news releases

23 August 2022

Monumental SHIFT and Center for American Progress Address Conservation Inequities in the United States

Category: News Releases

Today, Monumental SHIFT and the Center for American Progress released a timely paper highlighting the lack of equity in the land conservation dialogue. In the latest paper release, “National Monuments Are a Missing Piece in President Biden’s Equitable Conservation Agenda,” we find alarming data highlighting the gap between ethnically diverse communities having recreational accessibility and the historical inequity of national monument designation.

“Meaningfully addressing the absence of tribal leadership, not just representation, in land preservation must be a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration and beyond. Historically and intentionally marginalized people and communities are often the most connected to the land, but are most impacted by the climate crisis, and lack of equitable access to the outdoors. Shifting historical inequities and protecting sacred lands are top priorities for Monumental SHIFT.”
José González, Monumental SHIFT

Through its national monument endorsement campaigns, Monumental SHIFT has carried the legacy of the principles of environmental justice and calls on President Biden to use the Antiquities Act to fulfill his campaign promises to protect public lands and address the climate crisis. In particular, this campaign has endorsed the proposed Castner Range national monument in El Paso, Texas.

"Last year, Hispanic Access Foundation released a report showing that only 8% of National Historic Landmarks represent the stories of Native Americans, African Americans, American Latinos, Asian Americans, women and other underrepresented groups. New analysis released today shows that this pattern sadly continues with other protected areas. This new examination of 526 national park sites found that less than a quarter have a primary purpose of documenting historically underrepresented communities.

Protected lands and waters preserve our shared cultural heritage, provide places to recreate and connect with nature, spend time with family and our communities, and
significantly contribute to industries, local economies, and millions of jobs and employment opportunities. Latinos have been an integral part of this shared history. However, our access to public lands, the equal representation of our cultural heritage, and our workforce contributions are not always acknowledged or represented, as this new analysis shows. This report shows the urgency of using the Antiquities Act and other designation tools to protect areas of importance to underrepresented communities. By failing to take these steps toward protection, we risk losing pieces of our past forever."

Maite Arce, President & CEO, Hispanic Access Foundation

“To honor community conservation efforts and begin to resolve inequities in the stories told by the country’s national parks and monuments, President Biden should utilize the Antiquities Act to meet and exceed President Obama’s legacy in the designation of national monuments for historically underrepresented and excluded communities” said Jenny Rowland-Shea, director for Public Lands at CAP and co-author of the column. “To continue to grow as a justice and equity-oriented administration, more land designations are urgently needed.”

Full report available here:

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