August 31, 2023

Stansbury legislation aims to promote outdoor economy 

A trail marker on the Lincoln National Forest in August 2023.

Nicole Maxwell/New Mexico Political Report

A trail marker on the Lincoln National Forest in August 2023.

New Mexico is a state known for its expansive outdoor landscape that campers, hikers and daytrippers alike visit from across the country.

U S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, a Democrat from New Mexico, introduced the Rural Outdoor Investment Act along with Democratic Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado and Chuck Schumer of New York.

“New Mexico is a powerhouse in the outdoor economy, with our beautiful and wild landscapes and thriving local economies, which is why I am proud to introduce the Rural Outdoor Investment Act with Senator Bennet,” Stansbury said in a press release. “The outdoor economy brings billions of dollars to New Mexico every year and employs over 35,000 people across the state. New Mexico is proof that investments in our outdoor economies help revitalize and create opportunity in our rural communities. This legislation centers and supports these communities, providing support for outdoor recreation infrastructure, planning assistance, and financial support for businesses. I know this bill will help support our communities and protect our outdoor spaces for generations to come.”

S. 2604 seeks to supply funding to communities across the country to help grow those communities’ economies by providing $50 million per year to recreation and economic development funding.

S. 2604 seeks to invest:

  • $30 million for public works through the Economic Development Administration. This would fund infrastructure improvements from signage, to boat ramps, to new trails;
  • $5 million for planning grants through EDA for communities to create recreation economy plans that optimize their natural places including marketing, branding, business development, fundraising, and tourism management;
  • $2.5 million in university partnerships to promote place-based research, education, and technical assistance to local stakeholders and businesses for this high growth sector; and
  • $12.5 million for the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities grants for Main Street revitalization through outdoor recreation.

S. 2604 was introduced to the Senate on July 27 where it was referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Sponsors Bennet, Stansbury and Schumer urge the Committee to consider the legislation.

Bennet sent a letter to the Committee on Aug. 29 requesting the Act be considered.