Sen. Heinrich Pushes Congress to Renew Land and Water Conservation Fund
SANTA FE, N. M. – U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers urging Congress to renew a fund credited with paying for many recreation areas, in the Land of Enchantment and across the nation.
Heinrich says the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) helped create Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in the Rio Grande Valley, and the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
"It's full of hot springs and trout streams. It has one of the largest elk herds in the state of New Mexico," said Heinrich. "It was an 89,000-acre inholding in the middle of the Santa Fe National Forest that became the Valles Caldera National Preserve - and it was purchased with the Land and Water Conservation Fund."
Heinrich was among those who joined the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition for the release of a new report on the LWCF's 50th anniversary.
The fund, created by Congress, expires next year. It's supported by fees paid by oil and gas companies for drilling offshore.
Heinrich pointed out it also has helped to pay for soccer fields and urban parks throughout the state, and is important for the economy.
"And in New Mexico, we have 68,000 people who are directly reliant on our public lands recreation to make their livings," Heinrich said. "These are good jobs in rural areas, which is absolutely critical."
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has a $900 million cap, but has only been fully funded twice in the past half-century. The organizations that make up the LWCF Coalition include The Wilderness Society, Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land and Trout Unlimited.