Newscasts

PNS Daily News - December 13, 2019 


Brexit wins at the polls in the U.K.; major changes come to New England immigration courts today; and more than a million acres in California have been cleared for oil and gas drilling.

2020Talks - December 13, 2013  


The House passes legislation to reign in drug prices, Sen. Bernie Sanders is on the upswing, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang plays Iowa congressional candidate J.D. Scholten - who's running against long-time incumbent Steve King - in a game of basketball.

Bleak to Bright: Future of the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Nature lovers gather at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. Courtesy: U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich
Nature lovers gather at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. Courtesy: U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich
July 29, 2015

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The future appears positive for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal government program that in New Mexico has helped to create Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge and the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

A bipartisan deal recently reached in the Senate would extend funding for the 50-year-old program, which is set to expire at the end of September. Carrie Hamblen, executive director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, said preserving public lands can help create tourism opportunities.

"The Land and Water Conservation Fund really helps us ensure that public lands will be protected," she said, "and then from there, the local communities can go ahead and explore all of the different options on how to really reap the economic benefits."

Outdoor recreation contributes an estimated $6 billion to New Mexico's economy each year and supports about 70,000 jobs. Created by Congress, money for the Land and Water Conservation Fund comes from fees paid by oil and gas companies for drilling offshore.

U.S. Interior Department Deputy Secretary Michael Connor said climate change is another factor in the mix, adding pressure to better protect dwindling water supplies.

"The dramatic droughts going on in the West, and just the fact that water resources are most affected by increasing temperatures - there is a renewed focus within the LWCF to specifically look at investments that protect watersheds," he said.

U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, both D-N.M., are longtime supporters of permanently reauthorizing and fully funding the LWCF at $900 million per year. Even when full funding has been recommended, Congress typically raids the fund for other purposes.

Lori Abbott/Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM