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Our country’s steadfast efforts to protect the environment this year finally paid off last Saturday when Congress granted $322.9 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to protect lands and jobs in 2012. This is a $20 million increase from last year’s budget and reflects the widespread support for the fund.
In 2011, Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) worked with Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) and other organizations to push for more funding for LWCF. HAF learned that 95 percent of Latinos supported full funding for LWCF and that 9 in 10 Americans wanted Congress to stop siphoning funds for the program.
“Hispanics are passionate about their public parks and open spaces,” said Maite Arce, HAF’s executive director. “Parks are often the center of family activities, gatherings, and even their careers. As such, their protection ranks high on Hispanics’ priority list.”
Outdoor recreation, conservation and historic preservation contribute $1.06 trillion annually to the U.S. economy and support 9.4 million American jobs, which equates to one out of every 15 U.S. jobs, according to the LWCF Coalition.
LWCF is an important tool for protecting the nation’s parks, wildlife refuges and recreational areas. It uses a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas leases instead of taxpayers’ money to protect parks and open spaces across the country.
The fund is also important because it encourages Americans to get outdoors by protecting federal lands and waters, wildlife habitat, and close-to-home parks, said Frank Hugelmeyer, Outdoor Industry Association’s president & CEO.
In July 2011, HAF partnered with ELK to hold a free day of trout fishing and lessons in aquatic ecology and conservation at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Denver where more than 250 Denver Latinos took part.
In 2011, 95 percent of Latinos supported full funding for LWCF.
HAF collaborated with ELK again in August to hold a round table discussion with 50 Latino youth and their families at the Rocky Mountain National Park. There, the organization discussed ways youth and their families could further engage in enjoying and advocating for parks, wildlife habitat and the outdoors.
And in October, representatives from HAF personally delivered letters from Colorado Latinos to the White House asking President Barack Obama to oppose proposed cuts to LWCF in the fall.
After a year of hard work, HAF is seeing its efforts come to fruition. But, it will be up to the community to continue to fight for LWCF funding.
“Despite this strong show of support in the 2012 budget bill, the Land and Water Conservation Fund continues to be funded well below the $900 million that is deposited each year into the trust fund from offshore oil and gas royalties,” said William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society.
“President Obama’s budget recommended full funding for LWCF at that $900 million level, and we urge Congress to work toward that goal in fiscal year 2013 and beyond.”
Read the LWCF Coalition’s press release to learn more.
Stay tuned for ways to get involved in HAF’s efforts for environmental change in 2012!
Housing Environments and Child Health Conditions among Recent Mexican Immigrant Families: A Population-Based Study
In a new study by the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, researchers found that children of immigrant parents are more likely to be exposed to environmental risk factor leading to asthma and atopy- an allergic hypersensitivity reaction.
The authors used community health workers to conduct 250 household surveys of recently immigrated Mexican families including 574 children. Households consisted of at least one foreign born parent, used Spanish as the primary language, and had at least one child. Data collection was done between November 2005 and August 2007, during which time community health workers conducted Spanish surveys and obtained blood lead samples, while inspectors analyzed household conditions and took environmental samples. The authors found that over 35% of homes were overcrowded and 54% of households had incomes of less than $20,000 a year. Adequate ventilation was found in only 28% of homes while mold and pests were found in 44% and 28% of homes respectively. When the authors performed an exploratory analysis to find the relationship between housing conditions and symptoms of asthma and atopy, they found that the prevalence of wheezing symptoms increased with decreased ventilation. Atopy symptoms were noted in 15.5% of children living in homes with minimal to no ventilation. Household pests also contributed to children’s health as wheezing symptoms were more evident (8.1%) among children living in households with pests than children living in households without pests (2.3%).
The authors noted that children of recent immigrants may be less likely to access medical care and go undiagnosed. Authors suggested that solutions include household-level improvements and access to health care by partnering with public health organizations and clinics to raise awareness of housing and child health needs.
SOURCE: Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey Cost & Use Files, 2006.
HAF helps communities to integrate “green thinking” into their homes, workplaces, and local environments. Poverty and other factors marginalize Hispanics in this country, and as a result, Hispanics are disproportionately affected by changes in energy costs, rising food prices and other impacts of climate change.
Hispanics’ quality of life is being negatively affected by pollution. Poor air quality is disproportionately harming Hispanics.
