Deputy Director Max Trujillo just returned from the first national gathering of the wilderness community in more than two decades, the Wilderness 50 conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Together with the Water Conservation Fund Act, it protected more than 109 million acres of pristine landscapes for the last half century. The gathering was also part of the relationship building HECHO is engaged in, developing partnerships that are helping us take more families out to the outdoors so that they too speak out in support of protecting them.
The conference included field trips and teacher workshops that are at the heart of our work. While there, Max even joined with friends from the New Mexico Wildlife Federation to cook up Elk Fajitas! It was important for HECHO to be there in terms of what the Wilderness Act has done, but also because of the need to have Latino voices represented in these gatherings.
Director Rod Torrez addressed that in a recent op-ed published in the Huffington Post, where he noted that Latinos played a significant role in convincing the President to protect the San Gabriel Mountains. He wrote about how this land is a welcome reprieve from the city for Latinos, especially for hunting and fishing, and have been increasingly valuable as a destination for outdoor education programs, with private organizations and public agencies using the area to connect many Latino urban youth to the outdoors. This Wednesday at 5pm ET (2pm PT) Rod will be joining an online panel via Google+ to talk about how Latinos are making their voices heard, and why it matters. We hope you can tune in, and give us your feedback. We’ve included links below to our Huffington Post op-ed as well as to connect to the panel, which will also feature Latino leaders from a variety of other environmental and conservation organizations.
We also need to speak out to ensure that regulators and the oil and gas industry hear our voices on issues of waste and how our public lands are used. Just last week the Western Values Project released a new poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group that showed overwhelming numbers of likely voters in Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Utah support requiring oil companies to significantly reduce the natural gas they release or burn off into the air when they extract oil from public lands. We need to make it clear Latinos are among them. Right now the practice of venting and flaring results in a tremendous waste of natural gas, that in addition to polluting our air and water also affects the night sky that’s so important to our way of life in the southwest. That’s consistent with the findings of the HECHO poll we released earlier this year together with Latino Decisions. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter so that we can keep you updated on how you can help.
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Tune In Wednesday at 5:00 PM ET (2:00 PM PT) Google Hangout on New Latino Advocacy Making a Difference on Conservation
The President’s designation of the San Gabriel Mountains recently was significant not only because of the land it protected, but also because it’s an example of how Latinos are reshaping the political landscape around environmental and conservation efforts. The President didn’t act in a vacuum, there was a decade long effort that included many Latino voices calling for action.
More importantly, it’s only one example where Latinos are raising their voices and calling on elected officials, regulators, and candidates to hear their concerns.
In the last couple of weeks Latino Decisions and NCLR have released polls showing that the major reasons Latinos in states likeColorado (48%) and North Carolina (43%) are going to vote in November’s high-stakes elections, is because they want to “make my voice heard.” This panel of experts from the League of Conservation Voters, HECHO, and Green Latinos will explore that, and the growing voice of our community on green issues.
New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support Across Party Lines for Cutting Down on Waste Through Venting and Flaring
“Despite the high home-heating costs felt by consumers last winter and international disputes over key energy resources, oil companies wasted enough taxpayer-owned energy on public lands to meet the needs of a city the size of Los Angeles or Chicago for an entire year, a sentiment that clearly resonated with those surveyed. Last year, between 111.8 and 133.1 million mcf1 of natural gas produced on federal public lands – if not more – was vented or flared off into the atmosphere before it ever found its way into the energy market.
The survey also reveals that 93% of voters believe that it’s an important priority that ‘companies pay their fair share to taxpayers for the resources they take from public lands.’”
Rod Torrez in Huffington Post: Why we should celebrate role of Latinos in designation of San Gabriel Mountains as National Monument
There are many good reasons to celebrate the new national monument. But it is important to note that the San Gabriel Mountains, along with the Rio Grande del Norte, and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments represent a new approach by protecting the land we love and respecting how we have enjoyed the land for generations. It's encouraging to know that we can continue to enjoy these places for generations to come. It's also satisfying to know that Latinos have played a significant role in protecting them.