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Hispanics are passionate about their public parks and open spaces. Parks are often the center of family life and activities, used as social settings for picnics and get-togethers with family and friends. As such, their protection ranks high on Hispanics’ priority list.
So, it’s of little surprise to me when I see the results of polls, like the recent 2012 Colorado College Western States Survey, which shows that the protection of parks, clean air and water is a top issue for Latinos. In fact, 87 percent of Latinos surveyed believe we can protect land and water while still having a strong economy – we don’t have to choose one over the other. Even further, 94 percent agree that public lands such as national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife areas are “an essential part” of the economies of western states.
It seemed only natural for the Hispanic Access Foundation to launch an online petition where Latinos can urge President Barack Obama to create news parks and monuments, as well as to continue protections for our land, air and water. Upon signing, the petition delivers an email directly to the White House.
Hispanics need a way to inform their elected officials about their concerns for protection and funding related to the environment and our natural spaces. This petition gives them a megaphone for their voices to be heard.
And Hispanics should receive unprecedented attention.
The U.S. Latino population is now at 50.5 million – 16.3 percent of the total population – according to the 2010 Census. Not only has the population reached new heights, but Latinos are also a growing force in elections. Between 2004 and 2008, the number of Latino voters grew by 28 percent, while the total number of voters increased by only four percent. 2012 should see a record number of Latinos heading to the polls.
To be clear, cultural traditions are not the sole reason these and other Latino voters consistently express strong support for clean air, water and land. The U.S. Hispanic population is disproportionately affected by environmental contamination in many parts of the country.
Latinos are 165 percent more likely to live in counties with unhealthy levels of air pollution, unsafe drinking water, and lead and mercury contamination – all of which can cause serious health problems – according to the American Lung Association. Hispanics also face higher rates of asthma than whites, and because they account for nearly one-third of those not protected by health insurance, they are less likely to receive specialized care.
In the Colorado College survey, which polled 2,400 register Latino voters in six key western states, 80 percent of the respondents view air pollution as a serious problem in their state, and see the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws as important protections rather than burdensome regulations.
A 2004 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council provides some credence to that belief. Ninety one (91) percent of Hispanics in the country live in metropolitan areas where air pollution is often present. One-third of U.S. Latinos live in western states where arsenic, industrial chemicals and fertilizer residues often contaminate local drinking water supplies. Furthermore, the study found that one and half million U.S. Latinos live in colonias – unincorporated communities with substandard housing – along the U.S.-Mexico border, where a lack of potable water and sewage treatment contributes to waterborne diseases such as hepatitis and cholera.
The environmental concerns make the voices of Latino voters all the more important. And for the sake of this generation and the next, its time for policymakers to finally acknowledge and embrace the will of the nation’s Hispanics.
Read more at HuffingtonPost.com
New Petition Urges Obama to Listen to Latinos on Environment
Calls for new parks and monuments creation, continued protection of land, air and water.
WASHINGTON – The Hispanic Access Foundation has launched a campaign asking Latinos to sign an online petition, which sends an email to the White House, asking President Obama to create news parks and monuments in the west, as well as to continue protections for our land, air and water.
“Latinos are passionate about their public parks and open spaces, which is why protection is important to them,” said Maite Arce, executive director of HAF. “This petition gives Latinos the opportunity to have their voices heard.”
The petition follows on the heels of a survey released Jan. 30 by Colorado College showing that 87 percent of Latinos in western states believe that having a strong economy and protecting land and water are compatible. The poll also found that 94 percent see public lands such as national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas as “an essential part” of the economy.
And just last week, Ken Salazar, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, reiterated his call for more parks and monuments throughout the country that recognize the history and culture of American Latinos.
“The Latino population has surpassed 50 million and a record number of Latinos are expected to vote this November,” said Arce. “Our elected officials can no longer ignore the will of Hispanics. I encourage all Latinos to take action and voice their support.”
The petition is available at http://www.4ourparks.org and will be available through the month of February.
TAKE ACTION: TELL PRESIDENT OBAMA WE CARE ABOUT OUR ENVIRONMENT
WASHINGTON – While the economy is at the forefront of every voter’s concerns this election season, a new survey released today by Colorado College shows that 87 percent of Latinos believe that having a strong economy and protecting land and water are compatible.
The results from the 2012 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll find that Latino western voters – a growing and politically-significant constituency in the upcoming elections – support upholding and strengthening protections for clean air, clean water, natural areas and wildlife. They view America’s parks and public lands as essential to their state’s economy, and quality of life.
“Hispanics are passionate about their public parks and open spaces,” said Maite Arce, executive director of the Hispanic Access Foundation. “Parks are often the center of family activities, gatherings, and even their careers. As such, their protection ranks high on Hispanics’ priority list.”
The survey, completed in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming by Public Opinion Strategies and Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, found that across multiple issues, Latino voters express stronger pro-conservation views than their Anglo counterparts.
