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HAF Celebrates 115th Anniversary of the Antiquities Act

Historic Law Plays Critical Role in Protecting Cultural Heritage 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today marks the 115th anniversary of the Antiquities Act, an instrumental law that has protected and included the history and contributions of Latino and other diverse communities in our public lands and historical sites. In response to this historic day, Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, released the following statement.

“While the number of national monuments focusing on the history, culture and lives of diverse communities still falls short of truly representing our nation’s cultural heritage, Presidents yielding their authority to create national monuments under the Antiquities Act have done more than Congress to protect diverse sites. This is especially true over the past 25 years, which has led to the establishment and protection of national monuments like Cesar Chavez, Bears Ears, Camp Nelson Heritage, and Rio Grande Del Norte.

“In fact, many of our country’s best-loved places would not be preserved if not for the immediate action afforded presidents through the Antiquities Act. Seventeen presidents – nine Republicans and eight Democrats – have used this authority to create more than 130 national monuments – including the inspiring Grand Canyon, the iconic Statue of Liberty and many other of our nation's most spectacular and historically important public lands.

“While there is still a long way to go, the Antiquities Act is an important tool in the process of establishing equity in our nation’s public lands and increasing opportunities for physical activity and access to open spaces for Latino and other low-income communities.” 

“As we reflect on this anniversary, it’s important we recommit to preserving the Antiquities Act and honoring its importance in protecting, recognizing and celebrating the diverse cultures and contributions from all Americans. 

In 1906, Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law granting the executive office the authority to establish national monuments.To this day, it remains as one of the most powerful federal tools to preserve open space, natural treasures and cultural and historical sites in the U.S. 

Two years ago, The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019 was introduced in both the House and Senate in response to President Trump’s attempt to eliminate two million acres of protections for Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments — the largest rollback of federally protected lands in American history. After being elected into office, President Biden took swift action to begin reversing the environmental damage caused by the Trump Administration's policies by reviewing the boundaries and conditions of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monuments.

REI: Organizations Bringing Joy Outside

These individuals and grassroots organizations are building a more inclusive and equitable outdoor community.

The outdoors should be a place where everyone can feel safe and be themselves. But for a long time, the outdoor industry and media have reinforced a narrow definition of what an “authentic” outdoor experience looks like–one that’s often organized around specific activities or based on achievement. This has contributed to limited depictions of the myriad ways people find meaning, joy and a sense of community outside.

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RICHLAND SOURCE: Green space in cities can bring considerable health benefits for communities

With the arrival of spring, Platte Farm Open Space, located in the diverse, working-class neighborhood of Globeville in north Denver, comes alive with native grasses, pollinator gardens that attract bees and butterflies, and wildflowers, such as Mexican hat, asters, poppies, and Gaillardia.

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THE FRESNO BEE: The mission: To conserve 30% of the San Joaquin Valley’s remaining open lands for all

Access to the benefits of nature is a human right, but for many in the San Joaquin Valley, a healthy ecosystem and local green spaces are often out of reach. Historical patterns of habitat conversion and racial exclusion have fostered policies that pressured communities of color into neighborhoods without many basic amenities and have limited access to public lands. These same trends have also led to our region having significant adverse public health impacts and substantial loss of native animals and plants.

While 22% of California’s lands and 16% of waters are protected, this percentage does not provide the resilience needed to meet the ecological and social priorities of the 21st century. In an effort to correct these trends, California and the federal government are following the lead of scientists, policy makers and community advocates by committing to conserve 30% of our lands and waters by the year 2030.

The effort known as 30 x 30 (30 by 30) kicked off in October when Gov. Newsom made California the first state to commit to the conservation goals set by international scientists. On May 6, the U.S. Department of Interior also released “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,” a report on using locally led efforts towards achieving the U.S. 30x30 goal. This creates the unprecedented opportunity to protect the San Joaquin Valley from further impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss while supporting equitable access for local green spaces.

 

Recently, the Hispanic Access Foundation’s “The Nature Gap” report assessed areas nationwide that are the most “nature-deprived,” meaning regions with inequitable access to the outdoors. Compared to other places in the U.S., the report identified parts of California as having both the highest proportion of people of color or low-income households and the most limited access to nature. For example, in Bakersfield, only 6% of the city’s land is used for park space and Visalia is worse at only 2%.

Further exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our collective need for access to the many benefits of nature — and the unjust experiences that many people of color have in the outdoors — is a problem that national, state, and local leaders can no longer ignore.

