Commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month and HECHO's One-Year Anniversary

We were thrilled to celebrate HECHO's One Year Anniversary with so many friends and supporters last week in Washington around Hispanic Heritage Month! We are grateful for everyone's creativity and energy. We especially thank Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for his strong commitment to engaging Latinos in conservation, and the many officials from the Department of the Interior who joined, listened and engaged with us this week. The diversity of attendees that gathered exemplified the expertise, dedication and passion Latinos bring to conservation. From Congressional staff, philanthropic and non-profit organizations, and community leaders, Latinos are already engaged and working every day to ensure the issues we care about receive the attention they deserve.

Here are a few pictures from the event, and below we've included a quick look at some of the key moments from HECHO's efforts over the last year.

We were also excited to see the announcement this week that the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service are making half a million dollars available in matching grants to help projects across the country that will lead to more listings in the National Register of Historic Places associated with Latinos and other underrepresented communities. One of the things we talk about as we meet people and tell them about HECHO’s mission, is the fact that Latinos have been a part of America’s history from the beginning, and the public lands we want to protect have significance for our families that spans generations. Having more sites associated with that history in the National Register is incredibly important.

Thanks again for your support!

Celebrating HECHO's Impact over a Year

Engaging at the National Level: Since our launch last year, we have met on multiple occasions with the Department of Interior and the White House Council on Environmental Quality to encourage inclusion of Latino sportsmen and women in decision-making processes regarding public lands, and have stressed the importance of adoption and implementation of Master Leasing Plans. We have also presented our goals and concerns to elected officials in Washington, DC and in states throughout the Southwest to emphasize our interest in having a strong voice in issues that affect the well-being of our public lands.

Organizing Local Communities: On the local level, we have participated in public meetings and hearings regarding oil and gas leases in western states and have provided direct comment and joined other conservation organizations in commenting on planning and management decisions. We have also voiced our community’s support for the protection of public lands for future generations, including expressing our support for the designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

Conducting Groundbreaking Research: One of HECHO’s most significant endeavors has been to conduct research to better understand Latino support for conservation as well as engagement in outdoor activities. The results of a groundbreaking poll conducted in partnership with Latino Decisions, overwhelmingly confirmed that our priorities are the Latino community’s priorities. The research revealed new information about Latinos and the recreation economy, but also confirmed trends found by other organizations throughout the Latino and conservation communities in their surveys.

Holding policy-makers and elected officials accountable: When the moment has called for it, we have praised policy makers publicly, and we’ve held them accountable in the pages of major publications and online through op-eds and advertising.

Strong Media Presence: We are aggressive on social media, and we’ve brought the voice of Latino sportsmen and women to news articles in national and regional outlets as diverse as PoliticoWashington HispanicThe HillThe Pueblo ChieftainLa Voz, the Taos News, the Albuquerque Journal, and the Las Vegas Daily Optic. Most recently, we have established a blogging presence on Huffington Post.

Education outreach and Partnerships: Working with the Latino community is important to HECHO in building a long-term, well-educated community that supports conservation. This summer HECHO partnered with the Hispanic Access Foundation to bring youth to the outdoors at Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, and to meet with college youth at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. We have also entered into a partnership with New Mexico Wildlife Federation to develop educational programming for kids.

As more and more families enjoy the outdoors, more and more voices will join our movement, and work toward the protection of our public lands.We look forward to continuing to work together to amplify Latino voices at the national and local level. Thanks again for your support, and make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!