WASHINGTON – In response to the Senate’s passage of its Lands Package, which includes the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, released the following statement:
“For many Latinos and other diverse urban communities, sites funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund often provide their only means to experience the outdoors. From having places to connect with nature, spend time with family, enjoy outdoor recreation or explore their cultural heritage, LWCF isn’t just about protecting pieces of land or providing specific resources for development, it’s about the connection we have with these places and what they represent for each individual.
“LWCF began more than 50 years ago as a bipartisan promise instrumental in creating, protecting and providing access to public lands not just for the Latino community, but also for everyone across the nation – and at no cost to taxpayers. Its funding has touched nearly every county in the country – you likely live mere minutes from a site supported by it.
“While the Lands Package isn’t perfect – it doesn’t dedicate full funding to LWCF – it’s still a positive step for conservation. Without LWCF, current and future protected lands and water sources would be left without the financial resources to remain protected. For local economies benefitting from a consistent influx of visitors, and local Latino workers and students, this would put their tourism industry’s stability at risk by opening parks, wildlife refuges, and forests for commercial development. LWCF will help make sure these treasures are available for future generations, as well as maintain the historical and cultural significance.
“We applaud the Senate for ensuring the future of LWCF and granting it permanent reauthorization. It’s now the House’s turn to fulfill the bipartisan promise that LWCF represents and approve the Senate’s Land Package.”
For over half a century, LWCF has served to protect America’s greatest treasures: From national parks of outstanding beauty such as the Grand Canyon and Grand Teton, to historic sites embodying our nation’s past such as the San Antonio Missions, the Gettysburg Battlefield and Monroe Elementary School in Kansas— the school attended by Linda Brown, of Brown v. Board of Education. LWCF has successfully safeguarded countless acres of natural resources, greatly enhanced access to public lands, preserved our historical legacy, and even supported local economies by boosting tourism. To this day, LWCF has helped protect more than 100 national battlefields in 42 states, supported over 42,000 parks and recreation projects across the country, in addition to protecting more than 2.2 million acres of national parks.
Hispanic Access explores the relationship Latino and diverse communities have with LWCF in the film Land, Water y Comunidad and through a whitepaper of the same name that profiles ten LWCF locations around the country and why the fund’s support matters.