- April 10th, 2013, President’s Budget Returns Oil and Gas Revenues to Land and Water Conservation, Boosting Tourism and Outdoor Recreation
- April 1, 2013, Local Elementary Students to Hand Deliver Thank You Notes for U.S. Senator’s Work to Protect Table Rocks, Oregon
- March 23, 2013, Senate Passes Budget that Returns Oil & Gas Revenues to Land and Water Conservation Fund
- March 13, 2013, LWCF Coalition Lauds Senate Budget for Commitment to Outdoor Economy, Ending Chronic Diversion of Conservation Funds
- March 7, 2013, LWCF Coalition Lauds Jewell for Commitment to Outdoor Economy
- February 14, 2013, Senators Introduce Bipartisian Bill to Renew and Improve Landmark Conservation Program
- February 6, 2013, LWCF Coalition Praises Nomination of Sally Jewell for Interior Secretary
- January 22, 2013, Statement from the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalitionon the Retirement of U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
- September 26, 2012, Coalition Praises Senate Subcommittee for Proposal to Increase LWCF Conservation Funding
- July 3, 2012, Americans Support Land Conservation as Patriotic, Even as Congress Moves to Cut Funding
- June 28, 2012, LWCF Coalition Decries Efforts to Strip Conservation Funding From Final Transportation Bill
- June 25, 2012, Over 1,000 Groups Urge Congress to Fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund
- June 20, 2012, LWCF Coalition Applauds Senate for Resounding Defeat of Proposal to Strip Forest Conservation Funding
- June 20, 2012, House Appropriations Panel Slashes Land Conservation and Forest Programs
- March 8, 2012 Coalition Applauds Senate for Dedicated Conservation Funding
- February 13, 2012 Coalition Applauds President's Continued Support for Conservation Funding
- December 17, 2011 Conservation, Business and Sportsmen Groups Applaud Congressional Efforts to Protect LWCF Funding in FY12 Budget
- July 25, 2011- New Bipartisan Poll Shows Overwhelming Support Across America for Land and Water Conservation Fund
- July 13, 2011- National Bipartisan Poll Memo
- May 31, 2011- Over One-Third of the U.S. House of Representatives Sign Letter Supporting Funding for LWCF
- April 14, 2011- Conrad Anchor Testimony Release
- December 20, 2010 - Senate Urged to Join House and Pass Bill with Full Funding for Conservation Program »
- August 3, 2010 - Senate Urged to Join House and Pass Bill with Full Funding for Conservation Program »
- July 15, 2010 - House Committee Passes Bill Securing Funding for Conservation and Recreation Program »
- April 16, 2010 - America's Great Outdoors Conference Focuses on Need for Vital Land, Recreation Funding »
- February 1, 2010 - Obama's Budget Includes Key Funding for Land & Water »
- November 6, 2009 - Senate Bill Would Fulfill Longstanding Promise for Conservation and Recreation Program »
- September 17 , 2009 - Coalition Supports Conservation at House Hearing »
A Refuge From Urban Life
From the mid-’50s until 1996, cows roamed the 570 acres of Price’s Dairy Farm between Second Street and the Rio Grande. This part of the far South Valley is dotted with orchards, vineyards and farms, as well as testaments to industrialization, such as the water treatment plant.
In early fall, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Southwest’s first national urban wildlife refuge will join the mix. “It’s a place for people to come and connect with the lifeblood of New Mexico—the Rio Grande,” he said at a press conference. “This will give young people a chance to get dirt under their fingernails and learn about the great outdoors.”
Angela West, president of the Mountain View Neighborhood Association and a resident of the South Valley for 30 years, says her children grew up exploring natural habitats. It’s an opportunity that she says is important for every child. “They’d point at birds and trees,” she recalls. “Their first words were Appaloosa. They grew up pulling apples off trees, so they know where food comes from. Everyone did.”
The Price family decided to sell their land for conservation to combat the push for housing developments in the area, says Greg Hiner, project manager at The Trust for Public Land. Although the trust started working with the family in 2000, the project was fallow until the property caught the eye of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Over the next five to 10 years, the dairy farm is slated become a habitat for animals, birds and fish, including an endangered bird called the Southwest willow flycatcher.
The Middle Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge will be within 30 minutes’ driving distance for Albuquerque residents. “It’s a celebration of something a little deeper than something people might think of now as they drive down Second Street,” West says.
But Hiner says the refuge remains only a concept. The land has not yet been purchased. The next step is figuring out a fair price for the property. As part of that process, the state engineer has to determine the value of the farm’s water rights.
The Bernalillo County Open Space program committed $5 million to the initial stages of creating the refuge, Hiner says. The total cost is projected to be $20 million, and the project is awaiting federal and nonfederal agencies to come up with the remainder.
Tax money from the oil and gas industry may fund this refuge—as it does others—through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. “Money in that fund comes from a tax that the oil and gas drillers pay to the federal government for drilling on U.S. property offshore,” Hiner says. “The idea being as some of our country’s natural resources are depleted, we are setting aside some of the money to improve other natural resources, like the dairy.”
According to U.S. Department of the Interior estimates, wildlife refuges account for an estimated 35,234 jobs throughout the country, and outdoor recreation has generated $55 billion in economic benefits. “With the job issue, it's important that outdoor recreation and conservation not get left behind,” Salazar said.
West says she also sees a chance to revitalize the Second Street corridor. “We have such pride in this place and a potential for thoughtful economic growth,” she says. “We have the ability to reverse nasty industrialism here and the potential, with a little luck and perseverance, to turn this ship in an entirely different and beneficial, direction for the community and region.”