhance communities and create jobs, but the program will expire in September unless Congress takes action.
Udall and Heinrich have introduced legislation (S. 890) to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“I'm proud to announce these funds, which highlight how urgent it is that Congress act to ensure this program is around for generations to come,” Udall said. “From urban parks like Valle de Oro and Petroglyph National Monument to the wild backcountry of the Valles Caldera, the LWCF has had a powerful impact in New Mexico communities, providing resources to conserve special outdoor spaces that enhance tourism and enrich our quality of life. LWCF is an investment that pays dividends — for every $1, we see a return of $4 to local communities. We need to allow the LWCF to reach its full potential by permanently reauthorizing it and guaranteeing full funding.”
“You don’t have to look hard in New Mexico to see LWCF’s impact. This vital conservation program has helped protect some of our most treasured public lands and helped create many community parks across the state,” Heinrich said. “These are special places that families go back to year after year to camp, hunt, fish, hike, and play sports. They also support thousands of jobs in the state’s outdoor recreation industry. We must act now to permanently reauthorize and fully fund LWCF so that future generations can enjoy our recreational public lands.”
Congress established the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1965 to ensure access to recreational resources for present and future generations and to provide state and local governments with money to conserve open spaces for the benefit of all Americans.
Since the fund's inception, more than $4 billion has been made available for state and local governments to fund over 40,000 projects across the nation.
A recent analysis of the fund found that every $1 invested in land acquisition generated a $4 return on the investment for communities. Funding for the program is generated through reinvested revenue from offshore oil and gas leases.
Congress has appropriated funding for the program at the full authorized level of $900 million only once in the past 50 years.