 

The San Joaquin Valley still holds vast potential to address our nature gap. With another year of oncoming drought and wildfire, we can no longer afford to miss this opportunity to protect our precious lands or continue denying equitable access to these lands for our communities.

California’s 30x30 process must protect spaces like the San Joaquin River Gorge Recreation Area, which is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, alongside new green areas like the proposed 3,000-acre Huron Pino Wilderness Park in west Fresno County. These types of green investments also support California’s goal of climate resilience, improving public health, enhancing carbon sequestration, protecting and advancing underground water recharge, and providing habitat for countless species, flora, and fauna.

California, and in particular the Natural Resource Agency, should learn from Black, indigenous, and other people of color in developing strategies for conserving lands, waters, plants and wildlife. Whether it’s wildfire management orpreservation of biodiversity, it’s clear we stand to benefit from taking the lead from their expertise. For example, Indigenous communities already successfully manage or hold tenure over lands that contain 80 percent of the world’s remaining plant and animal diversity. Furthermore, it’s time to give tribal communities a seat at the table as California maps out a vision for the future of the ecosystems we all depend on.

The San Joaquin Valley cannot afford to sit out this process. We must ensure that the state fulfills its promise to conserve 30% of our natural spaces for generations to come with strong protections. We encourage the public to participate throughout the community engagement process that our government is holding as part of its 30x30 implementation. Together, with your help, we can advocate for new parks and open space and help benefit our economy through ecotourism and local stewardship jobs while improving our region’s air and water.

Latest Blog

First Month Down

My first month here at Sequoia National Forest has been one full of new skills and adventure. As I wind up my first month here in Sequioa I am slowly coming into my role and what it means to be a Resource Assistant for the Recreation Department here. Although my strength is public education and programs, I am learning that my role will be more of a maintenance and recreation technician role. These past few weeks I have been working alongside our recreation technicians in hazard reduction and trash, campground, and bathroom maintenance. It has been a learning experience as a lot of the tools we use are unfamiliar. It was my first time using a hula hoe, mcleod, auger, post hole digger, and more. I also fixed my first broken faucet which I was really proud of. I have also had the privilege of meeting the Keepers of the Kern, a forest service partner that organizes cleanups around the river twice a week, and are a tremendous help to us (see picture above). Furthremore, I feel like I have officially been initiated into the Recreation Department as I got my first spritz of trash juice on my arm, yay! And on Labor Day weekend as well, so it felt like a sign of luck! 

Besides the maintenance work, I was also able to go out one day with Shannon from Natural Resources to tag trees for our timber sale. I really enjoyed going out to hike and learning how tagging works and the rules surrounding timber sales. I think this has been my favorite experince. I hope to learn more about timber sales and become more familar with the process as it seems to be an important process here at this National Forest. I was also able to go out with Shannon and do some owl surveys with her at night. I can now say I am an offical "hooter". I really really enjoyed going out and leanring how to do wildlife surveys, it was really educational and I know will help expand my skills. 

All in all, I am excited to get to learn more and hopefully shadow more departments. 

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Sequoia National Forest

Excited for What's to Come

Hello!

As my first month is coming to an end, l am reflecting on all the experiences and events that have brought me to this moment. My interest in public lands started around the age of seven when my family and I would attend ranger talks during our camping trips to National Parks. I admired those in uniform educating visitors about the night sky, California condors, and bear safety. My love for open spaces grew with every camping trip.

While in college I volunteered at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve because I wanted to help protect the wildflowers that inspire people to travel for hours just to see those orange rolling hills. Little did I know that I would be on the other side organizing volunteer events and developing relationships with partners here at the Kaibab National Forest as the Volunteer and Partnership Coordinator. I still feel new to my position, but I also learned so much at the same time. Last month I attended several trainings about inclusion, equity, bias, wilderness stewardship, Leave No Trace, and diversity. There is still a lot of work to be done in the US Forest Service regarding diversity and inclusion within the agency, but I am impressed by the amount of resources that are being offered to its employees. 

These trainings are teaching me how I can make my environment more welcoming. I want to actively make every volunteer feel like they belong in this space no matter how “outdoorsy” they feel. Aside from my official position, I want to inspire people to connect with nature. That connection is relative to every individual, for some it might be a backpacking trip to a wilderness area, while for others it is a walk around a popular local park. I hope to amplify that message during Latino Conservation Week by breaking down preconceived notions of what “outdoorsy” looks like. I want to remind everyone that anyone can be part of the environmental movement.  

