I’ve lived in or around Albuquerque most of my life. I grew up here, raised my children here, and as the state representative for House District 21, I’ve seen my wonderful quirky city from every angle. Still, I’ll never forget the first time I saw it, from the top of the Sandia Mountains.
I was 9 years old and a member of Girl Scout Troop No. 570. Our troop and chaperones set out early one weekend to hike the La Luz Trail to the highest point of the Sandia Mountains. It was the first time hiking for most of us, and we were enchanted by the ponderosa pines, excited – and a little scared – by the rocky, winding path, and surprised by the old twisted juniper jutting out of the middle of the trail. Most of all, we were awestruck the first time we saw Albuquerque from the top of the mountain.
My memories of that weekend are similar to the memories of thousands of New Mexico residents lucky enough to have experienced public lands, many of which are protected by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The Sandia Foothills are just one of 84 LWCF grant projects in Bernalillo County alone, but the fund doesn’t just protect the grand open spaces outside the city.
The LWCF, since its inception, has funded playgrounds, pools and city parks across the nation. Phil Chacon Park, one of my favorites in my own district, was made possible with financial backing from the LWCF.