According the American Lung Association, Hispanic-American children have a higher rate of asthma than Caucasian children. In the Northeastern United States, Hispanics have an asthma death rate more than twice the rate of Caucasians.
HAF’s beneficiaries from around the country have called in to express their interest around the following environmental issues:
- clean water
- reducing waste/ proper waste disposal
- cleaner transportation options
- green construction
- energy savings
- healthy food production and consumption
- and green jobs that grow out of the demand for all of the above.
HAF increases Hispanics’ access to information, natural resources, environmental benefits, participation in decision making, and access to justice in cases of environmental injustices.
The results are in a study of 249 children of New York City women who wore backpack air monitors for 48 hours during the last few months of pregnancy. They lived in mostly low-income neighborhoods in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. They had varying levels of exposure to typical kinds of urban air pollution, mostly from car, bus and truck exhaust.
At age 5, before starting school, the children were given IQ tests. Those exposed to the most pollution before birth scored on average four to five points lower than children with less exposure.
That’s a big enough difference that it could affect children’s performance in school, said Frederica Perera, the study’s lead author and director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health.
It suggests that you don’t have to live right next door to a belching factory to face pollution health risks, and that there may be more dangers from typical urban air pollution than previously thought, he said.
“We are learning more and more about low-dose exposure and how things we take for granted may not be a free ride,” he said.
While future research is needed to confirm the new results, the findings suggest exposure to air pollution before birth could have the same harmful effects on the developing brain as exposure to lead, said Patrick Breysse, an environmental health specialist at Johns Hopkins’ school of public health.
And along with other environmental harms and disadvantages low-income children are exposed to, it could help explain why they often do worse academically than children from wealthier families, Breysse said.
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“It’s a profound observation,” he said. “This paper is going to open a lot of eyes.”
The study was released in the August edition of Pediatrics.
Author: Lindsay Tanner
Source: Associated Press
Launch the photo essay featuring the Chihuahuan Desert!
In the heart of North America’s largest desert lies a biological oasis—a little-known expanse of basin and range straddling both sides of the boundary between the United States and Mexico. The Chihuahuan Desert Borderlands, as it is called, is a sparsely populated 30- million-acre wilderness where barren lunarscapes, arid scrublands and cactus forests coexist with majestic canyons, lush grasslands and pine-oak woodlands.
To the abundant populations of year-round and migrating wildlife, the borderlands is a land without borders, a single ecosystem that rivals Greater Yellowstone in its biodiversity. Hundreds of species use the borderlands as a migratory megacorridor, including monarch butterflies, black bear and more than 10 species of hummingbirds. Populations of elk, pronghorn and desert bighorn sheep flourish as well.
Hovering several thousand feet above are sky islands—desert mountains whose peaks snag clouds and drain their moisture. These mountains nourish the region’s relict forests of oak and pine trees and isolated stands of Douglas fir and quaking aspen. This rich habitat is one reason why more than 400 bird species have been seen in the 800,000-acre Big Bend National Park—more than in any other national park in the United States.
The borderlands are the linchpin of one of North America’s most vital wildlife corridors. And yet the region is also the focus of plans that would fashion a barrier along the border, although it is difficult to imagine a more effective deterrent than the canyon walls that rise as high as 2,000 feet above the river.
While most of the discussion about fences has centered on urban areas, concern is being voiced about the potential impact barriers in more remote areas would have on wildlife. “The specter of any kind of barrier that would preclude the movements of native and migratory wildlife back and forth between the United States and Mexico causes us a great deal of consternation,” says Carter Smith, director of the Conservancy’s Texas chapter. Other, more conservation-friendly tactics should be considered in the Chihuahuan Borderlands, he says, such as vehicle barriers, surveillance technologies, and stepped-up border and aerial patrols.
Whatever the outcome, the Conservancy and partners plan to press ahead. “The borderlands is one landscape, irrespective of political boundaries,” says Smith. “We are participating in an extensive binational conservation effort.” Private land owners, agricultural cooperatives, corporations, governments and conservation groups have banded together to place more than 2 million acres on both sides of the border under some kind of protection. And more land is being added every year. Through their efforts, the borderlands remains one of the continent’s wildest places.
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Aurhor: Joe Nick Patoski