Policy Update

New Mexico Establishes Permanent Funds for Conservation and Outdoor Recreation

April 5, 2023



NCEL Point of Contact

Kate Burgess
Conservation Program Manager



New Mexico recently enacted S.B.9, which established two statewide funds to increase investment in key environmental and conservation initiatives: the Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund and the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund. In 2023, New Mexico is one of at least five states considering legislation to establish long-term outdoor recreation funding and one of at least three states considering legislation to establish long-term conservation funding.

  • Why it matters: Nature-based recreation contributes nearly $700 million to New Mexico’s GDP and continues to be the fastest-growing contributor to the state’s $2.3 billion outdoor recreation economy. However, emerging climate change challenges require adaptation and investment in biodiversity, scenic landscapes, and recreation infrastructure. As interest in outdoor recreation continues to grow, long-term investments in outdoor recreation and conservation ensure state citizens continue to enjoy New Mexico and keep New Mexico a competitive force in the growing outdoor recreation tourism market.

Key Components of S.B. 9

S.B.9 recognizes the importance of long-term investment in New Mexico state lands, recreation opportunities, wildlife, and scenic beauty for the benefit of all people, including future generations. 

The bill establishes permanent and legacy funds aimed at conserving and expanding access to the state’s most important natural, cultural, and historical resources. As enacted, the bill:

  • Establishes a Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund with a maximum value of $150 million, with excess funds directed to the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund.
  • Establishes a Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund authorized to distribute up to $12.5 million annually. 
  • Directs funding to conserve forests, manage noxious weeds, improve soil and water health, improve river habitats and surface water quality, develop outdoor recreation infrastructure, conserve outdoor cultural heritage, and fund outdoor equity programs.

Bill Sponsors

The primary sponsors of S.B.9 are New Mexico State Senators Steven Neville and Peter Wirth. State Senator Elizabeth Stefanics was a Cosponsor and State Representative Nathan Small presented the bill to the New Mexico House of Representatives.