PUBLIC NEWS SERVICE: Latino Conservation Week Highlights Importance of SD's Protected Lands

Public News Service

PIERRE, S.D. -- This week marks the third annual Latino Conservation Week, and organizers are shining a spotlight on the Latino community's concern for preserving South Dakota's natural resources. 

Several groups, including the National Park Service, encouraged Latinos to go camping and hiking and to engage in other outdoor activities as part of the week-long push. Maite Arce, president of the Hispanic Access Foundation, said the event also celebrates the Latino community's role in preserving and protecting public lands in many ways, including site visits and clean-up efforts.

"We know of Latino families who are making the drive from Denver to visit some of these parks, Mount Rushmore being one of them,” Arce said. "And so, they're making the trek just like all other Americans do out of appreciation."

The call to enjoy public lands comes as Republican leaders gather at their National Convention in Cleveland to discuss a proposed party platform which includes a call to remove some public areas - including national parks - from federal protection.

With more than 50 million people, the Latino community is the largest minority group in the U.S., and the number of Hispanic people living in South Dakota has grown to more than 30,000. With so many Latinos now living in the state, Arce argued, they can help play a role in local conservation efforts.

"By Latino voters there is concern about making sure our natural resources are preserved long into the future,” she said. "So, really thinking about tomorrow and protecting those lands from development and other threats."

Over the past three years, Latino Conservation Week has grown from 17 events in just a handful of states to more than 100 events across the country. 

A full list of events is available at

Latino Conservation Week Highlights Community’s Passion for Outdoors and Protecting Public Lands, Kicks Off This Weekend (July 16 24)

WASHINGTON – This weekend, the third annual Latino Conservation Week (#LatinoConservationWeek, #LCW2016) kicks off, continues through July 24 and will be celebrated with more than 100 events nationwide. The week is an opportunity for Latinos to demonstrate their passion for enjoying and protecting public lands through various outings, volunteer cleanups, educational events, roundtable discussions, film screenings and numerous other community activities in 17 states stretching from Massachusetts to California. 

“Latinos are passionate about enjoying the outdoors and hold a strong belief that we have a moral obligation to protect it for future generations,” said Maite Arce, president of Hispanic Access Foundation, which launched Latino Conservation Week in 2014 in its effort to showcase this community’s commitment to the outdoors and provide opportunities for engagement. “The week’s events will introduce Latinos to new opportunities, new locations and new ways to translate their passion for the outdoors into making a difference for our nation’s treasured natural resources.”

Historically, Latinos have not been actively engaged to participate in our nation’s public lands. Even with widely documented support, only eight percent of Latinos engaged in outdoor recreation in 2015, according to the Outdoor Foundation. Latino Conservation Week helps to break down barriers to the Latino population’s enjoyment of public lands, encourages new opportunities to experience these sites, creates a unique platform for groups to reach out to this community and inspires the next generation of environmental stewards. 

“As the largest minority group in America – one that is expected to grow to nearly one-third the population by 2050 – the Latino community’s engagement is critical to ensuring the future success and preservation of our nation’s public lands,” said Arce. “We appreciate the vast number of event partners and sponsors who recognize the importance of encouraging more Latinos to go outdoors and experiencing all that our nation’s public lands have to offer.”

Nearly 60 parks, organizations and community groups have joined Latino Conservation Week as sponsors and event partners. These include National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, U.S. Forest Service, National Wildlife Refuge System, REI, Por la Creacion: Faith-based Alliance, Latino Outdoors, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Sierra Club, COFEM, Atlanta Audubon Society, Los Angeles Audubon Society, Wilderness Society, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Conservation Lands Foundation, Impacto Juvenil and Latinos for Parks. A full list of participating groups is available here.

“The growth in participation and interest of Latino Conservation Week has been tremendous. What started as 17 events in six states has grown – in just three years – to more than 100 events in as many as 17 states,” said Arce. “This is a collaborative effort with the potential to have a significant positive impact on the Latino community and our nation’s treasured spaces.”

