Dear Secretary Jewell,
We’d like to extend our gratitude for your recent speech about your vision for the next 100 years of conservation. As Hispanics who enjoy the outdoors and who have been fighting to protect and expand our public lands, many of your proposals resonate with our mission and recent work as a non-profit. We, too, have been advocating for a major course correction in how we approach conservation to ensure a bright future for our lands and waters, and ultimately future generations.
First of all, thank you for promoting large “landscape-level” planning that assesses land management holistically and with diverse stakeholder input. As you mentioned, Master Leasing Plans are one tool we can use to ensure we’re balancing the many demands we have of our lands: hunting and angling, farming and ranching, cultural resource protection, conservation, recreation, property ownership, local government, and oil and gas development. We’ve been vocal proponents of this type of “smart from the start” planning from our inception and we appreciate your efforts to institutionalize this in the BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule.
Secondly, we commend you for your stance and frank position on the Antiquities Act. You were wise to point out that if it was only invoked when there’s complete agreement, we wouldn’t have public national treasures like the Grand Canyon or Zion National Park. This is another issue that’s very important to us as we fight to protect more places of importance to Hispanics that help highlight the contributions Hispanics have made in this country’s progress and conserve our cultural remnants.
Finally, we stand with you and thank you for emphasizing the importance of Congress doing the right thing by permanently authorizing and fully funding the LWCF. We believe the LWCF is one of the most important piece of federal legislation that has been protecting our nation’s land and water for the last 50 years – and it is critical for protecting places of cultural and historical importance to Hispanic families whose connections to the land go back generations.
As you mentioned, to make this course correction in conservation it is vital that we get more young people and people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds out enjoying our public lands. Once people experience them, they’re much more likely to engage in their management and protection. Part of HECHO’s mission is to have more Hispanic hunter, angler, and outdoor enthusiast participation and representation on public lands management issues. We look forward to supporting your efforts to increase diverse stakeholder engagement and creating new tactics and avenues to achieve this goal.
With sincere gratitude,