Congress: Save the Land and Wa­ter Con­ser­va­tion Fund

The Taos News - - FAVOR Y CONTRA - By Gar­rett VeneKlasen SaveL­WCFNewMex­, VeneKlasen is a sportsman who lives in Taos and Santa Fe.

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,

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.

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