The 4th annual Latino Conservation Week will be held July 15 - July 23, 2016. The week is an opportunity for Latinos to demonstrate their passion for enjoying and protecting public lands.
In 2016, over 100 events were held from New York to California (compared to 52 in 2015).
Event submissions for 2017 are now being accepted. For more information, contact Hispanic Access Foundation at (202) 640-4342 or you can submit your organization's events here.
By Janelly Corona, Latino Heritage Intern
BOULDER CITY, Nevada – Park rangers at Lake Mead National Recreation Area held a tamarisk clean-up event July 22 in celebration of Latino Conservation Week.
This was Lake Mead’s second year participating in Latino Conservation Week. Last year volunteers participated in a seed cleaning project at the park to help support Lake Mead’s native plant nursery. Latino Conservation Week started in 2014, and it has grown larger each year since.
This year in honor of The National Park Service centennial celebration, Hispanic Access Foundation made it a goal to host 100 events and surpassed it by hosting a total of 109 events throughout the week.
Lake Mead’s Latino Conservation Week tamarisk clean-up event began with a rafting trip from the base of the Hoover Dam and the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge down the Colorado River. A total of 25 volunteers from Centro de Adoración Familiar and Sierra Club in Las Vegas participated in the trip.
The event consisted of a guided raft tour down the Black National Water Trail on Lake Mohave and tamarisk cleanup as part of ongoing efforts to control the non-native species of plant in the area. The entire group took a hike down Black Canyon Spring and pulled tamarisk sprouts along the way.
The effort of conserving and protecting public lands and removing tamarisk is important as it is a non-native invasive plant that consumes a lot of water and prevents native plants from growing in the park.
“It amazed me to see the immense influence we as a species have on the area’s environment, from changing the whole face of the valley with an astonishing structure like the Hoover Dam, to the small but impactful changes, that pulling tamarisk plants would bring to our river’s ecosystem,” said Linda Loya, Latino Conservation Week volunteer.
The organizers received positive feedback from the volunteers and expressed extreme satisfaction with the outing. For the majority of the volunteers like Pastor Juan Almanza, from Centro de Adoración Familiar, it was their first time ever seeing that side of the park.
According to, Almaza he enjoyed the day so much that he is already looking forward for next year’s Latino Conservation Week event.
The volunteers were all part of one of many unique experiences and recreational activities that Lake Mead offers. However, the volunteers were not the only ones who were able to witness the park’s beauty. Those who are on Snapchat and follow the @USinterior were able to get a sneak peak of the day, as well. The entire journey was all captured on the DOI’s (Department of Interior) Snapchat which received over 3,500 views by the end of the day.
The event was also made possible thanks to a Challenge Cost Share grant from the Outdoor Foundation through the Outside Las Vegas Foundation. The grant is helping Lake Mead expand its urban outreach within Las Vegas’ Latino community.
For additional information about this year’s Latino Conservation Week celebration throughout the nation or future details on next year’s events, please visit www.latinoconservationweek.com. Also, for further volunteer opportunities, visit www.volunteer.gov/gov.
By Yanina Aldao Joshua Tree Hi- Desert Star
This Saturday marked the start of Latino Conservation Week, a week dedicated to building awareness among Latino communities of the beautiful public lands and outdoor experiences available to them, and the importance of conservation. It is also about reaffirming their connection to nature and the land.
This connection runs deep for me; I was born and raised on a farm in Argentina. Taking care of the land was a way of life, as it is still for many Latinos. Much of my training and work experience now includes ethnobotany, which is the study of the relationship between culture and plants. This relationship is built on how our ancestors used the land and plants and how we use them today.
Within the Latino community there is a strong sense that the land is not just ours; it is our mothers’, our grandmothers’ and our grandmothers’ grandmothers’. It is also our children’s and grandchildren’s. Our culture and history is deeply rooted in nature, with traditions and wisdom about the natural world that goes back generations.
By looking at our past, our ancestors and our culture we can develop sensible, time-tested approaches to address modern land management challenges. To that end, the Latino community also has much to offer when it comes to traditional knowledge and uses of easily cultivated, native plants as traditional foods and medicines. In turn, cultivating native plants also serves the environment by helping natural ecosystems thrive. Several of the plants native to the California desert have close cousins throughout Latin America, all the way down to my family farm in Argentina.
That is why Latino communities are standing up for conservation and stewardship through advocacy and activities in places like Big Morongo Canyon in the new Sand to Snow National Monument and other national conservation lands, forests and parks.
The designation earlier this year of Sand to Snow, Mojave Trails and Castle Mountains national monuments has given rise for local organizations like the Mojave Desert Land Trust to partner in new ways with Latino communities in the California desert and to participate for the first time in Latino Conservation Week by celebrating our traditional connections to the outdoors.
My role with MDLT allows me to continue to nurture the connections between plants and culture that I first learned as a child by working with native Mojave Desert plants. I’m excited for the opportunity to showcase this work and engage the local community at events like MDLT’s Native Plants Workshop during Latino Conservation Week, and the upcoming fall open house, which will feature our newly established native plant nursery.
