My Turn

Opinion: Reinstate, fund conservation program

By Garrett VeneKlasen
Posted 11/2/18

I am a strong 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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My Turn

Opinion: Reinstate, fund conservation program

Posted

I am a strong 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, but it is now at risk of going away.

New Mexico alone has received more than $312 million from LWCF 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 LWCF’s benefits to nearby communities and conveys the benefits LWCF has on our daily lives. I’m proud that this website features Río Grande del Norte and Taos County.

I was born and raised in Northern New Mexico, started giving fishing tours 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 expired on Sept. 30 because Congress failed to act 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 thus is 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 gets reinstated.

Garrett VeneKlasen is a Northern New Mexico sportsman.

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