Events are currently scheduled in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. A full list of confirmed events is available at


Community Outreach Meets Program Development at John Heinz Refuge

The Service is joining Hispanic Access Foundation in celebrating Latino Conservation Week from July 16-24 as a demonstration of Latino commitment to conservation and the permanent protection of our land, water, and air. Events across the nation, including those planned by our very own interns, will bring members of the Latino community together by participating in outdoor recreation, environmental education, and conservation service projects. Throughout the week, we will share posts featuring our Hispanic Access Foundation interns and the events they’ve put together.

Without further ado:

This is Amber Betances, coming at you live from John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge!

This summer, the Hispanic Access Foundation Amber Betances - FWS photohas granted me the opportunity to work in Philadelphia at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. I was intrigued by the concept of community outreach, especially since I study landscape architecture, and the importance of including outreach in the design process. Over the years at Rutgers University, I learned about the disconnect between communities of color and green spaces/nature. Throughout the course of the internship, I’ve met with many community leaders and community partner organizations all working toward the same goal — to improve and advance these neighborhoods.

After getting to know the community leaders, I began to fully understand the severity of the conflicts a lot of these communities are facing. One of the major components in community outreach is building trust and being considerate and understanding of the obstacles these neighborhoods face. The refuge is currently in the process of partnering with local organizations to invest in the community and create green spaces tailored to community needs. Ultimately, the goal is to create programming that emphasizes the importance of conservation and helps community members develop a sense of ownership for green spaces.


I will be focusing on the development of program ideas that are of interest to the community. Sitting in on community meetings has helped me understand local needs, but my goal is to continue trying to reach a larger audience. Each conversation with a member of the Philadelphia community is valuable — even if it only serves to help the public understand what happens on a national wildlife refuge, like at John Heinz. Including the community in the design and implementation of programming gives us a better understanding of how people in different communities may feel about nature and the outdoors, and helps us address their needs and wants.


I never expected to end up at a national wildlife refuge as a landscape architect major, studying the social interactions between place and space. This internship ties in closely to what I want to do when I graduate. I want to be able to work for cities with consideration for people in the community. As a future landscape architect, I plan on working toward the advancement of communities of color by letting the communities lead the way and integrating their needs in my designs.

National Parks to Celebrate Latino Conservation Week: Events Celebrate the NPS Centennial and #FindYourPark

July 13, 2016 - WASHINGTON – Visit a national park during Latino Conservation Week and camp under the stars, go canoeing, or participate in sunset walks! Many events are happening at national parks across the country from July 16 to July 24 to create opportunities for Latinos to express their passion for the outdoors.Launched by Hispanic Access Foundation in 2014, the nine-day event is designed to break down barriers to the Latino population's enjoyment of public lands, encourage new opportunities for, and outreach to, this community to use public lands, and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. Now in its third year, the theme for Latino Conservation Week 2016 is "Enjoying and Conserving our Earth."

The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation are joining forces with Hispanic Access Foundation to spotlight events taking place in national parks during the week as part of the centennial celebration of the National Park Service.As part of the #FindYourPark and #EncuentraTuParque movement, the parks' participation in Latino Conservation Week invites everyone –especially the Latino community –to discover their own national park experience.

"We are thrilled to be a part of Latino Conservation Week, and to support efforts by Hispanic Access Foundation and its partners to invite the Latino community to Find Your Park," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis."As we look ahead to the second century, we want everyone to find their own special connections to the incredible places that are our national parks."

Events taking place in national parks during the week include "Share Your Story/Comparte Tu Historia!" at Everglades National Park in south Florida, camping at Gateway National Recreation Area in Brooklyn, N.Y., a guided hike at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in southern California, and an evening bike tour at the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, DC.

"Latino Conservation Week fosters the Latino community's passion for the outdoors and helps introduce them to new sites and opportunities to enjoy and protect our national parks," said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. "Through collaboration, we can encourage more Latinos to access and enjoy these locations, which is critical to building future stewards and advocates for these treasured spaces. HAF and its diverse partners –including national and community-based groups –appreciate the support of the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation."

"By offering many different ways to experience the National Park System, Latino Conservation Week highlights the essence of the Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque movement," said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks. "Together with incredible park partners like Hispanic Access Foundation, we are connecting more and more communities across the country to their national parks and National Park Service programs. Whether it's someone's first time visiting a park or a frequent visitor, our goal is to share the idea that parks can be welcoming places to recreate, learn, and explore a passion."

