May 29, 2024

IE COMMUNITY NEWS

El Chicano, Colton Courier, Rialto Record

Seventh Annual Latino Conservation Week kicks off, breaks down barriers to outdoors

3 min read

Communities throughout the country will enjoy and connect with the great outdoors during the 7th annual Latino Conservation Week, which began July 18 and runs through July 26. While this year will lean more toward virtual activities like online expeditions, roundtable discussions, Q&A sessions, scavenger hunts, film screenings and the like, nearly 100 events are being celebrated nationwide.

“Latino communities are passionate about the outdoors and hold a strong belief that we have a moral obligation to be good stewards,” said Maite Arce, President and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, which launched LCW in 2014. “Latino Conservation Week helps break down barriers for Latino communities to access public lands and waters, encourages new opportunities for engagement and inspires the next generation of environmental stewards.” 

Latinos are the largest minority group in America, with over 52 million people making up 16.7 percent of the nation’s population and are projected to become nearly one-third of the population by 2050. By 2020, half of all youth in America will be of color and by 2043, a majority of our country’s residents will be people of color. Yet a 2018 Outdoor Industry Association report found that only 10 percent of Latinos were engaged in outdoor recreation activities. In simple terms, the future of public lands depends on engaging and welcoming our diverse youth and Latino communities that already deeply care about our environment and feel a moral obligation to take care of it.

“At a time when Latinos are disproportionately suffering from COVID-19, we need nature and the benefits it provides, now more than ever,” said Shanna Edberg, Hispanic Access Foundation’s director of conservation programs. “While the pandemic revealed and exacerbated deep inequities in access to green space, Latino Conservation Week events — from the virtual conversations and activities to on-the-ground hikes, birdwatching, picnics and neighborhood cleanups — are bringing this issue to the forefront and helping to bridge that gap.”

This year the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Wildlife Refuge System are joining forces with Hispanic Access Foundation’s MANO Project to provide programming virtually and at sites throughout the nation. More than 200 parks, organizations and community groups have joined Latino Conservation Week as partners and sponsors. Event partners include Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Corazon Latino, Denver Aquarium, Defenders of Wildlife, Frontera Land Alliance, HECHO, Inland Empire Resource Conservation District, LA Nature for All, Latino Heritage Internship Program, Latino Outdoors, National Parks Conservation Association, The Nature Conservancy, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Wilderness Workshop, and numerous Audubon Society chapters.

Additionally, those joining in person events are encouraged to follow the principles presented in the #RecreateResponsibly campaign. These include 1) Know before you go; 2) Plan ahead; 3) Explore locally; 4) Practice physical distancing; 5) Play it safe; 6) Leave no trace; and 7) Build an inclusive outdoors. For more details on this initiative, visit https://www.recreateresponsibly.org

The activities span several states and a full listing of events is available at www.LatinoConservationWeek.com. Celebrate online by following #LatinoConservationWeek and #LCW2020 on social media.

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