Bill to Protect New Mexico’s Natural Resources Passes House
HB 265 empowers and helps fund conservation, restoration, and outdoor recreation projects
Santa Fe, N.M. – Legislation to help protect New Mexico’s natural and cultural resources and expand outdoor recreation opportunities in the state passed the House of Representatives today.
Sponsored by Rep. Kristina Ortez (D-Taos), House Bill 265 modernizes the State’s Natural Lands Protection Act (NLPA) and the Natural Heritage Conservation Act (NHCA) to make the programs more functional and better able to leverage substantial federal funding. These changes would empower the expanded acquisition of our state’s outdoor recreation projects for activities like hunting, hiking, and boating in addition to conservation and restoration.
Potential projects facilitated by HB 265 include conservation of New Mexico’s lands, wildlife, and outdoor heritage, and acquisition of key lands to create new parks, wildlife areas, and open spaces with both recreation and conservation benefits.
“The Natural Lands Protection Act and Natural Heritage Conservation Act provide vital protections for New Mexico’s natural resources, but currently, they are outdated and lack a dedicated funding source,” said Rep. Ortez. “House Bill 265 makes much-needed updates to these programs that will allow the state to create new parks and open spaces, expand public access, bolster rural outdoor economies, and restore our lands, water, and wildlife.”
Included in the modernizing changes, HB 265 increases the membership of the Natural Lands Protection Committee from 7 to 10, expands the types of lands the state can acquire, and enables land acquisitions to be done unilaterally with a not-for-profit partner. The bill will not affect private landowners.
House Bill 265 passed the House of Representatives in a 40-25 vote, and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Members of the public can track legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website, access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the Webcasts tab, or participate by Zoom to provide public comment on committee hearings. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the House of Representatives is focused on passing critical legislation while protecting the health and safety of the public, the staff, and the legislators.