New Report Highlights 12 Latino Heritage Landmarks in Need of Protection
A new report titled, “National Landmarks We Need to Protect: A Hispanic Access Foundation Toolkit,” highlights 12 Latino heritage sites that embody the architectural, cultural and deep historical roots of the Latino community currently in need of preservation in the New Year.
Hispanic Access Foundation works with community leaders, historic preservation professionals and stakeholders to promote the preservation of sites that embody the contribution of Latinos to the shared national identity and narrative. Many of the sites face threats from weathering of structures to development and gentrification that jeopardize the long-term future of each landmark.
The report comes after President Biden took steps to designate Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument in October, and has pledged to designate Nevada’s Avi Kwa Ame as a National Monument.
The 12 sites presented in “National Landmarks We Need to Protect: A Hispanic Access Foundation Toolkit,” are:
- Avi Kwa Ame National Monument (Searchlight, NV): Located in Southern Nevada, Avi Kwa Ame is a dramatic landscape in Southern Nevada with some of the most biologically diverse and culturally significant lands in the entire Mojave Desert. From protecting this land tied to the creation story of at least 10 Yuman-speaking tribes, to preserving the habitats of the Desert Tortoise and one of the largest Joshua Tree forests, securing a monument designation is key to the maintenance and responsible use of the land. In addition, making Avi Kwa Ame a national monument provides an opportunity to bring Nevada’s outdoor recreation economy to new towns and support the allyship between Latino and Tribal communities, who have a shared stake in preserving their relationships with the land for future generations.
- Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Expansion (Sacramento, CA): Hispanic Access Foundation, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, Senators Padilla and Feinstein, and Representatives Garamendi and Thompson, and partner organizations have asked President Biden to use the Antiquities Act to add the entirety of Molok Luyuk (currently known as Walker Ridge) to Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. Adding this treasured landscape to Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument will protect important wildlife and rare plant habitat and places that are enjoyed by the region’s residents and visitors for outdoor recreation activities.
- Los Dos Laredos Binational Park (Laredo, TX): The city of Laredo, and its sister city Nuevo Laredo across the U.S.-Mexico border, are collaborating to create a binational park along the Rio Grande (known as the Río Bravo in Mexico), that would be open to visitors from the U.S. and Mexico alike. The park will cover 6+ miles of the river and 1,000 acres of land, and will help restore the river’s ecosystem, offer outdoor recreation opportunities, and celebrate the heritage and culture of “los dos Laredos,” which were once a single city before being separated by the international border.
- Chesapeake National Recreation Area (Maryland, Virginia): In Maryland, the Latino population has grown by 50% over the past decade, and Latinos make up the majority of visitors to some park sites. The ‘Nature Gap’ is especially acute in mid-Atlantic states, and coastal access is unreachable for many. Creating the Chesapeake National Recreation Area would help connect parks and trails, enable better access to the region’s landscapes and waterscapes, and bring federal resources to conservation and nature protection. 87% of the Latino in Maryland and Virginia have said they support the creation of a Chesapeake National Recreation Area.
- César E. Chávez and the Farmworker Movement National Park (California, Arizona): The proposed César E. Chávez and the Farmworker Movement National Park (S.4371) would preserve the nationally significant sites associated with César E. Chávez and the farmworker movement in California and Arizona. This is especially important for the 80% of U.S. farmworkers who are Latino and deserve to see their history reflected in the national narrative.
- Friendship Park (San Diego, CA): On the US-Mexico border between San Diego and Tijuana, there is one place that for decades has served as a gathering area for families with loved ones across the border, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to see each other in person. In July, the Biden administration released a plan to wall off Friendship Park with a closed, 30-foot border wall designed by the Trump administration, which would keep families apart permanently. Designating this historic site and treasured gathering place as a Historic Landmark or National Monument would enable greater access not just for cross-border families, but also for the general public to enjoy a scenic coastal area and waterway that has been out of reach for the largely low-income, Latino population of south San Diego County.
