FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
20 July 2022
Contact: Kevin McGuire, 202-538-2386 (mobile)
Washington D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44) introduced a resolution with 10 of her House colleagues that would support the designation of the third week in July as “Latino Conservation Week”. The week will recognize the importance of the Latino community’s contributions to the outdoor economy and outdoor recreation.
The resolution also raises concerns about the unequal access to urban parks and nature that Latino communities often experience and the implications that has for public health and the environment. For example, Latino children are twice as likely to die from asthma attacks due to the high levels of air pollution they are exposed to in their communities. The proximity of natural spaces to Latino communities can help mitigate air pollution and extreme heat that exacerbates the pollution.
“As our climate crisis worsens, it is critical we recognize the unequal access to parks and nature that Latino communities often experience,” said Rep. Barragán. “In my district for example, children share their backyards with oil wells and idling trucks that threaten our public health. Urban parks and green spaces can help cool neighborhoods, clean our water, and reduce air pollution. This resolution will build on our work to reduce pollution in low-income communities and communities of color, close the nature equity gap among Latinos, and create beautiful green spaces for all to enjoy.”
The members cosponsoring the Latino Conservation Week Resolution are: Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Rep. Michael San Nicolas (Guam-At Large), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Rep. Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Rep. Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Rep. Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Rep. Raul Ruiz (CA-36), and Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-03).
The resolution is supported by the Hispanic Access Foundation, Latino Outdoors, Environmental Defense Fund, Azul, Green Latinos, Corazon Latino, Sachamama, Chispa League of Conservation Voters, League of Conservation Voters, and Moms Clean Air Force Initiative.
Latino communities continue to prove they 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. “We thank Congresswoman Barragán for introducing this resolution to establish the third week in July as Latino Conservation Week, which would support its goal of breaking down barriers for Latino communities to access public lands and waters, encouraging new opportunities for engagement and inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards. It’s exciting to see the growth of Latino Conservation Week and we look forward to seeing the resolution be established.”
“It’s difficult to overstate just how much Latino Conservation Week means to everyone at Latino Outdoors,” said Luis Villa, Executive Director of Latino Outdoors. “Launched in 2014 by our close friends and kindred spirits at Hispanic Access Foundation, this annual celebration has been instrumental in our efforts to visiblize and galvanize Latina/o/e leadership in conservation, outdoor recreation, and environmental education. It’s been an honor to be a part of Latino Conservation Week from day one. ¡Que siga la celebración por muchos años más!”
“The Latino community in an integral part of the American fabric,” said Esther Sosa, Project Manager, Diverse Partners of Environmental Defense Fund. “That’s why Environmental Defense Fund works to stabilize the climate. By doing so, we seek to protect Latino communities so they may thrive for generations to come.”
“We often overlook that Latinos are people with indigenous roots, so we have inherited many traditions, precepts and cultural influences that are based in loving Madre Tierra and conserving our natural environment,” said Felipe Benitez, Executive Director of Corazon Latino. “We believe that if we protect Madre Tierra, she will also provide for us. Despite our strong admiration and care for our land, water, and air, our communities suffer from having to work and live in unhealthy, polluted environments. We hope that this resolution brings attention to our commitment to defending Mother Earth, and catapults action to establish environmental justice that is so badly needed for Latinos across the country.”
“We are excited to support this resolution to finally see the third week of July officially recognized as ‘Latino Conservation Week’ by Congress as the celebration and call to action that it has been for years,” said Benjamin Alexandro, Senior Government Affairs Advocate at League of Conservation Voters. “The activity and engagement from people all over our nation to enjoy, advocate for, and conserve our great outdoors, wonderful public lands and waters, and precious natural spaces led by the Latino community is nothing short of inspirational. This designation by Congress will send a crucial message affirming the federal government’s commitment to continue to break down barriers in equitable access to the outdoors and to recognizing the importance of the Latinos community’s engagement and leadership in conservation. We thank Congresswoman Barragán for her leadership in putting forward this resolution.”
Latinos play an important role as stewards of our land, water and air as it is naturally a part of our culture,” said Carolina Peña-Alarcón, Program Manager of EcoMadres, Moms Clean Air Force Initiative. “We understand how having access to a clean, safe environment is important for the health and well-being of our families. However, clean water, soil and air are not equally distributed and climate change is making those inequities worse. Latino children are 60% more at risk than their white counterparts of having asthma attacks exacerbated by air pollution. During Latino Conservation Week and every week, EcoMadres encourages the Latino community to raise awareness about how important it is to protect our natural resources so children can enjoy the great outdoors for years to come. EcoMadres supports the resolution to designate the third week of July as Latino Conservation Week.”
“Latinx communities understand the importance and benefits of our public lands system and the critical need to protect it. At Hispanic Federation we support policies to protect public lands, develop Latino conservation leadership, and protect and share Latino history in national monuments and protected areas. We must work together to ensure that Latinx people – the second largest population group in the country – have access to recreational and economic opportunities, as well as see themselves represented in the histories and places protected on our public lands,” said Laura M. Esquivel, Vice President for Federal Policy, Hispanic Federation. “We are determined to ensure the health and well-being of Latinx communities across the nation. To do that we must understand the longstanding environmental inequities experienced by these communities, the impacts on their health, and promote policies that elevate and center environmental justice for all communities. That is why we support the awareness raised by Latino Conservation Week and applaud Rep. Barragán’s leadership in having the third week of July declared “Latino Conservation Week.”
“A legacy of systemic oppression and white supremacy has tried to sever the connection between people of color and the land,” said Alejandra Ramirez-Zarate, National Director of Policy and Advocacy at Chispa League of Conservation Voters. “As historical stewards of our ancestors’ lands, we have never been more intentionally excluded from the outdoors, and people of color continue to be excluded from the U.S. conservation movement. We thank Congresswoman Barragán for putting forward this resolution, and we look forward to realizing our vision of a safe and healthy environment where our communities can thrive. We will continue to organize our Latinx communities to connect them with the outdoors, provide resources, remove barriers, and create systems change to dismantle the status quo.”
Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington. She serves as chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Security, and on the House Energy and Commerce Health, Energy, and Environment & Climate Change Subcommittees.