Visit concludes month-long tour highlighting Great American Outdoors Act impacts, highlights collaborative conservation
SAN ACACIA, N.M. — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland today visited three sites across New Mexico to highlight how federal investments are helping improve infrastructure on public lands, invest in local economies, and ensure that public lands are ready to meet the challenges of climate change. During her visits to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro Nature Area, and Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, Secretary Haaland highlighted how the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) and other federal investments are investing millions of dollars towards infrastructure projects to ensure that visitors can continue to enjoy our public lands for generations to come.
The GAOA established the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF), a bipartisan investment that improves visitor experiences, bolsters climate resilience and invests in the economy by creating good-paying jobs in recreation areas, national parks, wildlife refuges and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)-funded schools. GAOA’s LRF funding sunsets after fiscal year 2025 and would need to be reauthorized by Congress to continue the efforts underway to address significant infrastructure needs across public lands. The trip concludes a month-long tour by Interior Department leaders throughout the nation to highlight how these investments are addressing long-deferred maintenance projects and making significant investments in our outdoor infrastructure.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is considered one of the premier birdwatching sites in the state of New Mexico. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff briefed Secretary Haaland on upcoming construction projects, which are supported by $19 million in GAOA funding. The project designs include measures that will make the visitor center and headquarters building more energy efficient and accessible. Secretary Haaland also saw the newly completed observation deck built by the GAOA Maintenance Action Team. The new platform provides an accessible, maintenance-free wildlife viewing opportunity and replaces a dilapidated and outdated structure.
Secretary Haaland also traveled to Socorro Nature Area, where facilities have deteriorated with increased visitation. With $400,000 in GAOA funding, the Bureau of Land Management is making much-needed repairs that will keep visitors safe and ensure the site complies with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. During the visit, Secretary Haaland saw several projects that are currently underway and are supporting 353 jobs.
Since 2021, GAOA projects have supported an average of 17,000 jobs and generated an average of $1.8 billion for local economies annually. For fiscal year 2024, Interior proposed 56 projects that are expected to support more than 17,500 jobs and generate over $1.9 billion for the economy.
While in Southern New Mexico, Secretary Haaland also visited Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, where she toured water management research projects that are a priority in the face of climate impacts on extreme drought in the Western United States. In partnership with the University of New Mexico, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works on important water forecasting and ecosystem research. The partnership is a model of the collaborative conservation priorities outlined in President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative, which is a call to action to conserve, connect and restore 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.