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Celebrating 10 Years of Latino Conservation Week: Connecting with Madre Tierra & Expanding Equitable Access to the Outdoors

Jul 21, 2023

This week, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and Chispa joined Latinx communities across the country to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Latino Conservation Week. Since launching, the Hispanic Access Foundation initiative has uplifted the integral connection of Latinx comunidades and Madre Tierra and ongoing work to ensure equitable access to healthy outdoor spaces for all.

From July 15 to 23, community, nonprofit, religious, and governmental organizations host outdoor and educational events across the country. These activities support local conservation efforts and the long-term preservation of our land, water, and air.

Chispa, the Latinx power-building program within LCV, and their state affiliates joined in on the action. Chispa AZ, Protégete CO, Chispa MD, Chispa NV, and Chispa TX planned and participated in events to promote environmental stewardship, uplift conservation efforts, and connect as a Latinx community in the natural beauty of the outdoors.

The importance of Latino Conservation Week could not be more relevant as deadly heat waves, extensive flooding, wildfire smoke, and increasing costs and energy bills plague households and disproportionately burden Latinx communities and communities of color. Now more than ever, we need policies that protect outdoor spaces, promote healthy air and water, and ensure all communities have access to a healthy, livable outdoors.

To highlight these issues, LCV and Chispa hosted a Twitter Q&A in collaboration with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) to celebrate and learn from CHC Chair Nanette Barragán and other members of the caucus, including Senators Alex Padilla and Robert Menendez, and Representatives Juan Vargas, Jimmy Gomez, Salud Carbajal, Andrea Salinas, Gabe Vasquez, Maxwell Frost, Sylvia Garcia,  Raul Ruiz, and Raúl Grijalva. The Chispa team asked questions that reflect their shared concerns for our planet and communities, and the CHC members responded, discussing their efforts to confront the climate crisis, protect public lands, and improve equitable access to a healthy outdoors.

Read the answers to their questions below:

1). This year, we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Latino Conservation Week to uplift Latinx communities’ long standing conservation leadership to expand equitable access to the outdoors. How do you celebrate and why is this week important to you and the communities you represent?

 

“Growing up in Harbor Gateway, I’ve experienced firsthand the lack of access to green spaces. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this week than to reintroduce the #LatinoConservationWeek Resolution to recognize the needs of frontline communities like mine.” – Chair Barragán 

“I’m celebrating #LCW2023 in honor of the farmworkers who help put food on our tables every day. My dad was a farmworker. So I know that protecting our planet is critical—not only for future generations, but for the people who depend on the land for their lives & livelihoods.” – Rep. Salinas

“This #LCW2023 is an opportunity for us to celebrate the Latino community’s deep commitment to conservation efforts as we put climate change at the forefront of our work. We must do everything we can to tackle this existential threat head on.” – Sen. Menendez

“Growing up in California gave me a deep appreciation for our public lands. I’ll never forget those family trips growing up, and the ones since with my three boys to pass on that respect. #LatinoConservationWeek, reminds us that everyone deserves access to these spaces.” – Sen. Padilla

“As the home to some of the most beautiful landscapes this planet has to offer, Latino Conservation Week is so meaningful to the Central Coast. I’m proud to represent a community with a rich history in climate action and I will continue to defend equitable access to the outdoors.” – Rep. Carbajal

“Latinos’ contributions to the outdoor economy are priceless. The reality is that our community often faces unequal access to parks & nature, negatively impacting physical and mental health. This week reminds us that we must expand access so everyone can enjoy the outdoors.” – Rep. Gomez

“I’ll be celebrating Latino Conservation Week by introducing a bill to protect our environment, American consumers, and fair labor standards across America. Stay tuned!” – Rep. Vargas

“I celebrate Latino Conservation Week by uplifting my Latino community by promoting cultural heritage and sustainable practices.” – Rep. Sylvia Garcia

2). Chispa Texas: We are facing a climate crisis with more extreme weather events like record heat waves and flooding. What work are you doing to address this crisis and ensure our communities can enjoy access to a safe and healthy environment? 

