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30 November -0001

100 Latino Faith Leaders Unite on California Desert Protection

Category: News Releases

Today, 100 Latino faith leaders from Assemblies of God Southern Pacific District (SPD) jointly sent President Obama a letter urging him to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to preserve the California desert and designate three new national monuments – Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains.

“The desert is facing many threats — proposals to export groundwater from desert aquifers, air pollution, rapid community development and encroachments from renewable energy developments — that risk the future of this region and could have irreversible consequences,” said Pastor Sergio Navarrete, Superintendent for SPD. “As pastors from the California desert, we appreciate not only the natural beauty that surrounds our communities, but we also acknowledge the need to care and protect these areas for future generations.”

Many of the faith leaders have led or taken trips and outings with families, youth and community leaders into the California desert – from trips to Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve to San Jacinto Mountains, Big Morongo Canyon Preserve and most recently Amboy Crater. The 100 signers of the letter signifies how the Latino community has taken charge in engaging their communities and discussing the importance of protecting the desert for California’s diverse communities and future generations.

“Latinos make up nearly 50 percent of the population in the California desert – we have an important voice in the protection of our public lands, and a critical role to play in encouraging stewardship of our outdoor and cultural heritage,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF). “Protecting the California desert is significant to people across many cultures and communities, and it will help strengthen the diverse social fabric of the region.”

Each of the proposed national monuments will greatly benefit the region: Mojave Trails provides vital habitat for a variety of wildlife. It is also steeped in historical significance as it includes irreplaceable archeological and cultural sites. Sand to Snow features one of the most diverse habitats in the country, which includes stunning cultural sites and rare species. Castle Mountain features stunning vistas of California and Nevada desert Mountain ranges.

“Our clean water, wildlife habitat, cultural treasures and public lands are entrusted to us to be protected and preserved for the next generation,” said Pastor Jesse Villarreal of Templo La Hermosa in Coachella. “Our land, water, and wildlife are gifts from God, and it is our moral responsibility to care for these gifts. We should respect and live in harmony with all of God’s creation. President Obama, please help us protect the California desert and fulfill our nation’s moral responsibility in protecting God’s creation by establishing these three national monuments.”

The full letter with the list of signatures can be downloaded at

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