Long awaited water and land conservation fund bill clears final hurdle
New Mexico has a new first: a permanent fund dedicated to water and land conservation across the state.
Lawmakers in the House passed SB 9 late on Sunday night. It now heads to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk for a signature.
A top priority for the governor, the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund is the result of five years of negotiations among a swath of stakeholders.
Meant to reach communities large and small, the legislation seeks to eradicate inconsistent funding across New Mexico and provide equity to the often underserved acequia communities and land grants.
Rep. Kristina Ortez of Taos is the secretary for the newly restored Vigil y Romo Acequia.
“I love this bill,” Ortez said. “The bill helps protect us from wildfire, from drought. It helps private landowners, our public lands… It invests in our outdoor recreation.”
A dollar amount for the bill has yet to be decided, as the final version of the session’s large budget bill –– HB2 –– would solidify that.
The money would go into an expandable fund for existing state programs and a second permanent fund, which will gain interest over time and be distributed for the next several years.
Advocates said they want at least $350 million overall in the future to ensure all counties and tribal communities are supported.
The governor is expected to sign the legislation.