Commentary: The Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce applauds the Santa Fe City Council and Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber for unanimously passing a resolution on Wednesday, August 8, urging Congress to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF is our nation’s most important program to conserve irreplaceable lands and improve outdoor recreation opportunities in every state, including New Mexico. However, LWCF will expire on September 30unless Congress acts to reauthorize the program before then.
Since 1965, New Mexico has received more than $312 million dollars from LWCF for over 1,200 projects, including local playground equipment and ballfields, state park visitor facilities, and acquisition of land from willing sellers to establish and add to our National Parks, Forests, Monuments, and Wildlife Refuges.
LWCF has helped maintain popular natural destinations like Ragle, Calle Lorca, Candelero, Alto and Larragoite Parks, Santa Fe National Forest, and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.
LWCF is funded from offshore oil and gas drilling royalties, meaning that none of it comes from taxpayer dollars. However, instead of providing LWCF with its authorized level of $900 million annually, nearly every year Congress diverts much of this funding to purposes other than conserving our most important lands and waters. The City of Santa Fe’s resolution urges Congress to fully fund LWCF and thus end this practice.
“Enjoyment of the outdoors is central to the New Mexican way of life, and responsible stewardship of our natural environment has been a cultural value passed down for generations” said Santa Fe City Councilwoman Renee Villarreal. “Fully funding and reauthorizing LWCF is one way we can ensure our communities can enjoy open spaces and equitable access to public lands that we have today and for future generations.”
“LWCF has been key in protecting our air, land, and water, as well as funding local playgrounds and parks, all of which enrich the lives of people living in northern New Mexico,” said Glenn Schiffbauer, Executive Director of Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce. “Beyond that, LWCF is absolutely critical to supporting the quickly growing outdoor recreation economy in New Mexico, which is already seeing a big surge in jobs and tourism.”
The Santa Fe City Council will be sharing its resolution with New Mexico’s Congressional delegation. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich along with Representatives Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham have consistently taken action in support of LWCF. Unfortunately, Representative Steve Pearce has repeatedly voted to cut LWCF funding and has opposed its permanent reauthorization.
The City of Santa Fe’s resolution follows increasing calls this year from lawmakers, business owners, sportsmen, veterans, Hispanic organizations and others to reauthorize and fully fund LWCF.