Voces in Action
Coalition Bands Together for an Inclusive Approach to Our Country’s Public Lands
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Coalition Bands Together for an Inclusive Approach to Our Country’s Public Lands
May 16, 2016
Environment

Our Public Lands:

An Inclusive Vision for the Next 100 Years

Throughout history, our public lands - including national parks, forests, monuments and other areas - have played an important role as part of America’s identity. Unfortunately, these lands have not always been reflective of our country’s demographic and ethnic diversity. This disconnect is becoming more apparent as the face of our country continues to change at a rapid pace and more urgent because the future of our public lands will depend upon public support from all Americans.

Our public lands are facing pressure in Washington, D.C., where some members of Congress would like to sell them off -- and strip the President of his authority to protect our existing national parks and monuments or to create new ones. These attacks are happening alongside increasing commercial and energy development which is putting pressure on our public lands and threatening valuable historical and cultural treasures. Across the country, many of our communities have too little open space; and climate change, air and water pollution are risking our families’ health and our future.

Without a broad base of support, we are at risk of losing the historic, cultural, natural, spiritual, economic and recreational resources that our public lands currently provide and of missing opportunities to identify and conserve other valuable resources for future generations.

As America’s National Park Service celebrates its centennial this summer, we have a responsibility to create a vision for the next century that focuses on the importance of public lands for all Americans. We must find ways to engage all segments of our population so that they become active users, owners and supporters of public lands.

A more inclusive approach to our country’s public lands over the next 100 years must be driven by three guiding principles:

  • REFLECT THE FACES OF OUR COUNTRY: Our public lands must reflect the demographic and ethnic diversity of our nation’s citizens among visitors, the agencies’ workforce and in the designation of new units. This will require a cultural shift within the agencies responsible for managing and overseeing these spaces and a commitment from people outside the agencies to join together to support this approach.
  • RESPECT FOR ALL CULTURES: Our public lands play a unique role in capturing the many different historical, cultural and spiritual stories that have shaped this country; celebrating acts of bravery and sacrifice, recognizing the unique contributions of all Americans, and providing opportunities for atonement and healing. We need to make sure that the full range of these stories are being told at existing and new park sites and public lands. Protecting cultural and natural landscapes that tell America’s complex history will help us learn from our past, honor our ancestors and educate future generations.
  • RESPONSIBILITY TO ACTIVELY ENGAGE ALL PEOPLE: The future of our public lands depends upon public support from all Americans. Moving forward, we must actively and authentically engage a diverse range of communities in new and meaningfulways to build support for our public lands and shape the direction of our future public lands and natural resources policies.

We must use this opportunity to challenge America in its second century of conservation to create a system of public lands that engage, reflect and honor our nation’s entire people.  By doing so, the 21st century will be about protecting our current public lands and designating new landscapes that more broadly reflect America’s rich and varied culture.

 

Maite Arce-President/CEO, Hispanic Access Foundation

Frank & Audrey Peterman-Founders, Diverse Environmental Leaders Speakers Bureau

José G. González-Founder, Latino Outdoors

Vanessa Braided Hair- Co-Founder, ecoCheyenne

Peter Conroy-Co-Chair Freedom Riders Park Charles Person, Original Freedom Rider

Dr. Carolyn Finney-Author, Black Faces White Spaces

Jose Davila-Vice President for Policy & Government Relations, Hispanic Federation

Shantha Ready Alonso-Executive Director, Creation Justice Ministries

 Jocelyn Torres -Nevada Program Director, Conservation Lands Foundation

Priscilla Ouchida-Executive Director, Japanese American Citizens League

Sarah Milligan-Toffler-Executive Director, Children & Nature Network

Mark Masaoka-Policy Director, Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council

Rue Mapp- Founder and CEO, Outdoor Afro

Camilla Simon- Director, HECHO

Mark Magaña- President, GreenLatinos

Silvia N. Perez-Rathell-National Director for Corporate& Federal Relations,League of United Latin American Citizens

Teresa Ana Martinez-Executive Director, Continental Divide Trail Coalition

 Loretta E. Pineda- Executive Director, Environmental Learning for Kids

Xavier Morales-Executive Director,Latino Coalition for a Healthy California

Chad Brown M.Sc. -Founder & Executive Director, Soul River Inc. - Runs Wild

Pastor Frank Ruiz-Co-Founder, Por La Creación Faith Based Alliance

Steve Dunwoody-California Director, Vet Voice Foundation

Christine Alonzo-Executive Director, The Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization

Lorette Picciano- Executive Director, Rural Coalition

Glenn Nelson-Founder, The Trail Posse

Angela Florez-Director of Leadership Programs, Valle del Sol

Jessica Reeves -Chief Operating Officer, VotoLatino

Donald Cravins, Jr.- Senior Vice President for Policy, National Urban League

Pamela Rivera-Partnership & Constituency Advocate, VOCES

Jes Ward -Executive Director, cityWILD

Hillerie C. Patton-President, The Dignitas Agency

Luke Miguel Argleben- Student Advocate

 

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