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Local groups receive state beautification grants

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Two local community groups have received $51,905 in grants from a program administered by the New Mexico Tourism Department.

The Keep Roswell Beautiful group received $28,303 from the New Mexico Clean and Beautiful grant program for fiscal year 2021-22, while the Keep Chaves County Beautiful organization was awarded $23,602, according to information released by the Tourism Department on Wednesday.

The Clean and Beautiful grant program funds initiatives to end littering, reduce waste, beautify communities, empower youth and increase program capacity — goals that are in keeping with the Keep America Beautiful mission and the state Litter Control and Beautification Act.

All approved applications received some funding, said Cody Johnston, a public information officer with the Tourism Department.

The city of Roswell will use the money for a “variety of projects, some of which are a litter-prevention campaign, large trash cans to be used at events, cleanup supplies for community cleanup efforts, a recyclable art youth project, a pollinator garden at the zoo, the annual Arbor Day tree seedlings giveaway, and a community mural,” said Public Information Officer Todd Wildermuth.

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Representatives with Keep Chaves County Beautiful could not be reached by press time.

The head of the state’s Tourism Department said the investment will help communities.

“One of the things we’ve seen during the pandemic is the incredible demand for outdoor experiences and engagement with public lands,” Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer said. “By increasing our investment in waste reduction and community beautification efforts through the Clean and Beautiful Grant Program, the Tourism Department continues to provide communities support to ‘Keep New Mexico True.’”

The state announced that a record 53 communities were awarded grants for fiscal year 22, receiving a total of $789,800.

The budgeted amount for the grant program increased $11,100 from fiscal year 21. An additional 16 communities applied for grants this year.

The Tourism Department also reported an increase in grantee retention in FY22. Nearly 90% of FY21 grant recipients applied for the program in FY22, compared to a previous retention rate of 71% for FY21, the announcement indicated.

The department indicated that grant funds were distributed equitably among the six tourism regions in the state. The southeast region saw the largest share, with 30% of grant funds. The northwest and southwest regions each received about 17% of funding. The central and north central regions received about 14% each, while the northeast region received 8%.

Investments in New Mexico’s tribal communities also increased in FY22. Five tribal communities were awarded $61,225.38 in FY22, representing a 308% increase compared to the prior year.

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