Interior denies all of New Mexico’s proposed LWCF projects

After cheering the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which secured permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), New Mexico wildlife and conservation advocates were shocked to learn every single project proposed to the Department of Interior for LWCF funds was rejected.

The LWCF, created by Congress in 1965 to support public land management using offshore oil and gas royalties, received $900 million annually under the Great American Outdoors Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by Donald Trump in August. It marked just the second time since its creation that the program is fully funded.

Post-election, the Trump administration’s support for the LWCF seems to have dried up. The administration was about a week late in sending Congress a priority list of projects from across the country. The Act gave the Interior Department and the Department of Agriculture 90 days to submit a list of projects to receive funding from the LWCF in fiscal year 2021.

The USDA list includes projects that would add land to the National Forest Service, which sits under the USDA. The Interior Department list covers LWCF projects that would add land to the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and state parks. A draft list of proposed projects was developed in April in support of the legislation.

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