 


“Almost a year later, I am proud of my vote to help pass the Inflation Reduction Act. This historic piece of legislation is already helping us create clean energy jobs and secure a future where all Americans can enjoy access to a safe and healthy environment.” – Sen. Menendez

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law I helped craft and pass has helped fund environmentally responsible and climate resilient projects like: 🚌 no and low emission buses, 🌊protections for proposed marine sanctuaries, 🌱remediating abandoned oil wells & more!” – Rep. Carbajal

“Folks in the Willamette Valley know this all too well. That’s why I’m championing several bills to help make our communities more resilient to the changing climate—from preventing wildfires to ensuring farmers can recover from extreme weather. #LCW2023” – Rep. Salinas

“Last year we passed the Inflation Reduction Act, the BIGGEST federal investment to fight the climate crisis, which included my bills to provide tax credits for used electric vehicles and for home energy efficiency projects. But that was only the start.” – Rep. Gomez

“Our communities need greater energy resilience & more green spaces. I have authored the Energy Resilient Communities Act & Outdoors for All Act to help keep the lights on during extreme weather & provide urban parks to reduce the impacts of climate change.” – Chair Barragán 

“I’m pushing for federal funding for more clean air monitors in Houston. When we invest in air quality monitoring, educate our communities, and prioritize sustainable solutions, our community can begin to take steps toward a clean and healthy place to live for everyone.” – Rep. Sylvia Garcia

“Everyday, we continue to hear about rising temperatures & continued effects of climate change. That’s why I’m championing the #ESG movement to help American families (if they would like) invest in companies that better protect our environment. This starts with ESG disclosures!” – Rep. Vargas

“We recently introduced the SAFE Through Medicare Act to help protect our seniors and disabled folks on Medicare during a climate disaster. We’re creating a disaster-ready healthcare system that can weather any storm that comes our way.” – Rep. Frost

3). Chispa Arizona: As historic climate investments in the IRA are implemented, how can Congress work with @POTUS to advance a just, clean energy future & protect sacred lands like Oak Flat from extractive uses? 

 

“We can’t sacrifice our most treasured public lands. I am a proud cosponsor of @RepRaulGrijalva’s Save Oak Flat from Foreign Mining Act. Our mining laws are 100+ years old. Congress must update them to responsibly source critical minerals & improve recycling for these minerals.” – Chair Barragán 

“The IRA represents the biggest climate action ever taken by the U.S. As the @WhiteHouse continues its implementation, we must make sure these federal dollars reach all communities, particularly underserved communities & those displaced by the renewable energy transition.” – Sen. Menendez

“Congress has made historic climate investments through the IRA ––but there is more work to be done. A great place to start is by passing my bills, the PUBLIC Lands Act, Berryessa Snow Mountain Expansion Act and the Outdoors for All Act to protect sacred land and our environment.” – Sen. Padilla

“The Inflation Reduction Act is the single largest investment in climate action in American history! But, you’re right, the work cannot stop there. That’s why I’m working w/ @SenFeinstein & @SenAlexPadilla to designate the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.” – Rep. Carbajal

“I cosponsored a bill to permanently protect Oak Flat and the religious & human rights of tribal communities. A green future will only be successful if it’s based on environmental justice. We have to continue an ongoing dialogue with the admin to ensure these lands are protected.” – Rep. Gomez

“It’s critical that we continue investing in clean, renewable energy resources — and I thank @potus for his work on this. I’m fighting for Americans by championing #ESG so consumers have a better understanding of which private companies have sound environmental practices.” – Rep. Vargas

4). Chispa Nevada: ¿Qué harán para proteger MÁS tierras para que se conviertan en monumentos nacionales o en áreas preservadas y que no sean ocupadas por industrias contaminantes? ¿Cómo trabajarán para resguardar la flor, la fauna, y nuestros espacios abiertos? (What will you do to protect MORE lands so that they become national monuments or other preserved areas and are not occupied by polluting industries? How will you work to protect flora, fauna, and our open spaces?)

