The new online campaign LatinosForHeritage.org allows visitors to share their support for maintaining the national monuments currently under review by the Trump Administration in what is widely considered an attempt to eliminate or shrink their protections. Comments submitted through the site will be delivered to the Department of Interior prior to the July 10 public commenting deadline.
"Many of these monuments were established to represent or celebrate the diverse heritage and cultures that make up this country," said Maite Arce, president and CEO of the Hispanic Access Foundation. "The Latino community has been active in protecting these special places, and we need to again demonstrate our support. These places are more than just acres of land, they are chapters in the great American story."
Since 1906, when Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law granting the executive office the authority to establish national monuments, 16 presidents – eight Republicans and eight Democrats – have used the law to protect our natural and cultural heritage. More importantly, these national monument designations have received broad support. For example, the 2017 Colorado College conservation poll showed that 80 percent of voters back keeping national monuments in place, while only 13 percent support revoking them.
"These monuments exist for all of us and should not be sold off or privatized," said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota. "Not only do they protect our public lands and cultural and historical objects, but they also serve to support local economies, tourism, and outdoor access. The Administration needs to hear from all of us, and know that some places are too important to be lost."
Latinos have been part of the democratic process of permanently protecting millions of acres of public lands for their communities and for future generations. For example, the Latino community were active participants in the efforts to establish the Sand to Snow, Mojave Trails and San Gabriel Mountains National Monuments in California, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico, Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, and many other places.
"We have a moral obligation to protect these lands and leave a legacy for future generations," said Pastor Martin Martinez, leader con Assemblies of God El Sereno and a member of Por La Creación Faith-based Alliance in Covina, Calif. "With President Trump requesting a review of past national monument designations, it's time for all of us who love our public lands to stand up for our collective heritage."
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