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New Mexico Agricultural and Natural Resources Trust Fund

New Mexico’s land and water form the foundation of our communities, and yet without investing in both, we risk our future and that of our children.

Our ancient acequias, water systems and watersheds face grave uncertainty under volatile climate scenarios;

New Mexico’s land base faces drought, soil erosion and lost productivity, while our forests grow increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire;

New Mexico loses an average of 50,000 acres of undeveloped land per year, threatening the future of our agricultural way of life, and resulting in increased habitat fragmentation for our states’ wildlife;

Two of New Mexico’s most important economic sectors, agriculture ($10 billion) and outdoor recreation/eco-tourism ($1 billion) are threatened by these impacts;

Our rural economies struggle to sustain vibrant communities, yet programs in similar states resulted in 15-24 local jobs created for every $1 million spent;

New Mexico could be capitalizing on millions of dollars of available Federal funding simply through the availability of state matching funds.

Vision

We seek to sustain and enhance New Mexico’s agricultural and natural heritage through stewardship, conservation and restoration of our forests, grasslands and watersheds; to provide for wildlife populations and habitats; and to ensure the continuation of agricultural production on working farms and ranches.

Need

New Mexico needs to invest in its land and water resources in order to ensure the integrity and sustainability of our water supply, wildlife, agriculture, and wide-open spaces – all of which comprise our incredible and unique natural and cultural heritage recognized nationally and worldwide.

Opportunity

Even in the face of the COVID-19-driven economic recession and tough budget times ahead for New Mexico, establishing a trust fund and making a modest allocation to its endowment in the next legislative session is prudent. We estimate that millions of dollars could be leveraged by state investment at a 6:1 match ratio. Now is not the time for New Mexico to be leaving federal dollars on the table.

Help us prepare our campaign for next session. Share your NM Land and Water Story

Tell a personal story that illustrates why you support investment in New Mexico's land and water resources. In particular, we are excited to share stories of restoration success that demonstrate the potential of New Mexico's resources, when given just a bit more TLC.

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Thank you to our broad coalition of supporters!

This list of supporting organizations continues to grow:

Adelante Consulting, Inc., Advocacy Matters LLC, Agri Nature Center Los Ranchos, Albuquerque Wildlife Federation, Alianza Agri-Cultura de Taos, American Forest Foundation, Amigos Bravos, Audubon New Mexico, Ballard Farm and Ranch, Berlier Farm and Ranch, Brinistool Ranch, Chama Peak Land Alliance, Chavez Ranch, Cimarron Mercantile LLC, Cimarron Watershed Alliance, Inc., Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, Cooperative Catalyst of New Mexico, Crawford Farms, CS Cattle Co., Defenders of Wildlife, Del Medio Forestry, LLC, Ducks Unlimited, Element Adept, Garduno Farm/Hondo Rancho, Global Water Policy Project, Grow The Hemp Shed, Guadalupe Feed Store, High Plains Grasslands Alliance, Holistic Management International, Hood Farm and Ranch, Hughes Hunting Services, Indian Nations Conservation Alliance, Keystone Restoration Ecology, Little River Flower Farm, Localogy, Mer-Girl Farms, LLC, Molino de la Isla Organics, LLC, Mule Deer Foundation, National Young Farmers Coalition, New Mexico Acequia Assocation, New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, New Mexico Certified Tree Farm #2, New Mexico Land Conservancy, New Mexico Wild, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Not Forgotten Outreach, Inc., Old Gem Farm, Quivira Coalition, Rio Chiquito Research & Consulting, Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust, Rio Grande Restoration, Rio Grande Return, River Source Inc., Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Santa Fe Conservation Trust, Save Our Bosque Task Force, Simms Ranch, Brazos Limited Partnership, Taos Land Trust, Taos Valley Acequia Association, The Wildlife Conservation Society-Rocky Mountain Program, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Tierra Bueno Gardens, Tooley's Trees and Keyline Design, Trout Stalker Ranch, Trout Unlimited, Twin Willows Ranch, Upper Pecos Watershed Association, Valle Vidal Grazing Association, Virsylvia Farm, Western Ecology, LLC, Western Landowners Alliance, Wild Turkey Sportsmen's Association, Wildlife Conservation Society.

