Why NM Legislators Should Vote for HB 223- SB 102
Summary: Sponsored by Rep. Small and Senators Neville and Stewart, HB 223 – SB 102 would dedicate $150M of the state’s oil and gas revenues to establish an agricultural trust that would annually fund an array of agricultural and natural resource restoration and protection initiatives. The fund could also leverage state money as a match for federal conservation grants. Other states that have implemented similar trust funds typically receive $6 for every $1 invested. The Act prohibits use of funds for fee simple title acquisition of real property, the purchase of water rights, and reintroduction of native or non-native game or nongame species under the Endangered Species Act
The bill would establish an advisory committee chaired by the Governor who would establish criteria for identifying and funding projects for the following purposes:
- Water enhancement projects to improve stream and hydrological function, reduce erosion, increase water supply, improve water quality and ensure the long-term conservation of water resources;
- Preservation or conservation of open space, cultural land, and resources and habitat for fish, wildlife or plants through purchase or acquisition of conservation easements;
- Improvement and maintenance of existing terrestrial habitat necessary to maintain optimum wildlife populations of terrestrial or aquatic species;
- Enhancement of fish or wildlife habitat in areas impacted by residential, energy, mineral or industrial development;
- Habitat improvements that promote the health of both livestock and wildlife and reduce potential for disease transmission.
- The control, management or extermination of invasive species and noxious weeds in order to protect native flora and fauna, restore degraded forests, rangeland and wetland habitats and support agricultural sustainability;
- Habitat improvement by restoring natural fire regimes, including through the use of prescribed fire; reducing the risk of catastrophic fire; and restoring watersheds impacted by fire;
- Implementation of land and watershed management techniques that promote soil and rangeland health, increase water infiltration, improve wildlife habitat and enhance agricultural viability; and
- Staffing and other administrative expenses to carry out the purposes of the Agricultural and Natural Resources Trust Act.
Defenders of Wildlife, Western Landowners Alliance, Audubon New Mexico, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Quivira Coalition, Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust, New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, Trout Unlimited