Biden administration is urged to protect parks, lands and monuments with Latino roots
More than 10 heritage sites that need to be prioritized were identified.
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A new report from the Hispanic Access Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. which promotes and provides resources to boost the civic participation of Latinos, has pointed out the need to seek greater support to guarantee the preservation of different cultural and natural spaces associated with the history of Native Americans and Latinos.
According to the report, published by NBCNews, several of the parks, monuments, and even wildlife refuges that have ties to Latino history and culture need urgent intervention to prevent their disappearance and degradation.
“Many of the sites face threats from weathering of structures to development and gentrification that jeopardize the long-term future of each landmark,” the report stressed.
We are excited to release our “Special Places that Need Protection in the New Year” Toolkit! In the toolkit, we emphasize why @POTUS & Congress need to designate & protect new landmarks across the US. Read it here: https://t.co/UsawPfBOLu #MonumentsforAll pic.twitter.com/pZbvzNOqCZ— Hispanic Access Foundation (@HispanicAccess) December 13, 2022
The study also notes: “Currently, less than a quarter of national parks have a primary purpose of documenting historically underrepresented communities, according to the Hispanic Access Foundation report, and less than 8% of historical landmarks represent stories of Latinos and other underrepresented groups.”
The Hispanic Access Foundation has identified 12 Latino heritage sites that should be prioritized for protection next year.
Among the places included, the following stand out:
- César E. Chávez National Monument — Its expansion is scheduled to become part of the César Chávez National Historical Park and the Peasant Movement. The proposed new park, contained in legislation currently under review in Congress, would include the existing César E. Chavez National Monument in Keene, California; The Forty Acres in Delano, also in California; and the Santa Rita Center in Phoenix, Arizona, areas that are part of the farmworker movement that led to the formation of the United Farm Workers. The proposed national park is important, according to the report, so that U.S. Latino farmworkers can see their history reflected in the national narrative.
- San Diego Friendship Park — Located on the U.S.-Mexico border, it has served for decades as a gathering area for cross-border families and for the general public to enjoy a picturesque waterfront area. But now it is at risk because of a proposed border wall, which the report said would also threaten wildlife in the area and make it difficult to access the surrounding Border Fields State Park and Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve.
- Chumash Sanctuary — It helps preserve unique coastal ecosystems and thousands of years of indigenous cultural heritage. Preserving this historic landmark would help stop the threat of offshore oil expansion and provide funding for local marine research, according to the Hispanic Access Foundation report. To escape genocide during the colonization years, many Chumash and other people of indigenous descent came to be identified as Mexican and Spanish.
- Binational Park in Texas — Proposed along the Rio Grande River, known as the Rio Bravo in Mexico, it would cover more than 6 miles and 1,000 acres of land to help restore the river's ecosystem, provide outdoor recreational opportunities, and celebrate the heritage of “los dos Laredos,” which refers to the city of Laredo and its sister city Nuevo Laredo across the U.S.-Mexico border. They were once a single city before the international border separated them. This region of southeast Texas is described in the report as a Nature Gap hotspot, because it is an area where nature is being destroyed.
“For these reasons, in the new year Hispanic Access Foundation is asking President Biden and Congress to designate and protect new parks, waterways and coastal areas throughout the U.S. that will serve Latino and other disinvested communities,” said Shanna Edberg, director of conservation at Hispanic Access Foundation.
The Hispanic Access Foundation's report comes after President Biden moved to designate Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument in October, and was committed to designating Nevada's Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument.