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An Act Relating To Natural Resources; Enacting The Forest And Watershed Restoration Act; Providing Long-term Funding For Forest And Watershed Restoration; Creating The Forest And Watershed Restoration Board; Creating The Forest And Watershed Restoration Fund; Providing For A Distribution From The Insurance Department Suspense Fund To The Forest And Watershed Restoration Fund; Making An Appropriation.

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MOD HB 038

Legislative URL:
HB 038 on
Emergency Clause:
HPREF [3] HAWC/HEENC/HAFC-HAWC [5] DP-HEENC [11] DNP-CS/DP-HAFC [21] DP [24] PASSED/H (58-0) [25] SCONC/SFC-SCONC [33] DP/a-SFC [41] DP - fl/a- PASSED/S (37-0) [46] h/cncrd VETO.

Related Legislators

Bill Sponsor:

Related Documents

HAWC Committee Report
HEENC Committee Report
HEENC Committee Substitute
HAFC Committee Report
Final House Vote
SCONC Committee Report
SFC Committee Report
Senate Floor Amendment 1
Final Senate Vote
Fiscal Impact Report
Final Version
Governor's Message

This bill, for the Water and Natural Resources Committee, would enact the Forest and Watershed Forest and Watershed Restoration Board,” administratively attached to the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Restoration Act. It would establish a 10-member “, and consisting of:

  • the State Forester;
  • the Commissioner of Public Lands or the commissioner’s designee;
  • the director of the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute at New Mexico Highlands University or the director’s designee;
  • the Secretary of Economic Development or the secretary’s designee;
  • the Secretary of Environment or the secretary’s designee; and
  • five public members appointed by the governor from a list of nominees submitted to the governor jointly by the senate and house majority and minority floor leaders of the legislature:

(a) one of whom shall be a representative of a statewide association of counties;

(b) one of whom shall be a member of the soil and water conservation commission; and

(c) three of whom shall be practitioners, with diverse expertise in the ecology and economics, of treatment and restoration of forests and forest watersheds.


The board shall:

  • adopt guidelines, protocols and best management practices for forest and watershed preservation projects;
  • foster partnerships and cooperation among federal, state and county agencies, tribal entities, political subdivisions of the state, soil and water conservation districts, the forest products industry and other public or private organizations dedicated to forest and watershed preservation and restoration programs or projects;
  • evaluate and prioritize projects for funding; and
  • adopt rules necessary for the proper administration of the Forest and Watershed Restoration Act.


A “project” is defined as a forest and watershed restoration project to increase the adaptability and resilience to recurring drought and extreme weather events of the state’s forests and watersheds; protect water sources; reduce the risk of wildfire, including plans for watershed preservation; restore burned areas; thin forests; or a related economic or work force development project.


The board is authorized to:

  • provide partial or full funding for approved projects;
  • facilitate and coordinate funding from multiple sources for projects, when appropriate;
  • develop or approve projects, activities, agreements and contracts with project sponsors; and
  • monitor, evaluate and revise plans and projects using adaptive management practices to ensure the long-term effectiveness of projects funded by the board.


The “Forest and Watershed Restoration Fund” is created in the state treasury, to be administered by the EMNRD. Money in the fund is appropriated to the board to carry out the purposes of the act and to fund projects authorized by the board. Money in the fund shall not revert to the general fund.


The Insurance Code is amended to provide for the transfer at the end of each month of $1,250,000 to the Forest and Watershed Restoration Fund from that part of the balance remaining in the Insurance Department Suspense Fund derived from the premium tax.


The bill details project funding priorities based on:

  • inclusion in current state forest and watershed plans;
  • integration with community and economic development plans;
  • protection of watersheds that are the source of drinking water;
  • areas at high risk of catastrophic wildfire;
  • matching contributions from federal, state and other sources;
  • state and federal permits and authorizations;
  • if the project is in an area a) with a wood supply that can be used as biomass for energy production; b) where small-diameter trees may be put to commercial use; or c) where traditional forest products may be produced;
  • if the project is clustered around priority areas that can supply a useful amount of wood products for industry; and
  • if the project creates incentives to increase investment by federal, state, local, tribal or private entities, including investment by downstream water users to manage forested headwaters and water sources.


Beginning July 1, 2015, sponsors may apply to the board for project approval. A sponsor’s application shall include: a comprehensive work plan; a complete project cost estimate; how the plan meets best management practices and project protocols; funding sources for the project; other partners and cooperating entities involved in the project; and the estimated time necessary to complete the project.


In considering a project for approval the board shall examine the project’s compliance with the board’s

protocols and standards for projects; the sponsor’s ability to contribute the necessary financial and human resources to the project; the project’s conformance with the requirements of the act; and the project’s compatibility with concurrent forest and watershed restoration projects.


At least 45 days prior to each legislative session, the board shall submit to the governor and the legislature a report concerning its activities, the projects implemented and any recommended legislation.


While the bill appears to be a positive step towards increasing forest and watershed health, it may also generate concerns that:

  • the composition of the board does not include any members of the conservation community or wildlife experts;
  • the requirement for the board to adopt guidelines, protocals and best management practices does not set any parameters; and
  • funding would be allowed for promoting industry, including forest products and biomass, without setting parameters.


The House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee Substitute for HB 38 adds five additional members to the Forest and Watershed Restoration Board:

  • the Director of the Department of Game And Fish or the Director’s designee;
  • the Director of the Interstate Stream Commission or the Director’s designee;
  • a member of the Soil and Water Conservation Commission or the Commission’s designee; and
  • two nonvoting advisory members:
  • one of whom is a representative from the United States Forest Service; and
  • one of whom is a representative from the Federal Bureau of Land Management.


The substitute also adds wildlife conservation or habitat improvements projects to the definition of projects. And, it removes the section providing for a transfer of funds from Insurance Department Suspense Fund to the Forest and Watershed Restoration Fund.


A benefit of the substitute may be that it addresses concerns about the composition of the board.


On March 12th the Senate Conservation Committee amended the HEENRC Substitute for HB 38 to:

  • administratively attach the Forest and Watershed Restoration Board to the State Land Office instead of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (ENMRD);
  • provide that the Forest and Watershed Restoration Fund will be administered by the State Land Office instead of EMNRD; and
  • change several requirements for a project to receive funding priority to requirements for a project to be eligible for funding.


Note: Related bill HB 474 provides funding for the Forest and Watershed Restoration Fund by annual transfers, beginning on June 30, 2015, from the Fire Protection Fund.