Governor Lujan Grisham, agency leaders, legislative sponsors introduce, tout outdoor recreation bill
SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday announced bipartisan legislation that would create a new division within state government dedicated to expanding outdoor recreation and related economic development in New Mexico, an important step toward realizing the potential of this exciting segment of the state’s economy.
Senate Bill 462 — co-sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn, Sen. Steven Neville, Rep. D. Wonda Johnson, Rep. Angelica Rubio and Rep. Nathan Small — aligns with Gov. Lujan Grisham’s promise to emphasize state outdoor recreation opportunities by establishing the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Office within the state Economic Development Department.
The department will be led by a director, to be appointed by the governor, who will recruit outdoor recreation businesses to the state; promote and assisting communities in applying for funding opportunities to develop outdoor recreation infrastructure like trails, trailheads, and campsites; develop the promotion and marketing of outdoor recreation opportunities in the state; promote environmental stewardship and outdoor education initiatives; and work in partnership with tribes, pueblos and rural communities, among other duties. An initial budget for the division would accommodate as many as roughly six staff members.
“I want to show the rest of the country that’s engaging in outdoor recreation: We can do it better,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “New Mexico has as much natural beauty as anywhere in the world. We are going to bring in businesses that enliven our rural communities, partner with our tribes and pueblos, and we are going to send a beacon to tourists and young adults the world over: New Mexico is yours to explore.”
“We’re joining other Western states that are already reaping the benefits,” Sen. Steinborn said. “But we have outlined the best model for leveraging outdoor recreation opportunities by drawing from programs in other states.”
“I didn’t have access to the outdoors when I was younger,” Rep. Rubio said. “And many low-income communities and people of color feel disconnected from these wonderful opportunities. The proposal we’re introducing today will finally begin closing that gap.”
The bill would also establish an outdoor equity grant program, the first of its kind, that will provide low-income New Mexico youth as well as youth from communities of color with outdoor recreation opportunities, awarding grants to tribes, pueblos, nonprofits and schools.
In addition to hosting a news conference celebrating the introduction of the bill, the governor rode her bike to work this morning to encourage New Mexicans to get outdoors, no matter the weather. Gov. Lujan Grisham was joined on the ride by Economic Development Secretary-designate Alicia Keyes, Tourism Secretary-designate Jen Schroer and Sen. Steinborn.