- Wildlife Refuge in the Rio Grande Valley (McAllen, TX): In Southeastern Texas, the Rio Grande (known as the Rio Bravo in Mexico) flows to the Gulf of Mexico and marks the border between the US and Mexico. The border wall has been built to the north of the Rio Grande, separating the border communities of Texas from the river and enclosing a beautiful, wild riverside zone. This zone between the wall and the river would be ideal for a wildlife refuge, restoring lost access to the river.
- Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary (San Luis Obispo, CA): The Chumash Sanctuary will preserve unique and irreplaceable coastal ecosystems and safeguard thousands of years of Chumash cultural heritage by protecting sacred sites. It will also stop the threat of offshore oil expansion and provide funding for needed local marine research. Chumash heritage is deeply connected to Latino history in California, as many Chumash and other individuals of Indigenous descent passed themselves off as Mexican to escape genocide. This designation would create an avenue toward telling those stories and would honor Tribal legacies and Indigenous ecological knowledge in marine stewardship.
- Castner Range National Monument (El Paso, TX): In the heart of El Paso, Texas, Castner Range provides a solid backdrop to the burgeoning city, which has grown around the range and has embraced it as a feature of the landscape. A 2022 analysis found that 9 out of 10 Latinos and 93% of low-income communities in the area surrounding Castner Range are nature deprived. El Paso communities need places to recreate outdoors, restore mental health, and enjoy the fresh air and mountain views.
- Gila River Wild & Scenic (Silver City, NM): The Gila River system is a valuable resource to all New Mexicans in that it provides a beautiful natural landscape to be enjoyed and appreciated by people from all over, a necessary environment for wildlife to thrive, an important window into the history of New Mexico, a significant agricultural resource, and an important place to further the study of our natural environment. Making the Gila a Wild & Scenic River would protect the free flow of the river, preserve Indigenous and Latino heritage on the river, and give New Mexicans a voice to manage the river for current and future generations.
- Pacific Remote Islands National Monument Expansion & Renaming (Between the Hawaiian Islands, Marshall Islands, and Kiribati): This unique group of islands is home to some of the last wild and healthy ocean ecosystems on our planet. The land and sea hold rich history, from ancient Polynesian voyaging, to the efforts of the Hui Panalāʻau, to the Pacific theater of WWII. By expanding this protected area - currently threatened by risks such as deep-sea mining - we hope to preserve and protect wildlife, history, and cultural practice for generations to come.
- Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary (Off the Coast of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut): The largest submarine canyon along the Atlantic Coast – on the scale of the Grand Canyon - is an ecological hotspot and geological wonder. The Latino communities in this region are growing and poll strongly in favor of ocean health and marine protections nationally, but many are disconnected from their nearby coast. With only 10% of the U.S. having strong coastal public access laws, sanctuary protections are essential for disinvested communities to have opportunities to engage and enjoy a healthy ocean. The Hudson Canyon marine sanctuary should expand opportunities for education, community engagement, and workforce development for historically under-resourced communities.
SEE THE FULL REPORT HERE: https://hispanicaccess.org/images/MonumentsToolkit-22.pdf
Eighty-seven percent of Latino voters in the West support setting a national goal of conserving 30% of U.S. land, waters, and ocean by the year 2030. Eighty-four percent of Latino voters in the West agree that we should create new national parks, national monuments, national wildlife refuges and tribal protected areas to protect historic sites or areas for outdoor recreation.
“As the year comes to a close, Hispanic Access Foundation is proud of the accomplishments we’ve made this year toward the goal of access to America’s landmarks for the Latino community,” said Shanna Edberg, Director of Conservation at Hispanic Access Foundation.
According to the report, Latinos and other communities continue to face the “Nature Gap,” lacking the benefits that nearby nature brings, with only 10 percent of the U.S. ocean and Great Lakes coastline is covered by strong public access laws. What’s more, less than a quarter of our national park sites have a primary purpose of documenting historically underrepresented communities, and less than eight percent represent the stories of Native Americans, African Americans, American Latinos, Asian Americans, women and other underrepresented groups.
“For these reasons, in the new year Hispanic Access Foundation is asking President Biden and Congress to designate and protect new parks, waterways, and coastal areas throughout the US that will serve Latino and other disinvested communities,” Edberg continued. “These areas, and many more that are important to Latino communities, will serve innumerable purposes with their protection.”