New Mexico’s Outdoor Equity Fund keeps growing with state and private business contributions to expand the outdoor recreation economy, especially by creating “transformative outdoor experiences” for low-income youth.

REI Co-op has awarded $12,500 to the fund, which now has $252,200 after starting in May with $140,000 in state funding. Since then, another $100,000 was appropriated for the Outdoor Equity Fund from the Legislature, said Axie Navas, director of the state Outdoor Recreation Division, which is part of the New Mexico Economic Department.

Awards to outdoor recreation businesses will range from $1,500 to $15,000 for programs that serve and have a well-developed plan to engage at least 40 percent low-income youths in outdoor recreation activities, Navas said.

The state has received 18 applications so far, including teaching at-risk kids fly-fishing and archery skills to outdoor field trips based around a climate change curriculum. The deadline for applications is Aug. 1, she said.

Local Flavor magazine has given $200 to the fund, and the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico, the Turner Foundation and the Wilderness Society are expected to contribute to the fund in the near future, Navas said.

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