 

“Hace un mes le pedí a Biden que expandiera el Monumento Nacional de las Montañas de San Gabriel por 110,000 hectáreas. También llame al @EPA y al @TheJusticeDept a responsabilizar las corporaciones que han contaminado nuestro medio ambiente y dañando nuestras comunidades.” – Sen. Padilla

“No podemos parar ahora. @HouseDemocrats estableció la base al aprobar una ley de conservación medioambiental pública agregando más de 191 mil acres al Área Recreativa Nacional de las Montañas de Santa Mónica y 30 mil acres en las Montañas de San Gabriel.” – Rep. Gomez

“From the Save America’s Red Rocks Wilderness Act to the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, I will continue to support legislation that protects public lands and ensure that polluting industries never take advantage of these areas.” – Sen. Menendez

“This year, I introduced the Central Coast Heritage Act to protect land in @LosPadresNF & designate local creeks & rivers as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. This bill will protect Central Coast flora & fauna, & maintain indigenous access to wilderness areas.” – Rep. Carbajal

5). With Protegete Colorado: States like Colorado are overdependent on tax revenues from fossil fuel industries, while Latinx communities shoulder the burden of its impacts and pollution. How can our economic needs be met while ensuring we have healthy communities? 

 

“We need to build on our investments in the Inflation Reduction Act to support clean energy industries & union jobs. I’ve worked on this in my own district with the Climate Smart Ports Act, which will transition ports to zero-emission & reduce pollution in port communities.” – Chair Barragán 

“A strong economy and clean energy investments go hand-in-hand. The historic investments we make in climate action will produce good-paying, green jobs across the country and lower energy costs for working families.” – Sen. Padilla

“We need to hold the fossil fuel industries accountable for their destruction of the quality of life for many Americans, but especially in the Latino community and other communities of color who are disproportionately impacted by pollution and its impact on public health.” – Sen. Menendez

“The Inflation Reduction Act includes provisions that will create millions of jobs across the country in the clean energy economy! Businesses who use climate-friendly practices will also be eligible for tax credits for their commitment to lowering carbon emissions.” – Rep. Carbajal

6). With Chispa Maryland: What is the best way for promotoras and community members to advocate for conservation, improved air quality and clean transportation, environmental justice, and equitable access to the outdoors?

 

“Organize in your community, vote, and run for office. We must keep pressure on lawmakers at every level to prioritize equitable climate & environmental policies. It takes everyone’s voice to help stop the #ClimateCrisis.” – Chair Barragán 

“Promotoras and community members can raise awareness about environmental issues by organizing educational workshops, community forums, and awareness campaigns.” – Rep. Sylvia Garcia

“The best way for folks to advocate for conservation is by staying engaged, holding their elected leaders accountable, and making sure that they are registered to vote!” – Sen. Padilla

“The best way to advocate for these issues is to get youth involved! That’s why I created the nation’s first Outdoor Equity Fund with NM Rep. Angelica Rubio, a program that is getting more young people outdoors all across NM.” – Rep. Vasquez

“We’re making historic progress nationwide at all levels of government & that’s because YOUR voices are being heard. Keep reaching out to your elected officials & supporting leaders who understand that combating the climate crisis needs to be in the forefront of everything we do.” – Rep. Gomez

“How you can do your part for environment:🌳Volunteer w/ local organizations & initiatives♻️Live what you advocate & promote climate-friendly practices like taking public transportation & recycling💚 Share your ideas w/ me by contacting my DC or District offices!” – Rep. Carbajal

“As a former city councilman & state legislator, I’ve spent my life working with my community. Staying connected with community leaders & supporting local businesses that provide sustainability is key to conservation advocacy. Policies like #ESG benefit the American public.” – Rep. Vargas