Sen. Peter Wirth and other legislators

New Mexico Sen. Peter Wirth, right, is one of the sponsors of a bipartisan bill to create the state's first dedicated funds for conservation efforts. He is seen in March 2017 in Santa Fe at the end of the legislative session with former state senators John Arthur Smith, left, and Jacob Candelaria.

About 36 conservation groups in New Mexico and elsewhere are working to pass a bill that would create the state's first dedicated funding sources to conserve and enhance land and water resources, habitats and certain species in New Mexico, with support from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and some legislators.

Senate Bill 9, cosponsored by Sens. Steven Neville (R-San Juan County) and Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe County), is scheduled to be heard this afternoon by the Senate Finance Committee. It received a “do pass” recommendation by a 7-0 vote from the Senate Conservation Committee on Jan. 31, but not without significant changes recommended by state departments and sponsors. Some of the amendments double the permanent fund balance and significantly increase the investment income required before any disbursement would be made from that fund to six state departments that deal with natural and cultural resource preservation and development.