VIDEO: Udall, HECHO, Community Leaders Push for Full Conservation Funding During Roundtable Discussion on Great American Outdoors Act Benefits for New Mexico
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SANTA FE, N.M.—Yesterday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, hosted a virtual roundtable with Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) and small business and community leaders from across New Mexico.
During the roundtable, Udall and the panel discussed the Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act and how the major public lands legislation will benefit New Mexico’s economy, environment, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Udall was joined by Executive Director of HECHO, Camilla Simon, HECHO Board Member and Chairman-Elect of the National Wildlife Federation’s Board of Directors Kent Salazar, Enchanted Circle Trails Association representative Carl Colonias, Southern NM Trails Alliance representative Matt Mason, Santa Fe City Councilor Renee Villarreal and Roswell City Councilor Judy Stubbs.
The landmark legislation fully and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million per year. LWCF adds land to national parks, wildlife refuges, ball fields, and city parks. The bill also provides $9.5 billion over five years for deferred maintenance projects at the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education schools. The legislation is funded by federal natural resource royalties, not taxpayer dollars.
In New Mexico, LWCF has invested more than $33o million to protect public lands and open spaces and increase recreational opportunities since enacted in 1964. New Mexico's $9.9 billion outdoor industry – which is built around outdoor spaces supported by LWCF – is a significant economic driver in the state, supporting 99,000 jobs and $2.8 billion in wages. Fully and permanently funding the LWCF will translate directly into aiding our economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“LWCF and other conservation initiatives are key to our economic recovery from COVID,” Udall said. “In New Mexico, LWCF has contributed $332 million dollars to federal and state projects since its inception, benefitting every single county in New Mexico and supporting our state treasures like Bandelier, Chaco, the Gila, and our newest national wildlife refuge, Valle de Oro. I also fully believe that our conservation work must be grounded in principles of equity, inclusion, and diversity. HECHO understands the strong connection Hispanic families have to our lands, waters, and wildlife. We must make sure the voices of Hispanic people and all people of color are heard – as we move forward toward environmental justice – and conserving and restoring our public lands. So let’s move forward together, and encourage our great environmental champions in the House to get this over the finish line.”
“We must be good stewards of our land and water, protect our health, and ensure equitable access to the benefits of nature to make our communities more resilient,” said Camilla Simon, HECHO Executive Director. “The Great American Outdoors Act ensures that communities across the U.S. will have reliable funding to help accomplish this. It has never been more critical to fortify investments in our communities. We are thankful for Senator Udall’s leadership and for continuing to press for the success of this bipartisan bill in the House.”
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