WASHINGTON – In a video message, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, addressed the attendees at the annual New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference
, which is running from October 23 to 25 in Santa Fe.
In his remarks, Heinrich highlighted the massive economic impact of successful community-driven efforts to conserve New Mexico landscapes and make outdoor recreation a key piece of economic development plans all across the state.
“We have protected public lands that we love,” said Heinrich. “We have created jobs that are true to who we are as New Mexicans. We have increased access and grown recreation opportunities all across our state.”
Heinrich concluded, “Let’s all keep working together to achieve New Mexico’s full potential as one of the best places on Earth to get outside.”
Below are Senator Heinrich’s full remarks:
We all know that the Land of Enchantment stands out as one of the most beautiful places on Earth. New Mexico’s scenic landscapes, forests, and watersheds have sustained our communities for generations. But for decades, the phrase “outdoor recreation” was rarely included in any economic development plans.
We have established a State Outdoor Recreation Division. We stood up an Outdoor Equity Fund that is helping more of our kids experience outdoor activities on our public lands. We established the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund, a dedicated funding stream for land and water stewardship. And we have reaffirmed the constitutional right of all New Mexicans to access our streams.
I have been so proud to help fight for these wildly successful, community-driven efforts. Whether it’s joining you as a constituent calling state legislators, helping secure federal support to fund your work here, or simply elevating the work you’re already doing. Fighting this fight with you has been an honor. And the impacts will extend for generations.
We have protected public lands that we love. We have created jobs that are true to who we are as New Mexicans. We have increased access and grown recreation opportunities all across our state.
We secured new designations for landscapes like the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments. And these designations have had a massive economic impact.
A recent report found that visitation has more than tripled since the designation of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Out-of-town visitors have brought an estimated 234 million dollars into our economy. And the monument is supporting hundreds of new jobs in southern New Mexico. That’s what putting our public lands and outdoor recreation activities on the map can mean for our local economies.
During my time in the Senate, I have worked alongside our communities to achieve a number of legislative victories for our public lands. That includes establishing the most protected wilderness in New Mexico in the last 40 years. From Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah and Columbine-Hondo to twelve new wilderness areas within our two new National Monuments.
We also fully and permanently funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF has protected iconic landscapes like the Valles Caldera, Ute Mountain, and Valle de Oro. Since we passed the Great American Outdoors Act into law, LWCF has opened up new public access to places like Achenbach Canyon.
Just this month, the Santa Fe National Forest announced that it has finalized its LWCF acquisition of the Valley of the Spirit Ranch. This historic addition to the Jemez National Recreation Area will open up new trails and access into the forest from the Village of Jemez Springs.
I encourage all of the conservation champions gathered here to keep working to identify new landscapes in our state that are ripe for LWCF projects.
And I encourage you to join me in the fight to secure permanent protections for more of our treasured landscapes. Places like Chaco Canyon, the Buffalo Tract, and the Upper Pecos Watershed.
In this Congress, I am proud to be championing bills to protect these iconic New Mexico lands. To complete the Continental Divide Trail. To establish the Cerro de la Olla Wilderness. To improve the permitting process for outfitters, educational organizations, and community groups to access public land. To recover America’s fish and wildlife habitat. And to finally designate New Mexico’s Gila River as Wild and Scenic.
I hope you will join me in the fight to get each of these bills across the finish line.
We must also find a way forward on finally reforming our state’s Elk Private Lands Use System, or EPLUS program. The current structure of the program favors wealthy and out-of state residents over New Mexico hunters. At the heart of this issue is the principle that you shouldn’t be able to pay 10,000 dollars to buy your way to the front of the line to hunt on public lands. Ensuring fair opportunity will help us maintain a tradition and a food source that is so important to generations of New Mexicans.
I also want us to work together to effectively implement the landscape and watershed restoration funding I fought to secure in the Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. Successful restoration projects will require the active participation – and leadership – of our local communities. Please also stay engaged as the Valles Caldera National Preserve, our National Monuments, and our National Forests finalize their long-term management plans.
Let’s all keep working together to achieve New Mexico’s full potential as one of the best places on Earth to get outside.