At the end of March, eight leading Latino pastors from Coachella, Victorville, Apple Valley and Hesperia joined together to discuss the importance of protecting the California desert and how the Latino community can help lead the charge for its conservation.
Por La Creación: Faith-based Alliance, which held the event, unites Latino faith leaders in an effort to develop stewards of God’s creation by educating and engaging this generation to leave a legacy for the future. By educating Latinos, PLC encourages actively supporting the nation’s public lands and protecting our natural resources.
“For many of us in Southern California, it can be easy to take our amazing desert lands – much of which is safeguarded for our children and grandchildren – for granted,” said Pastor Frank Ruiz of the Indio Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church in Coachella Valley and co-founder of Por La Creación. “It won’t always be that way, however, if we don’t take steps to further protect them and foster our Latino youth’s passion and involvement in caring for the outdoors.”
The California desert still faces many threats — exporting groundwater from desert aquifers, air pollution, rapid community development and encroachments from renewable energy developments — that risk the future of this region. At the Victorville event, the pastors discussed how they can involve the youth and other members of their congregations in protecting the California desert. They also talked about Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act and how it could protect the region’s quality of life and contribute to the local economy. The act would make additions to Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and the Mojave National Preserve; establish two new national monuments and wilderness areas in the desert; and protect existing access for hunting, hiking, off-roading, camping, viewing wildlife, and many other existing tourism and recreation activities.
“Latinos have an important voice in the protection of our public lands. We have a moral responsibility to future generations to protect God’s creation — preserving the mountains, rivers, deserts and other breathtaking landscapes of our nation,” said Ruiz. “Protecting the California desert is crucial not only to the majority of local economies in the area, but also to the spiritual well-being of our community.”