Legacy Fund Coalition Welcomes Strong Funding Recommendations From LFC, Governor
Santa Fe – Today, a broad coalition of New Mexico organizations welcomed news that both Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) are prioritizing the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund with strong funding recommendations in their FY2025 budgets. The LFC budget, announced today, recommends a $300 million appropriation, and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive budget, announced on Jan. 4, includes a $250 recommendation.
The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund is New Mexico’s first dedicated state funding for conservation. Gov. Lujan Grisham spearheaded the creation of the Fund in 2023 in concert with the coalition and bipartisan legislative sponsors.
It provides dedicated, recurring funding for ten existing state programs spread across six agencies, prioritizing land and water stewardship, forest and watershed health, outdoor recreation and infrastructure, agriculture and working lands, historic preservation, and wildlife species protection. A complete list of agencies and programs is available here and a list of past projects in Santa Fe County completed by programs under the Legacy Fund is available here.
“This is history in the making,” said Dr. Brittany Fallon, western lands senior policy manager at Western Resource Advocates. “Thanks to the efforts of Governor Lujan Grisham, LFC Chairman Muñoz, LFC Vice Chairman Small and our legislative champions, New Mexico has positioned itself as a national leader in conservation. A $300 million investment this year will ensure the Legacy Fund delivers long-term, dedicated funding to our communities and protects our land, water, economy and culture for generations to come.”
“Investments in the Legacy Fund are incredibly important to New Mexico’s agricultural economy, and will help farmers, ranchers, private landowners, tribes, and acequia communities across the state,” said Debbie Hughes, New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts executive director. “We thank the governor and legislators in both parties for their continued support and look forward to putting more land and water conservation dollars to work.”
“We are grateful the governor and our legislative appropriators seek to make the Legacy Fund a priority this session, which will leave behind a conservation legacy all New Mexicans can be proud of,” said Demis Foster, executive director, Conservation Voters New Mexico. “We look forward to working with our elected leaders to pass this generational investment in our communities to secure a brighter future for our lands, air, waters, economy, and culture.”
The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund is made up of two investment strategies. The first, an Expendable Fund, received a one-time appropriation of $50 million in the 2023 legislative session and will distribute $12.5 million annually to existing state programs beginning July 1, 2024. A second Investment Fund, the Conservation Permanent Legacy Fund, was established with an additional $50 million appropriation to distribute through the Expendable Fund each year once it accrues sufficient interest. The Investment Fund is managed by the State Investment Council and modeled after the Early Childhood Education and Care Fund.
A new appropriation of $300 million in FY2025 would bring the Investment Fund balance up to $350 million – the minimum investment level the coalition has advocated for. According to an early analysis from the State Investment Council, this investment could:
- Protect the funds from future market volatility
- Sustain current funding levels for the ten agency programs until at least FY31
- Double the annual funding available to New Mexico communities under the Expendable Fund in 20 years
- Grow the balance of the Investment Fund to $460 million by FY50
- Bring in hundreds of millions of additional dollars through federal matching grants
The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund was established by the passage of Senate Bill 9, which was signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on March 23, 2023. It was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, Senator Steven Neville and House Appropriations Chairman Nathan Small after five years of bipartisan negotiations among advocates, legislators and state agencies.
For more information visit www.enchantmentfund.org
Additional quotes from coalition members are below:
“We are thrilled the Legislature and the Administration are proposing this historic level of funding for the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund,” said Judy Calman, New Mexico Policy Director for the Audubon Society. “This incredible investment in programs like the River Stewardship program and in species recovery through the Department of Game and Fish will give New Mexico’s bird species a fighting chance to survive climate change impacts now and in the future.”
“Investing in conservation is not just a financial commitment, it is a moral imperative,” said Keegan King, Native Land Institute. “The Legacy Fund is a pledge to future generations of New Mexicans that we will be responsible stewards of the earth, preserving its natural wonders and protecting its delicate balance for years to come. With these investments, we look forward to working with the state to ensure tribal communities access more resources to continue our essential conservation work.”
“We’re thrilled to see this leadership by the Governor and the LFC, calling for this substantial commitment for land, water, and wildlife conservation in New Mexico. Utilizing a part of the historically high budget surplus to enhance the resiliency of our natural heritage and communities is an investment in our future,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “Creating sustainable resources for community led projects to protect critical habitat, river health, and recreation opportunities benefits all of us.”
“We appreciate the ongoing commitment from Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the legislature to make investments that put New Mexican communities first,” said Ángel Peña, executive director of Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project. “The proposed investments for the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund are crucial to ensuring that historically and deliberately excluded communities have access to the outdoors through the Outdoor Equity Fund, while also securing funding for our wildlife and waterways.”
“The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund provides key investments to conserve and restore New Mexico’s lands and waters, leverage critical federal funding, and protect our state’s hunting heritage. Bipartisan investment in conservation of fish and wildlife habitat is a top priority of New Mexico’s hunting and fishing community and we applaud Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Legislative Finance Committee for building upon the successes of the 2023 legislative session by including robust increases to the Fund in their respective budgets.” – Elle Benson, Rio Grande Program Manager, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
“The executive and LFC budget recommendations mark a huge step forward for conservation in New Mexico. A sizable investment in the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund will result in healthier rivers and watersheds, more open spaces conserved, and more jobs created in a growing restoration-based workforce. We applaud the Governor and legislative leaders for prioritizing conservation funding in the upcoming legislative session.” – Dan Roper, New Mexico Program Lead, Trout Unlimited
“We have to take care of the land if we want the land to take care of us,” said Lesli Allison, Chief Executive Officer of the Western Landowners Alliance. “Whether we live in the country or the city, every one of us depends on the resources the land provides. It’s a responsibility we all share. We commend the governor and our legislators on both sides of the aisle for their leadership in making this critical investment.”
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