SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Last year, fires such as the Black Fire and the McBride Fire damaged homes and landscapes. Now, New Mexico’s legislators are looking at ways to help communities recover.

Fire funds

Thursday, February 16, legislators in the Senate Conservation Committee are scheduled to consider two bills to fund wildfire recovery efforts. Together, the two bills would put over $23 million towards recovery.

Senate Bill 334, sponsored by Sen. Crystal R. Diamond (R-Doña Ana, Hidalgo, Luna & Sierra) and Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill (D-Catron, Grant & Socorro), would put $3 million towards recovery from the Black Fire. That fire, which burned near Truth or Consequences in spring and summer of 2022, is one of the largest fires in New Mexico’s history.

And Senate Bill 430, sponsored by Sen. William F. Burt (R-Chaves, Lincoln & Otero) and Sen. Elizabeth “Liz” Stefanics (D-Bernalillo, Lincoln, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Torrance & Valencia), would put $20 million towards recovery from the McBride Fire. That fire burned more than 200 homes near Ruidoso.

Wild horses

Legislators are also set to consider a bill to create the position of a “free-roaming horse expert” who answers to the New Mexico Livestock Board. That expert would help landowners control free-roaming horses.

Senate Bill 301, sponsored by Sen. Brenda G. McKenna (D-Bernalillo & Sandoval) and Rep. Matthew McQueen (D-Sandoval and Santa Fe), would give the free-roaming horse expert statutory authority to manage herds and control horse populations. Under existing law, landowners can kill unowned, free-roaming horses found on their land, as long as they don’t do so in a cruel manner, the State Land Office explained in an analysis. This bill would change that.

In case you missed it: Right to a clean environment

New Mexico legislators recently considered a joint resolution to give environmental rights to all New Mexicans. Senate Joint Resolution 6 would allow voters to decide if they want to amend the New Mexico Constitution to include the right to “clean and healthy air, water, soil and environments; a stable climate; and self-sustaining ecosystems.”

Several other states have adopted so-called “green amendments.” But the debate to do so in New Mexico has both support and opposition. Both sides presented arguments yesterday in the Senate Rules Committee, but ultimately the committee decided to extend the debate into a meeting planned for Friday. For more info on the proposed amendment, check out this KRQE News 13 story.