Parks offer Latinos a way to reconnect to something central to our culture and identity. These green spaces are ideal for family gatherings and for facilitating community connections, not unlike the plazas in towns across Latin America. In this way, the nation's parks brings Latinos together.
Our parks deserve what we all want on our birthday: friends coming together, setting aside their disagreements, and having a good time. Congressional friends of land protection need to do just that: put business as usual on hold, and renew and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The idea was to protect natural places for all Americans as a counterbalance to the depletion of natural resources. Now, unless Congress reauthorizes the fund, our public lands and waters are at risk of falling even further into disrepair.
I cannot recall a more eventful month than this July: We discovered the first Earth-like planet outside our solar system, capped a nine-and-a-half year space journey with the first shots back from Pluto, and saw the first report of a landmass "missing" its sun.
Last year, when Hispanic Access Foundation launched Latino Conservation Week we wanted to create a platform for organizations to showcase the involvement of Latinos in the outdoors and this community's concern for preserving our natural resources for future generations.
Buried in today's budget is a plan to spend $900 million next year for a program which has been one of the most effective in the nation since it was created 50 years ago. It is the Land and Water Conservation Fund, often referred to inside the Beltway by its acronym -- LWCF.
Long ago, in a galaxy seemingly far, far away, the federal government once played an important role in funding local parks, including parks in cities. But in recent years, the feds have had a more modest role in building and restoring our parks, and even that role is now at risk.
Adjusting to everyday life after the high intensity of deployment can be difficult. Many veterans find healing by spending time in the outdoors. That's why it's personally important for me and many veterans that we protect public lands in our state and our nation.
Protecting the great outdoors is good for our economy, helps create jobs, and ensures that the scenic landscapes that millions of people enjoy in California each year will be here for generations to come.