Additional findings include:
- Ninety-four percent see public lands such as national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas as “an essential part” of the economies in these states.
- Seventy-eight percent believe increasing the use of renewable energy will create jobs in their state.
- Eighty percent want to reduce consumption of coal, oil, and gas by expanding use of renewable energy.
- Eighty-eight percent said that cuts to funding for state parks and protections for water quality was a serious problem in their state, indicating that even with tight state budgets, they want government to find a way to maintain investments in land, parks, water, and wildlife protection.
- Seventy-five percent would support the creation of new parks and monuments in their state.
- More than 80 percent view air pollution as a serious problem in their state, and see the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws as important protections rather than burdensome regulations.
The 2012 Colorado College Western States Survey is a bipartisan poll conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. The poll surveyed 2,400 registered voters in six key western states (AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY, MT) January 2 through 5 & 7, 2012, and yields a margin of error of + 2.0 percent nationwide and +4.9 statewide.
The full survey is available on the Colorado College website.
Dear President Obama,
I am Latino and the protection of our environment, as well as the preservation of our parks, is a significant concern I have regarding the future of our country.
I am not alone in this belief. A recent poll by Colorado College shows nearly 9 out of every 10 Western Latinos surveyed believe that a strong economy is compatible with protecting our land and water.
I urge you to take action. Please create new parks and monuments in the West, and sustain investments in, and protections for, our land, air, and water.
LAS CRUCES – There was nothing to dispute Wednesday among the 50 or so southern New Mexicans who were at the Monte Vista Day Use Area, immediately east of Tortugas Mountain, also known as “A” Mountain.
The view to the east of the Organ Mountains was breathtaking. For that matter, the vistas in any direction were pretty spectacular.
“AARP has touted this as a special place to live, …weren’t they right,” said John Muñoz, president of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces. “Where else can you get a suntan in January?”
There was a titter of laughter from the group, and then a collective sigh. Muñoz and the national retirement magazine was right; the views of the Organs and those of the desert landscape in every direction were something to behold. And the people who were gathered Wednesday were there to emphasize that point.
Hispanic leaders from throughout the state have banded together to call for congressional leaders to enact federal legislation to protect public lands in southern New Mexico, such as the Organs; the Robledo Mountains, near Radium Springs; the Potrillo Mountains, and Sierra de las Uvas. Twenty-nine Hispanic leaders, including former governor Jerry Apodaca and former state Attorney General Patricia Madrid – both Las Cruces natives – have signed and sent a letter to Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, New Mexico Democrats, and Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., to support the proposed Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act, introduced into the U.S. Senate last year.
“We are writing to convey our strong support for the protection of the environmentally, culturally, and historically rich landscapes of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region in Doña Ana County,” said a portion of the open letter to southern New Mexico’s congressional delegation. “Hispanic culture and presence in New Mexico is and has always been closely connected to our state’s rich public lands. These areas provide our families and communities with recreation, hunting, traditions and so much more. Throughout time, they have also brought travelers and tourists, and with them economic development.
“As such, protecting these national treasures is an important priority to us, and to our future.”
The Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce and the group People for Preserving Our Western Heritage have opposed federal wilderness designation for the area, arguing, among other things, that it would hamper the Border Patrol in being able to secure the southern border.
Mesilla Mayor Nora Barraza, among those who signed the letter, said those natural resources within the county are also an integral part of the culture, traditions and values many southern New Mexico Hispanics have.
“I can attest to the efforts of preservation,” Barraza said. “If we lose these beautiful landscapes we can never recover them. Isn’t this why we call this (state) the Land of Enchantment.”
Madrid emphasized the need for federal leaders to take immediate action to protect southern New Mexico’s vistas.
“It is up to our generation to protect these incredible lands as both the key to celebrate our history, as well as a birthright of future generations,” Madrid said.
Retired state representative J. Paul Taylor, of Mesilla, added there is even family history to one of the county’s more notable public lands. The Robledo Mountains, just north of Las Cruces near Radium Springs, are named after Don Pedro Robledo, a descendant of Taylor’s family.
He also has a strong affinity for the Organ Mountains.
“Los Organos – the Organs, have been an essential part of Hispanic culture in this valley for hundreds of years,” Taylor said. “They were a landmark for travelers on the Camino Real, and a consistent source of food, shelter, and materials for local residents.
“Now, they are more important than ever, as we teach our youth the values of stewardship and care that other generations have learned in their shadow.”
There was at least one idea how to drive the point home to federal leaders and convince them to vote for the proposed legislation.
“Let’s invite the president, the federal legislators, to come see for themselves, to participate in some of our cultural and traditional ceremonies,” Barraza said.
Steve Ramirez can be reached at (575) 541-5452. Also, follow Steve Ramirez on Twitter: @SteveRamirez6.
