New Mexico Senate approves landmark conservation bill

February 15, 2023 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A measure that would create recurring funding for land and water conservation projects in New Mexico cleared the state Senate on Tuesday, with supporters describing it as a landmark measure that would help the state grapple with drought, wildfires and flooding.

The bipartisan bill will now be sent to the House for consideration.

The measure has the support of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who proposed as part of her budget recommendation funding for existing programs that aim to safeguard urban and rural water supplies and support local economies that are tied to the outdoors and natural resources.

“The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will provide lasting protections for New Mexico’s beloved lands and waters, and I applaud the Senate for taking this step toward its establishment,” the governor said in a statement.

Sponsors of the bill hope to secure at least $150 million for the initiative, including $100 million to build a “conservation legacy” trust. The other $50 million would ensure initial annual distributions for at least five years. The earnings would help finance forest restoration, agriculture projects, river stewardship work, wildlife conservation and development of the state’s outdoor recreation infrastructure.