Nature unites us; it connects us historically, culturally and spiritually, integrating our minds, bodies and souls and provides wide-ranging opportunities to share common experiences that cross cultures.
The permanent protect of our public lands in the California desert has empowered communities to create and seek out more opportunities to engage with nature and each other through partnerships. For example, MDLT, the Council of Mexican Federations, Por La Creacion, Hispanic Access Foundation, the Native American Land Conservancy and many other diverse local groups are working together toward shared goals across a common, connected landscape.
Latino Conservation Week is a perfect example of this enthusiasm and collaboration. It is empowering Latino communities in the California desert by making their voices heard and honoring the importance of their culture and traditions. It gives a chance for all of us to return to the roots of culture and share old knowledge to pass down for future generations. This celebration of diversity makes our nation stronger and reminds us that these lands belong to all of us and we have a lot to learn from one another.
For more information, visit www.3monuments.org.
On Friday July 22nd, the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation in Boston, Massachusetts visited the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Department to learn about the history of Villa Victoria and Puerto Rican culture in Boston’s South End. Julián Huertas, a Designing the Parks intern for the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation through the Hispanic Access Foundation and the Latino Heritage Internship Program, planned and coordinated the event for Latino Conservation Week, which promotes civic engagement and education of Latinos in the United States about the outdoors, preservation, and conservation.
With an archivist at Northeastern University, the group toured the archive facility and analyzed the extensive archived reports, papers, documents, maps, city plans, and photographs of Villa Victoria in the South End of Boston. In the 1960s, the Boston Redevelopment Authority labeled Parcel 19, the twenty-acre community in the South End that contained about 2,000 Puerto Ricans, as an area for urban renewal. The residents, understanding that redevelopment would price them out, took action and collectively gained the support from other local residents, neighbors, priests, architects, college volunteers, and redevelopment professionals. The Puerto Rican residents eventually did win the right to keep Villa Victoria and stay in Parcel 19, marking a landmark event in the city of Boston that demonstrates to this day the significance of Puerto Rican heritage and culture, grass-roots activism, political organization, civil liberties, and historic preservation.
After the visit to the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Department, the group visited Villa Victoria in person to experience the current ethos and atmosphere of the community. The neighborhood and community is still incredibly alive, vibrant, and proud of their heritage. The history and legacy of Latino culture perseveres in Boston and New England as the success of Villa Victoria is still remembered to this day.
MARCE GUTIÉRREZ-GRAUDIŅŠ and JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ for The Californian
Latino Conservation Week kicked off July 16 with 17 nationwide events aimed at highlighting and promoting the beautiful public lands available to Latino communities. The weeklong event was a fantastic opportunity to explore our national parks, public lands and other favorite outdoor areas, and also to engage Latinos in the important work of advocating for our public lands.
The celebration reminded us how essential it is to preserve our national treasures and create equitable access to these important spaces. We are working to honor and protect these lands through an effort to expand the California Coastal National Monument to include five beautiful places along the state’s 1,100-mile shoreline. Public access to these coastal beauties would be guaranteed by the designation, in addition to permanently protecting the lands.
This level of access opens the door to a bevy of new recreational options, a tremendous opportunity for Latino communities. A 2012 Sierra Club survey found that 94% of Latino voters say participating in outdoor activities like fishing, picnics, camping, and visiting national parks and monuments is important to them and their families. The expansion would attract outdoor enthusiasts from all walks of life, opening the door for a seemingly-limitless experience of the California coast.
And the designation’s significance is about more than just access – it’s about conservation, the primary tenant behind the Monument’s expansion. An expansion would name each proposed land a unit of the Coastal Monument, highlighting each site’s unique characteristics and awarding priority attention from federal land management. It would allow important management opportunities to sites like Cotoni-Coast Dairies, currently closed to the public after being transferred to federal ownership. It would build strong, diverse economies through newfound tourism and recreation, and increase resources to areas of need. It would protect the breathtaking ecological habitats of millions of land and sea animals, from Humboldt all the way to Orange County.
There is nowhere else in the world like these lands. Like any other ecological wonder, they simply cannot be reproduced or replicated once they’re gone, and it’s up to us to maintain that magic for future generations. We urge President Obama to use the executive power given to him by the Antiquities Act to issue a presidential memorandum and help expand coastal protection to these five areas. There is still much to be done to engage diverse communities in the outdoors, but protecting and opening doors to these public lands is a clear first step toward that goal.
Please join us by learning more about the sites proposed for protection at yourcaliforniacoast.org. Together we can promote equitable access and protect these extraordinary lands.
Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš is the Founder and Director of AZUL, a California-based organization working to inspire Latino communities to care for and protect our oceans.
José González is the Founder of Latino Outdoors, a unique Latino-led organization working to create a national community of leaders in conservation and outdoor education and connecting families to nature.