SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico is one step closer to getting $150 million towards long-term environmental conservation. The plan is laid out in Senate Bill 9, which received approval by the New Mexico Senate.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Steven P. Neville (R-San Juan) and Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), would create new funds for the state to use on conservation. With an initial investment of $150 in the Conservation Legacy Fund, the bill would support projects operated by a range of government departments.
“Now is the perfect time to make proactive investments in our land and water,” Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) said in a press release. “With sustained, predictable funding in place, we gain access to untapped federal dollars to multiply our investments many times over. Passing this measure marks a giant step forward in helping communities be more resilient as we continue to deal with wildfires, flooding and long-term drought.”
Under the bill, funds can be accessed by agencies such as the Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Department (EMNRD), Department of Agriculture (NMDA), Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF), Environment Department (NMED), Economic Development Department (EDD), and the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). Not only would the agencies get annual disbursements, but the bill could allow for increased federal funding as well.
“Land, water, and wildlife stewardship is finally getting the love it deserves this session,” Judy Calman, the New Mexico director of policy for Audubon Southwest, said in a press release. “Now it’s up to the House to rise to the challenge and pass this bill with enough funding to ensure a real impact in all 33 counties and tribal communities.”
The bipartisan bill has been years the making. And the fact that it’s being sponsored by both a Democrat and Republican may help it stay afloat through its next round of debates by members of the House.