Our Land – Our Future
• Hispanic leaders throughout southern New Mexico are calling for federal government leaders to take action to protect the Organ Mountains, Robledo Mountains, Sierra de las Uvas, and Potrillo Mountains.
• Most of those lands are proposed for protection through the Doña Ana County Conservation and Protection Act.
• The proposed federal legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate in 2011.
• The Act would protect nearly 400,000 acres of public land in Do-a Ana County, by designating 271,050 acres as wilderness and creating a 109,600 acre National Conservation Area around the Organ and Doña Ana Mountains, and parts of Broad Canyon.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), created by Congress almost 50 years ago, was intended to reinvest a portion of public revenues from offshore oil and gas production in the protection of our most precious land resources.
In addition, our visionary leaders intended that the LWCF would provide recreational facilities and close-to-home outdoor opportunities for Americans in every state.
Unfortunately, fulfilling the promise has proven elusive.
The LWCF was supposed to receive $900 million per year – a drop in the bucket of offshore revenues that typically tally in the billions. The money intended to fund the LWCF is not taxpayer money; it consists of a portion of royalties paid to the federal treasury from oil and gas companies that profit from access to our waters offshore.
Yet Congress has shortchanged the LWCF nearly every year, diverting monies to other purposes. Full funding has been appropriated only once in the LWCF’s 46-year history.
In 2007, funding for the program sunk to a low of $138 million. Chronic shortages have resulted in a huge backlog of land and outdoor recreation protection projects across federal public lands and state and local parks.
The LWCF has been instrumental in the preservation or creation of a number of projects, to see some examples click here.
Given the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last summer, the vision behind the LWCF is more relevant now than ever. In a national bipartisan poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies in May, 85 percent of respondents viewed the LWCF as especially important in light of the oil spill.
The success and effectiveness of the LWCF is at a critical moment. The American’s Great Outdoors Initiative takes as its premise that lasting conservation solutions should rise from the American people.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate is considering legislation that could include full funding for this indispensable program. Our leaders have a chance now to finally fulfill the promise made in 1964, when the LWCF was created.
This past summer, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that included a provision to fully fund the LWCF. The U.S. Senate must act now to capture this opportunity to finally ensure that the LWCF receives its due.
A 20-year ban on uranium mining around the Grand Canyon and its watershed is expected to protect one million acres of federal land thanks to the Obama Administration and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar who signed the moratorium on Monday.
The Grand Canyon is an international icon. Protecting it from toxic uranium-mining pollution is a giant step in the right direction for environmental conservation in 2012.
The mining industry and a majority of Republican politicians in Arizona have opposed the ban. But at his announcement at the National Geographic Society in Washington, Salazar said signing the bill was a “serious and necessary step” to preserve the mile-deep canyon and the river that runs through it.
“Numerous American Indian tribes regard this magnificent icon as a sacred place and millions of people in the Colorado River Basin depend on the river for drinking water, irrigation, industrial and environmental use,” Salazar said. “A withdrawal is the right approach for this precious landscape.”
Here are the highlights of the announcement:
- 25 million people in four states depend on the Colorado River watershed, the river that runs through and around the Grand Canyon, for drinking and irrigation water.
- More than 4 million people from around the world visit the area each year, contributing $3.5 billion to the economy.
- The Interior Department said that as many as 11 uranium mines would be allowed to operate during the 20-year timeout on new claims.
- Without the moratorium, there could be 30 uranium mines in the area over the next 20 years, including four that are currently approved but not yet open, with as many as six operating at one time, the agency said.
- The Grand Canyon and Four Corners region still suffers the pollution legacy of past mining.
- American Indian tribes in the region — Havasupai, Hualapai, Kaibab-Paiute, Navajo and Hopi — have banned uranium mining on their lands.
- Water in Horn Creek, located in Grand Canyon National Park just below the old Orphan uranium mine, exhibits dissolved uranium concentrations more than 10 times the health-based standards established by the EPA for drinking water.
- Groundwater below old mines north of Grand Canyon has measured dissolved uranium more than 1,000 times allowable for drinking-water standards.
- Approximately 3,200 mining claims are currently located in the withdrawal area.
Critics of the ban maintain that Salazar’s decision will eliminate jobs in the mining industry during a time of hard economic growth. They say uranium mining has taken place in the area for years with minimal impact.
“The 20-year ban comes at the expense of hundreds of high-paying jobs and approximately $10 billion worth of activity for the Arizona economy,” said Republican Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, a critic of the ban.
But jobs in tourism and outdoor recreation far outweigh the potential loss of employment from limiting mining in the region, said Salazar.
“Today, with this announcement, Secretary Salazar and President Obama have listened to the American people – who submitted over 300,000 comments in favor of protecting the Grand Canyon – and made sure that Teddy Roosevelt’s vision for the Grand Canyon remains intact.”
Adapted from the following articles – Read to Learn More! :