Latino families and youth from across Colorado have written letters in Spanish and English to President Obama, requesting that he oppose devastating cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund this fall.
In April, the House passed a cost-cutting deal that stripped the Environmental Protection Agency of $1.6 billion in funding, approximately 16 percent of the agency’s total budget. Later in the year, The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a fund intended to preserve America’s open spaces, provide recreational opportunities for all Americans and protect clean water came under threat as well.
Records show that over its 45-year history, more than $17 billion in LWCF funding has been diverted for uses other than land and water conservation, and now Congress is considering drastic measures that would further deplete its resources. These budget cuts stand in direct contradiction to Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, which aims to reconnect people to their public lands.
Recent polling indicates that 9 in 10 Americans want Congress to stop siphoning funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Ninety-five percent of Latinos want it fully funded — a statistic that the Hispanic Access Foundation shared with policy-makers at the White House Hispanic Policy Conference in June.
In August, a group of 50 Latino youth and their families gathered at Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado to discuss ways young families might be further engaged in enjoying and advocating for parks, wildlife habitat and the outdoors. The discussion was moderated by the organizations and hosted by members of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees the nation’s wildlife refuges and national parks.
“Latino youth are the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Kim Weiss, education coordinator for Environmental Learning for Kids, a nonprofit with expertise in introducing youth to Colorado’s natural resources, science and leadership development opportunities. ”These young people have the knowledge, skills, and self-confidence to reach out to the President and ensure he helps to protect our parks, wildlife, and natural resources for future generations.”
Representatives of Environmental Learning for Kids and the Hispanic Access Foundation plan to deliver the letters in-person to the White House and Secretary Salazar later this month.