Yesterday, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced more than $500,000 will be awarded to the state of New Mexico through the Land and Water Conservation Fund for state-certified outdoor recreation and conservation projects. Over the past 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has proven to be a highly effective tool for creating and protecting urban parks and open spaces that contribute to environmental vibrancy and generate economic growth in communities. Udall and Heinrich urged their Senate colleagues to make funding for the program permanent.
“Outdoor activities are an essential part of New Mexico’s history and identity, and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight to make funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund permanent to help ensure the many outdoor recreational opportunities offered by our state’s special landscapes remain available to New Mexicans for generations to come,” Udall said. “Access to public parks, ball fields, and green spaces and other outdoor recreational areas is essential to the health of our children and families, and helps to boost the economy of New Mexico communities by creating and supporting tourism and recreation jobs.”
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a critical tool that ensures we have the resources necessary to conserve recreational lands for all of us to enjoy now, and for future generations,” Heinrich said. “New Mexico gains from policies that increase access to our treasured landscapes. Job creation is directly tied to outdoor recreation across our state, where hunting, fishing, and camping drive an enormous portion of our economy.”
Congress established the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1964 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. For Fiscal Year 2014, $507,107 has been allocated to support projects in New Mexico. 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.