Latino Faith Leaders Release Top 5 Conservation Priorities, Encourage Display of Support for National Monuments

Por la Creación Faith-based Alliance (PLC), which develops stewards of God’s creation by educating and engaging this generation to leave a legacy for the future, has released its “Top 5 Conservation Priorities” and is encouraging Latinos nationwide to share their support for national monuments in response to the Trump Administration’s recommendations to reduce the size of multiple monuments and open up others to commercial use.

“Latinos have such an important voice in the protection of our public lands, and a critical role to play in encouraging stewardship of our cherished outdoor and cultural heritage,” said Pastor Cecy Ruano, leader with Iglesia Rosa de Saron in Caldwell, ID. “These conservation priorities stem from the concerns and interests of Latino communities throughout the nation.”

PLC consists of Latino faith leaders, representing more than 150,000 churches nationwide, who engage their communities on issues of conservation and protecting public lands. Founded in 2013 as an initiative of the Hispanic Access Foundation, PLC has been active in numerous national monument efforts including San Gabriel Mountains, Sand to Snow, Mojave Trails, Browns Canyon, Gold Butte, and others. In response to the Executive Order calling for a review of national monuments, including many that were established to celebrate our nation’s cultural and outdoor heritage, PLC members were actively involved in encouraging the Latino community to provide more than 52,000 comments during the public commenting period in support of maintaining or expanding the national monuments.

“We have a moral obligation to protect these lands and leave a legacy for future generations,” said Pastor Martin Martinez, leader con Assemblies of God El Sereno and a member of Por La Creación Faith-based Alliance in Covina, Calif. “With our national monuments at risk, water shortages in the west and the relationship between our environment and health, it’s time for all of us to stand up for our public lands and outdoor heritage.”

The “Top 5 Conservation Priorities” include:

1) Protecting our antiquities
Protecting public lands is about more than just acreage -- it’s critical to preserving places of significance and the historical and cultural heritage of ALL Americans. We have responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation and ensure its existence for future generations. We need tools like the Antiquities Act to care for these special, inspiring places.

2) Defending our public lands
We need balance between energy development and conservation of our nation’s public lands. Public lands transfers and repealing national monument designations, which have been responsible for protecting significant ecological and cultural places, jeopardizes our history, wildlife, tourism and recreational industries.

3) Protecting the Colorado River
The Colorado River sustains over 35 million people, including nearly one-third of the nation’s Latinos. The river is an integral part of our heritage and way of life; it supports wildlife, tourism and our agricultural industry. However, demand on the river’s water now exceeds its supply. We need smart water policies and to protect against pollution to keep our ecosystems intact.

4) Environment and public health
Hispanics bear a disproportionate load when it comes to health risks from toxic emissions and pollution per numerous reports. We have a moral obligation to protect our cherished air, and ensure that our communities and children are not harmed by public health issues, such as those related to methane, that we can knowingly prevent.

5) Engaging next generation of stewards
By 2020, half of all youth in America will be of color. By 2043, a majority of our country’s residents will be people of color. Yet a 2014 Outdoor Foundation study found that 73 percent of Americans who participated in outdoor activities were white. In simple terms, the future of public lands depends on engaging and welcoming our diverse youth. 

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