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At least 15 dead as severe weather sweeps across central US; on Memorial Day, IA labor leaders honor fallen workers; Medical center installs microgrid to safeguard clinic power supply; 'Second look' laws gain traction, but MS sticks to elderly parole; Will summer heat melt New Mexicans' cravings for ice cream?

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One congressman cites ways Biden could get more support from communities of color. A new Louisiana law reclassifies two abortion medications as controlled substances. And Ohio advocates work to boost youth voter turnout.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

New Mexico Creates First-Ever $100M Conservation Fund

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Friday, March 31, 2023   

New Mexico is using some of its surplus budget funds, primarily from oil and gas revenues, to establish the state's first-ever source of recurring funding for conservation efforts.

Known as the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund, it consists of two $50 million reserves - one to fund existing state programs and another permanent fund managed by the State Investment Council.

Jonathan Hayden, senior policy analyst with Western Resource Advocates, said the funds with allow better stewardship as the state grapples with what's ahead from changing weather patterns "through things like watershed protection, forest restoration, thinning projects, community-resilience projects - all of which will help insulate communities from the worst effects of a dryer and hotter climate."

Monies from the Legacy Fund will also go to outdoor recreation and infrastructure, agriculture and working lands, historic preservation and wildlife protection. With predictable funding in place, the state will also gain access to untapped federal dollars from the Great American Outdoors Act, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Inflation Reduction Act.

Hayden said passage of the bill to create the fund was years in the making, as environmental groups and others urged lawmakers to follow Wyoming's lead to create dedicated, recurring funding for conservation.

"All the stars kind-of aligned this year," he said, "and we had the support of our legislators, of our administration, and unity in the conservation community about what programs should be included in this fund."

Following this year's legislative session, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also signed Senate Bill 72, creating the Wildlife Corridors Action Plan. It will fund 11 high-priority safe passage projects around the state designed to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and restore habitat connectivity.

Disclosure: Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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Ice cream makers in the U.S. produce more than 1.38 billion gallons of ice cream annually, with consumption usually peaking in July. (auremar/Adobe Stock)

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