The series of events will also include programs that highlight the work of students in the Latino Heritage Internship Program. The program is a joint effort by the National Park Service, Hispanic Access Foundation and Environment for the Americas to give Latino college students the opportunity to intern in national parks and National Park Service offices.Latino Conservation Week activities supported by interns encourage learning and fun for the whole community.Some of these activities will be held in Boston National Historical Park in Massachusetts, San Juan Island National Historical Park north of Seattle, Washington, Pecos National Historic Park near Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area east of Las Vegas, Nevada.

The organizations will use social media to share Latino Conservation Week events with people around the world, using #FindYourPark, #EncuentraTuParque, #LatinoConservationWeek, and #LCW2016.

More information about activities taking place in national parks during Latino Conservation Week is available online at and


Saguaro National Park: Stewardship at Saguaro National Park



Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area: Guided Hike at Rocky Oaks Pond Trail

Sequoia &Kings Canyon National Park: Hike with a Ranger/Collecting Scientific Data on Sequoias

Redwood National and State Parks: Redwood Park Bioblitz



Great Sand Dunes National Park: Hiking Great Sand Dunes


District of Columbia

National Mall and Memorial Parks: National Mall Evening Bike Tour

Rock Creek Park: Picnic, Hike, and Activities



Biscayne National Park: Community Day on July 16, Community Day on July 23, Diving with a Purpose, Boating Education Class

Everglades National Park: Share Your Story/Comparte Tu Historia!

Timucuan Ecological &Historic Preserve: Dare To Explore



Chesapeake &Ohio Canal National Historical Park: Hike & Picnic



Lowell National Historical Park: Latino Recipe Exchange

Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation: Latino History

Boston National Historical Park: Walking Tour of the Charlestown Navy Yard



Lake Mead National Recreation Area: Invasive Tamarisk Removal


New Mexico

Pecos National Historical Park: Nature Trail Scavenger Hunt


New York

Gateway National Recreation Area -- Floyd Bennett Field: Camping Under the Brooklyn Sky



Independence National Historical Park: Pop-Up Art Show



San Antonio Missions National Historical Park: Mission San Jose Artifact Interpretation



San Juan Island National Historical Park: Sunset Hike to Young Hill



Grand Teton National Park: Untold Stories, and Pura Vida Paddling


About the National Park Service

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 412 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

About Hispanic Access Foundation

Hispanic Access Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that improves the lives of Hispanics in the United States and promotes civic engagement by educating, motivating and helping them access trustworthy support systems. For more information, visit,, and Facebook

About The National Park Foundation

The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America's national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards.In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service's 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks, a $350 million comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years.Find out more and become a part of the national park community at

Source: NPS

PUBLIC NEWS SERVICE: Third Annual Latino Conservation Week Starts Saturday

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. - The third annual Latino Conservation Week starts Saturday and runs through July 23, and its backers want everyone to get outside and enjoy California's open spaces.

There are 18 separate events planned across the state, including six in the southern California desert, where President Obama created three new national monuments in February.

Maite Arce, president and chief executive of the Hispanic Access Foundation, said the movement is growing nationally every year. 

"We started with 17 partners, 17 events," she said. "The second year, the number of events grew to 52, and this year we already have about 100 partners."

Arce said the events also celebrate the Latino community's role in pushing to designate the new Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountain national monuments. Park managers nationwide are teaming up with local groups to draw families out to experience their public lands. A full list of events is online at

Leoda Valenzuela, program manager for the Council of Mexican Federations in North America, said a big priority for her group is developing Latino leaders to carry on the cause.

"There's not a lot of awareness in our communities about these open spaces," she said, "so we seek to create that awareness and involve people in outings, hikes, and also in the stewardship of these lands."

Pastor Frank Ruiz of the Spanish Seventh Day Adventist Church in Indio said the goal of "Por la Creacion." the faith-based alliance he co-founded, is to strengthen his community's ties to the land.

"Once they experience the richness of the desert, of nature," he said, "they're going to want to experience it again and again and again."

Some of the sites of California events include Joshua Tree National Park, Tijuana Slough, the Santa Monica Mountains, the Ballona Wetlands and a nature trail in Modesto.

More information is online at