What SB273/HB223 does

Permanent Trust Fund

Creates an endowment fund where only the accrued interest will be used to conserve and enhance land, water and habitat across New Mexico. The Coalition’s long-term vision is to see the Fund reach $400 million through a combination of surplus revenue from oil/gas and other sources of public and private funding.

Publicly-accountable Board

Creates a Board representing different regions within the state and different areas of expertise to evaluate, rank and select projects to receive grants or other forms of funding from the interest of the Fund. The board would be required to periodically submit progress reports back to the Governor and Legislature.

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Policy News from New Mexico

Court weighs tribes’ aboriginal water claims for Jemez River

A decadeslong battle over a northern New Mexico river has taken another turn, as a panel of federal appellate judges has reversed a lower court ruling by determining that the aboriginal rights of Indigenous communities were not extinguished by Spain when it took control centuries ago of what is now the American Southwest.

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USFWS proposes listing New Mexico thistle

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed protecting as threatened the Wright’s marsh thistle. Along with the litigation-pressured Endangered Species Act listing, the federal agency proposed designating as critical habitat 159 acres in Chaves, Eddy, Guadalupe, Otero and Socorro counties in New Mexico.

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A cuckoo keeps its protections, but debate continues

The Fish and Wildlife Service declared today the western population of yellow-billed cuckoo still warrants federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. In a noteworthy defeat for mining and ranching organizations, the federal agency rejected a petition to strip away the bird’s status as a threatened species.

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6 western states blast Utah plan to tap Colorado River water

Six states in the U.S. West that rely on the Colorado River to sustain cities and farms rebuked a plan to build an underground pipeline that would transport billions of gallons of water through the desert to southwest Utah.

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Colorado, Texas give New Mexico permission to use stored water

Low runoff, top-of-the-thermometer temperatures and little rainfall have translated into a dismal summer on the Rio Grande, with large river stretches south of Albuquerque already dry. But water managers are finally breathing a sigh of relief. The state of New Mexico has received permission from neighboring states to access up to 38,000 acre-feet of water, or more than 12 billion gallons, that is currently stored under the Rio Grande Compact agreement.

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New Mexico to consider river protections as mining plan looms

More than 200 miles of the Pecos River, its tributaries and other parts of the upper reaches of the northern New Mexico watershed would be protected from future degradation under a petition being considered by state regulators. A coalition of farmers, ranchers, environmentalists and local officials filed the petition last month, seeking an “Outstanding National Resource Waters” designation for the river, nearby streams and surrounding wetlands. The Water Quality Control Commission agreed Tuesday to consider the request and set a public hearing for November.

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NM Supreme Court asked to weigh in on stream access dispute that no one can agree on

Kendra Chamberlain at New Mexico Political Report unpacks the controversy over New Mexico’s stream access law, and the pending lawsuit between pro-access groups and the state. She writes, “Groups on both sides of the dispute all have different ideas about what’s at issue, and what’s at stake, but all parties are quick to point out the dispute is incredibly complicated. And while there’s no shortage of opinions on the topic, stakeholders on both sides of the fence seem to agree on one thing: it was a 2014 opinion issued by then-Attorney General Gary King that started the whole thing.” 

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Feds, tribes raise concerns about cuckoo habitat proposal

The Fish and Wildlife Service has rekindled an Endangered Species Act debate with its proposal for a large, multistate critical habitat for the western yellow-billed cuckoo. The Army Corps of Engineers cautions that the proposal could complicate operations of a key California dam. Tribes have worries of their own. Some bird lovers, meanwhile, want more than the proposed 493,665 acres spanning seven Western states.

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New Mexico senators weigh in on stream access

New Mexico’s two U.S. senators are wading more deeply into a stream access debate that’s been simmering for years. U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, both Democrats, this week urged the state Game Commission to repeal a 2017 rule that allows private landowners to restrict public access to water flowing across their land in certain circumstances. Supporters of the rule, such as the Western Landowners Alliance, say it protects sensitive streambeds and enables habitat restoration work on private property.

