Action on Public-Lands Bills Urged During Latino Conservation Week

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
The PUBLIC Lands Act would further protect many sensitive areas in California, including the San Gabriel Mountains outside of Los Angeles. Photo Credit: Flickr

SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS, Calif. — This week is the seventh annual Latino Conservation Week, and advocates for the environment are asking Congress to take action on several important bills.

The Protecting Unique and Beautiful Landscapes by Investing in California, or PUBLIC Lands Act, would add protections to public lands outside of Los Angeles, on the Central Coast and in the forests of northwest California. Christine Tamara, partnership engagement manager with Hispanic Access Foundation, said the San Gabriel Mountains in particular offer an important release for families who need a break from the asphalt jungle.

“Being in SoCal, not everybody can afford to go to Disneyland. But everybody can afford to visit their public lands,” Tamara said. “It is very cost-friendly for a large family to go and enjoy time together. And so having access to those public lands is super important for our community.”

A second bill, the Great American Outdoors Act is set for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. It would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and tackle a massive maintenance backlog at national parks.

Jose Gonzalez, founder of Latino Outdoors, said Latinx communities have long valued public lands.

“They are part of our cultural history,” Gonzalez said. “We have a connection to the land, and we can ensure that these continue to stay protected.”

Gonzalez noted access to nature is an important part of public health, wellness and recreation for urban populations especially during the pandemic when people tend to get isolated indoors.

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