NHLA Letter on the Centennial of the National Park Service

June 1, 2016

The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

On behalf of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), we write to respectfully request that you issue a Presidential Memorandum on August 25, 2016, the Centennial of the National Park Service, to:

  • encourage federal land management agencies to reflect the diverse racial, ethnicand other demographic characteristics of our nation’s citizens in theirworkforce, programs, and services;
  • respect the historical, cultural and spiritual stories and unique contributions of all Americans especially in conservation efforts; and
  • actively engage all people, including by making sure all families are deliberately and thoughtfully included in programs designed to increase their participation and enjoyment of our parks and public lands, which are part of our shared national heritage.

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda is a coalition of 40 of the nation’s most prominent Latino organizations. Collectively, the NHLA leads the advocacy behind the pressing civil rights and policy issues impacting the 58 million Latinos living in the United States.

Our request reflects NHLA’s policy priorities as well as participation in an unprecedented effort to increase inclusion and representation of America’s communities of color in our national parks and other public lands, and in the agencies charged with maintaining our nation’s natural resources for future generations. Recently, NHLA adopted its 2016 Public Policy Agenda, which includes Energy and the Environment among its priorities for the first time in its history. Our conservation policy priorities include creating an inclusive system of national parks and monuments with which Latinos can identify, establishing support for programs to recruit and train a new cadre of Latino conservation leaders, and ensuring the creation of more places, such as national monuments, that tell the history of Latinos, and conservation of cultural, historic and natural resources important to Latinos.

By 2020, half of all youth in America will be people of color. The Census Bureau predicts that by 2043, a majority of our country’s residents will be people of color. Yet, throughout history our public lands have not always been reflective of our country’s diversity or welcoming to all Americans.

As the US National Park Service celebrates its centennial this summer, we support an inclusive vision for the next century that focuses on the importance of public lands -- including national parks, forests, and monuments -- for all Americans, including communities of color.

We thank you for your leadership and stewardship of our public lands over the past 8 years. We now encourage you to build on this legacy and support an inclusive new vision for our public lands by issuing a Presidential Memorandum that emphasizes the need for the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to adopt guiding priorities for a more inclusive approach to conservation and use of our public lands that reflects the faces of our country; respect for different cultures, histories & approaches; and a responsibility to actively engage all people.

Sincerely,

Hector E. Sanchez
Chair, National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA)
Executive Director, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)

José Calderón
Co-Chair, NHLA's Energy and Environment Committee
President, Hispanic Federation

Bruce Goldstein
Co-Chair, NHLA's Energy and Environment Committee
President, Farmworker Justice

cc:
Sally Jewell, Secretary, Department of the Interior
Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director, National Park Service
Neil Kornze, Director, Bureau of Land Management

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