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Plan calls for diverting, storing water from Gila River

Water from two rivers that span parts of New Mexico and Arizona would be diverted and stored under a project proposed by the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity. The BLM and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission are gathering public comments on an environmental review of the proposal. The fight over the Gila River has prompted protests and legal fights over the years. Environmentalists have suggested the effort to divert water would result in a $1 billion boondoggle, but supporters argue that the project is vital to supplying communities and irrigation districts in southwestern New Mexico with a new source of water as drought persists.

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USDA Wildlife Services to use $1.3 M to implement, evaluate nonlethal predation management tools

The USDA Wildlife Services (WS) program has identified 12 states where it will implement nonlethal strategies to reduce or prevent depredation on livestock by wildlife. The fiscal year 2020 budget allocated $1.38 million for nonlethal predator damage management and research to the program that is part of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agency.

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Trump admin reopens Mexican wolf study

The Fish and Wildlife Service today reopened a debate over the best way to protect the Mexican wolf. Facing legal pressure, the agency announced plans to revise the “nonessential experimental population” designation and management of the wolves living in Arizona and New Mexico. The plans require drafting an environmental impact statement supplement.

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Court rejects critical habitat for jaguar

A federal appeals court yesterday rejected the Fish and Wildlife Service’s designation of critical habitat for the endangered jaguar. Reversing a trial judge’s 2017 opinion that had been hailed by environmentalists, a unanimous three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded the federal agency was “arbitrary and capricious” in its decisionmaking.

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Western yellow-billed cuckoo clocks in renewed habitat debate

The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a noticeably shrunken but still sprawling critical habitat for the threatened western yellow-billed cuckoo. In a long-awaited revision today, the federal agency proposed designating approximately 493,665 acres across seven Western states as critical habitat. The move would extend ESA protections to parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.

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Groups want cows corralled to protect endangered jumping mouse habitat

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, environmental groups have accused the U.S. Forest Service of failing to keep livestock and wild horses out of streams and other wetlands on forest land in southeastern Arizona, resulting in damage to habitat required by the New Mexico jumping mouse, an endangered species found only in the Southwest.

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New Mexico Wildlife Corridors Act: public meetings and comment

The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) has begun developing the Wildlife Corridors Action Plan (Plan) in accordance with New Mexico Senate Bill 228, the Wildlife Corridors Act (Act). Public meetings will be held state wide and public comments will be accepted through April 18, 2020.

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Opinion: Conservation and restoration of our precious land

The future of New Mexico over the next 100 years will depend on actions taken today to ensure our natural resources continue to provide our most essential needs. The New Mexico Land Conservancy, the New Mexico Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the New Mexico Land Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife and Audubon New Mexico urge New Mexicans to speak up during the current legislative session in favor of the New Mexico Agricultural and Natural Resources Trust Fund Act.

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New Mexico needs realistic, sustainable water plan

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has long talked about the importance of water to the arid state, even campaigning on the idea of creating a 50-year plan to guide management of the finite resource. Her administration is now asking lawmakers for more money and manpower to start what some experts say will be a multiyear endeavor.

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Editorial: Using oil surplus to help restore habitat worth the investment

A bill that would dedicate a portion of the state’s record oil and gas revenues to a permanent fund for habitat restoration and sustainable agriculture projects deserves serious consideration from lawmakers, and it’s good to see support for it from a broad coalition of agricultural and environmental groups.

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New Mexico bill would divert oil and gas money to restoration

Skyrocketing oil and natural gas production in southeastern New Mexico continues to produce record-setting state revenue. A broad coalition of agricultural and environmental groups believe some of that money should help restore the state’s land and water.

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Petition seeks federal protections for Rio Grande fish

Environmentalists are asking federal wildlife managers to use the Endangered Species Act to protect a fish found only in the Rio Grande in Texas and the Pecos River in New Mexico. WildEarth Guardians filed the petition with the Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday, saying it is part of a campaign focused on vulnerable species found in rivers and streams across the West.

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New in-stream flow rights in New Mexico

Surface water rights in the state of New Mexico are typically granted to individuals for diverting water from streams and rivers to irrigate crops and support food production. Now, the state has granted its first water rights permit to keep water in a river.

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