Latinos, which account for 12 percent of Idaho’s population -- the 16th largest Hispanic statewide population share nationally – applauded the new law, which will ensure that families in Idaho will have access to healthy recreation, more economic opportunities, and clean water and air quality.
“Idaho’s clean water, wildlife habitat, cultural treasures and public lands are entrusted to us to be protected and preserved for the next generation. It is our moral responsibility to care for our land, water, and wildlife,” said Pastora Cecilia Ruano with Rosa de Saron Asamblea de Dios in Caldwell and a member of Por La Creación: Faith-based Alliance. “The bipartisan support of Boulder White Clouds demonstrates just how important stewardship of our outdoor and cultural heritage is to the Latino community.”
In July as part of Latino Conservation Week, Ruano took a group of parents and youth from her church, joined by several other local pastors and members of their congregations, to Boulder-White Clouds to explore the area and learn more about the efforts to protect this public land – an effort that has had broad local support for over 30 years culminating in legislation that had been in the works for more than a decade.
“We certainly want to thank Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) for their continued work to include input from all groups and build broad community support. This was truly a collective effort from all of Idaho,” said Ruano. “We also appreciate the Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Robert Bonnie for listening to the community and supporting the protections.”
While this action should be celebrated, Congressional efforts to pass legislation permanently protecting the country’s most treasured landscapes have been difficult and slow. If not for a public lands package included in the December 2014 defense authorization bill, which created seven new national parks, only one area – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan – has made its way through both Houses of Congress since 2009.
“Protecting our wild landscapes should not be so difficult, which is why it is critical that leaders in Washington use and protect all of the tools available for preserving our public lands, including the Antiquities Act,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, a national nonprofit working to create healthy lives, environments and finances for the nation’s Latinos. “Other communities around the country should not have to wait decades, especially when there is broad local support, for Congress to protect America’s cultural, historic and natural heritage for future generations.”