Opinion – Congress: Save the Land and Water Conservation Fund

By Garrett VeneKlasen of Taos and Santa Fe
Posted 9/28/18

I am a huge supporter of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which for over 50 years has helped protect public outdoor spaces, from national monuments to community ballfields, in almost every …

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Opinion – Congress: Save the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Posted

I am a huge supporter of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which for over 50 years has helped protect public outdoor spaces, from national monuments to community ballfields, in almost every county in America. It is now at risk of going away.

New Mexico alone has received more than $312 million from the conservation fund for over 1,200 state, local and federal projects, including preserving sites and access within Río Grande del Norte National Monument, now visited by more than 180,000 people annually. A new website, SaveLWCFNewMexico.com, highlights the fund’s benefits to nearby communities and conveys the benefits the fund has on our daily lives. This website proudly features Río Grande del Norte and Taos County.

I was born and raised in Northern New Mexico, started guiding fishing trips on public lands when I was 15 years old, and have witnessed the immense economic impact of protected public lands, often supported by LWCF, on local outfitters, restaurants and other businesses.

Unfortunately, LWCF will expire Sunday (Sept. 30) unless Congress acts to reauthorize this program. LWCF is easily our nation’s most important program to conserve irreplaceable lands and improve outdoor recreation opportunities. It gets it money from royalties paid by offshore drillers and is thus not funded by taxpayers.

Sens. Udall and Heinrich, along with Reps. Lujan and Lujan Grisham, also are strong LWCF supporters, advocating for LWCF to be reauthorized and fully funded. I urge the rest of Congress, including Rep. Pearce, to join them, so this valuable program does not expire.

VeneKlasen is a sportsman who lives in Taos and Santa Fe. 

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