HECHO in the News

Critical decisions made today will affect Latino heritage for generations

Juan Palma, HECHO Chief Conservation Officer who spent 30 years with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), writes for the Salt Lake Tribune about the need for balance on public land. The BLM is currently considering uses for 785,000 acres of public land in and near Moab, including recreation, traditional cultural uses, and oil and gas development.

Palma notes that decision-making often excludes our Latino communities, despite the fact that Latinos are among the fastest growing minority groups. Our cultural heritage is intrinsically linked to land and water, especially in the Western United States. He cites a study showing that we also spend more on outdoor gear than the average outdoor consumer. Read Palma’s piece here to learn more about why Latinos need to be involved decision-making about our public land.

Also today, HECHO Executive Director Camilla Simon partnered with President and CEO of the Hispanic Access Foundation Maite Arce to write for The Hill about a critical tool to protect public land, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Congress failed to re-authorize the fund last week, which could have a devastating impact on land and water in the West. Some numbers from the op-ed that are important to note:

  • 0: The amount of money spent by taxpayers on the LWCF.
  • 4: Dollars returned for every $1 of investment.
  • 50: The number of years the LWCF has been in place, helping to protect our most precious public places like the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge.
  • 3,000: The number of jobs created by LWCF investment in 2010 (the last year available), according to the Department of the Interior.
  • 41,000: The number of state and local park projects supported by the LWCF since its inception.
  • 17 BILLION: The amount of money spent through LWCF for creation of parks across the country – without one, single taxpayer dime.

The LWCF has benefited all Americans and, as Latinos, our cultural heritage and traditions depend on public spaces. A couple other numbers to note: 219 Representatives supported re-authorizing the fund while just ONE, Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) stood in the way of America’s most important conservation program. Read more in The Hill.

Please let us know what you think – and share with friends and family!