LAS VEGAS SUN: Latino Outreach Group Urges Congress to Preserve Funding Source for Nevada Parks

By: Camalot Todd

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which will expire Sept. 30 unless Congress renews it, is responsible for funding more than 300 projects in Nevada including Valley of Fire, Lake Tahoe, Floyd Lamb State Park, Spring Mountain Ranch and more.

The federal grant program uses funds from the federal treasury and royalties paid for offshore oil and gas leases for projects that promote outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation.

The Hispanic Access Foundation last week hosted an event at the Springs Preserve, which is also partially funded by the program, where leaders in the community discussed the importance of public lands to the Latino community.

“It’s safe to say that the fund itself has benefited every single congressional district in the country,” said panelist Chela Garcia, director of conservation programs at the Hispanic Access Foundation. “Oftentimes the parks and projects supported by the Land and Water Conservation Fund provide some of the only or most accessible access to the outdoors for Latino and urban communities where distance or cost may prevent their use of other types of parks such as national parks.”

Garcia also said that the money raised for the bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Fund comes from investment earnings using no taxpayer dollars. The fund has invested more than $102 million to protect Nevada’s wildlife, natural habitats while increasing recreation access for the community including Lake Mead which received nearly $5 million in funding.

In addition to Nevada, more than 41,000 federal, state and local parks have been supported through the fund in its 52 years of operation.

“When it was passed in 1964 — with bipartisan support — it was to fulfill the promise to safeguard our natural areas, water resources, cultural heritage and provide outdoor recreation for all Americans,” Garcia said.

The event also previewed the Hispanic Access Foundation’s film “Land, Water y Comunidad,” in which the Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is featured.

Juan Almanza, a pastor of Centro de Adoracion Familiar, called the park an “oasis in the desert” when explaining its significance to the community. The film will be released on Sept. 3.

Garcia and the other panelists encourage the public to call their representatives for a permanent renewal of the fund.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund supports places where we can connect with nature, spend time with family, enjoy outdoor recreation and explore our cultural heritage,” she said.

To learn more or watch the film including Nevada’s segment, visit www.hispanicaccess.org.

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