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Last year, New Mexico did what had never been done before – invested long-term in helping protect and restore our lands, water, wildlife, and cultural heritage. We did this through the passage of the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund (LOE). But like many ambitious and change-making projects, LOE needed additional support to truly deliver for New Mexico communities. The critical support, in this case, was funding.

To understand why additional funding was needed, we need to get into the math. That’s because LOE is not one fund but two: the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund (LELF) and the Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund (CLPF). Each fund received an initial investment of $50 million in the 2023 session. The LELF is to start funding state agencies and conservation projects by 2025. It would do so by paying out 25% percent of its budget annually to the following entities:

  • 22.5% to the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department
    •   50% allocated to the Forestry Division 
    •   50% allocated for the Natural Heritage Conservation Act
  • 22.5% to the New Mexico State University Department of Agriculture
  • 10% to the Department of Environment
  • 15% to the Economic Development Department
    • 25% allocated for the Outdoor Equity Grant Program
    • 75% allocated to the Outdoor Recreation Division
  • 8% to the Cultural Affairs Department
  • 22% to the Department of Game and Fish

The CLPF, on the other hand, was placed under the management of the State Investment Council, and its funds were invested to begin accruing interest to eventually be paid out into the LELF.  With its initial funding, the CLPF would not have been able to replenish the LELF until 2040, when the CLPF was projected to have accrued enough interest to have reached $150 million. The CLPF must have a minimum balance of $150 million before it can distribute its investment income into the LELF. Without the influx of funds from the CLPF to the LELF, it would have stopped being able to fund agencies by 2029. 

Fortunately, through tireless advocacy, close work with our allies and legislative champions, and lots of work through the interim committee process, we were able to secure an additional $300 million for the CLPF in the 2024 session. Now with the CLPG at $350 million, it is estimated that the fund could start making distributions to the LELF by 2026.  Current estimates also predict that by 2028, the LELF will be able to distribute incrementally more to our state agencies and programs in each successive year. 

This advance in timeline means consistent funding for our state agencies and programs, which translates to a multitude of benefits for all New Mexicans. It means having the necessary resources to expand conservation, support our agricultural heritage, build climate resilience, and invest in communities for generations to come.

To illustrate the number of past and current projects throughout the state that are to be funded by LELF, an interactive map has been created by the Land of Enchantment Legacy  coalition. You can check it out here.

SB 9 – Conservation Legacy – which was the initial bill introduced to appropriate $300 million for the CLPF – did not pass. It did live on in HB 2, the state budget bill, which successfully appropriated the same $300 million from the general fund to the CLPF.