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Kaibab National Forest

Welcome to Williams, Arizona

I moved to Williams, Arizona a month before graduating from college to work in the Williams Visitor Center, on behalf of the Forest Service of the Kaibab National Forest. I had my hesitations and fears, but the excitement I had about this new adventure pushed them in the furthest space of my brain, only to release them a few days prior to moving. 

I have never left Southern California for this long. One of my biggest fears of leaving California and heading to Arizona are the social and political differences and tensions our states hold. I have had my fair share of experiences with racism and microaggressions, but for some reason I thought that in Arizona it would be different, or perhaps even heightened, due to my preconceived schemas and stereotypes about Arizona and its people. 

It has only been a month and my experience so far has been great. I’m happy to report that so far it has not been what I imagined, it has been quite the opposite actually. Every person I have met through the Forest Service is as kind as they are cool, so are my coworkers at the Visitor’s Center, and the same goes for the locals! 

At the Visitor’s Center, I have worked with a crew of strong, independent, and intelligent women. I’m learning how each of them has had their fair share of adverse life-experiences, but they have or are currently growing from them. They also are all amazing mothers that love their children unconditionally, and will fight tooth and nail for them if need be. They remind me of my mom. 

On the day of my graduation, because there was not much virtual fanfare, I simply went to work. During my lunch break, I had a virtual graduation celebration for my Leadership Studies minor which I did end up going for the most part. As soon as I was exiting the breakroom, I heard the infamous graduation song Pomp and Circumstance, and I saw my coworkers waiting for me with a balloon and a rose. It is one of the nicest things I’ve ever experienced, and it is certainly not something I’d expect from folks that I have just met.

I’m grateful for this fellowship opportunity in collaboration with HAF, MANO, the Forest Service, the Kaibab National Forest, and the city of Williams, because I have already learned so much in my month here. I now know so much about places I have yet to visit, like the Grand Canyon and the greater Northern Arizona area. I’ve visited Keyhole sink with a group of students and Forest Service employees, and I learned much more about the rich history and culture in this region. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the community better by getting involved in events like their city-wide clean up event as well as by making conversation with locals in the shops and restaurants. Most importantly, I am most grateful for this experience because it broke down schemas and fears I had prior to arriving. I have regained confidence in exploring the rest of the country, and later the world.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program (COR)

Location: Kaibab National Forest

First Month as an RA

 My first week as an RA was an orientation week in which I felt very welcomed to the Forest Service. The guest speakers and presentations were amazing and covered a range of useful topics. From meeting RAP Alumni to a financial literacy workshop teaching us how to be more organized with our money. The whole orientation week was a great time and an amazing introduction to what the Forest Service can do for us as Resource Assistants. The Greening Youth Foundation leaders were great hosts and thoroughly organized. I was surprised by the fact that there was an app made for the orientation which goes to show how professional and well-structured this orientation was.
 

During the orientation, the conversation of being an RA while teleworking kept coming up, and recommendations were made on how to make the most out of being an RA during these unprecedented times. In my experience, it has been a bit difficult to meet new people since the only way to interact with staff is through Teams meetings or e-mails. Navigating this new space virtually is a new endeavor for me and many others but I know that it will take time to adjust and create connections with people. Although there is a loss for in-person connections, the staff that I have met have all been very welcoming and kind enough to explain to me the projects that they are working on.

I was a bit nervous to start my first day on the fellowship but I was extremely motivated by the orientation speakers, telling us about the amount of liberty we have in deciding the outcome of our fellowship and that we take out what we put in. With tomorrow being my first full month as a Special Uses RA, I can say that it has been a great experience so far. The Special Uses field seems very complex to me so far and it seems like there are various elements to land use permitting. But just like learning anything new, it takes some time and my supervisor has been very understanding by having me do training and sit in on meetings to absorb information at my own pace. I have also had the opportunity to follow the Recreation Residence Program Administrator on a cabin inspection. This was my first time in the Cleveland forest, and it was great to finally meet someone from the Forest Service in person. Looking towards the future, I am excited to learn new skills such as gaining more work experience and contributing helpful work to the Special Uses team.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Cleveland National Forest

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HAF improves the lives of Hispanics in the United States and promotes civic engagement by educating, motivating and helping them access trustworthy support systems.

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