Magazine article Parks & Recreation

GreenLatinos Host Historic National Summit at Grand Teton National Park

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

GreenLatinos Host Historic National Summit at Grand Teton National Park

Article excerpt

GreenLatinos, a broad coalition of Latino leaders committed to addressing environmental and conservation issues that significantly affect the health and welfare of the Latino community in the United States, established its policy priorities at its 2016 National Summit in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming in May. The three-day summit, which convened more than 100 Latino environmental, conservation and social justice leaders from across the nation, included panel presentations, hikes, rafting and casual meals. High-level speakers included leaders from environmental justice and community organizations, national Hispanic organizations and mainstream environmental groups, and government agencies.

GreenLatinos organized the meeting against the backdrop of the majestic Teton Mountains and the beautiful Snake River to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and to support diversifying access to parks and green space in the next 100 years. The summit featured an impressive lineup of speakers from public, private and government sectors: David Vela, the first Latino Senior Executive Superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, opened the summit by welcoming GreenLatinos to the 310,000-acre park. Although Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), could not physically be there, she spoke to the group remotely about working with Latino communities on the Clean Power Plan and environmental justice. The agency will add park access to its online tool EJSCREEN in June, according to other EPA officials.

Following his presentation at the summit, keynote speaker Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor published an opinion piece titled "Public Green Spaces in the United States: A Place for Everyone (www.laopinion. com/2016/06/09/espacios-verdes-publicos-de-estados-unidos-un-lugar-para-todos) about GreenLatinos and park access, climate justice, healthy parks, historical monuments celebrating Cesar Chavez and other leaders of color, and jobs and youth leadership with the NPS on La Opinion website. Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze, who supervises more than 245 million acres of public land nationwide, dropped in for dinner and a talk with attendees. And, when a last minute schedule change prevented Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee who has led efforts to diversify the green movement, from attending, committee staffer Bertha Guerrero spoke on his behalf. Former Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, Ignacia Moreno, also gave comprehensive remarks.

The summit concluded with members selecting policy priorities for the coming year. In the weeks to come, GreenLatinos committees will promulgate action plans on:

* Climate change cessation and mitigation

* Compliance with civil rights, environmental justice and public participation laws

* Public lands designations, protection and access

* Solar and renewable energy proliferation

* Ocean ecosystems protection and coastal access

Climate change and environmental protection are civil rights and moral concerns as much as they are health, economic and environmental issues. A diverse environmental movement will directly address the rights of communities of color and low-income communities.

Environmental issues are as important to Latino voters as immigration reform, according to a poll by GreenLatinos, EarthJustice and Latino Decisions. …

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