“Land, Water and Comunidad”

“Land, Water and Comunidad”

Exploring Connections between Latino Communities and the Land and Water Conservation Fund

S.E. Williams

Members of the community gathered at the Grove 16 in Redlands on Tuesday, August 14 for an open   screening and discussion of the film “Land, Water and Comunidad.” The event was hosted by the Hispanic Access Foundation (HAC). 

HAC is partnering with non-profit organizations in communities across the country to host other screening events for this film in support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a Federal program established by Congress in 1965 to provide funding and matching grants to federal, state and local governments for the acquisition of land and water, as well as land and water easements for the benefit of all Americans.

“Land, Water and Comunidad” explores the relationship Latinos across the country have with Land, Water and Conservation Fund (LWCF) sites, what these sites mean to them, how they enjoy them, and the impact it would have on their communities if these sites were not available. 

LWCF has supported more than 41,000 parks and projects and played a critical role relative to ensuring that underserved and urban communities have places to connect with nature, spend time with family, enjoy outdoor recreation and/or explore their cultural heritage. 

In the short film, young people from California, Colorado and Miami share their stories about how access to parks, forests and beaches in their communities funded by the LWCF, has greatly impacted their lives. The film also highlighted how allowing migrant families and all families access to these locations enables them to reconnect with traditions and create memories. It has also inspired them to protect preserved lands for future generations.   

By broadly sharing this film, HAF hopes to help others understand why it is so important for congress to authorize funding for LWCF. If legislators fail to reauthorize the program by September 30, or decide to reduce its funding, Americans everywhere will lose. 

Immediately following the screening of “Land, Water and Comunidad” there was a round table discussion led by Peter Satin, a Land Stewardship Supervisor with the Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) and a member of the Hispanic community. 

Satin explained the connection Latinos have with the land and the need to keep these spaces available for communities regarding just how valuable LWCF is to us as a nation. 

According to Satin, lands preserved by LWCF also support the health of local communities through the creation of walking space and parks in urban areas—thousands of communities across the country have benefitted from hiking trails, bike routes and walking parks because of LWCF. 

For these and so many other reasons, LWCF has grown ever more valuable to Americans over the last 50 plus years.   As a result, the loss of LWCF funding will have a great impact on communities nationwide. Satin also stressed the need for congress to reauthorize LWCF before the September 30 deadline.  

Readers who care about healthy lands and waters and the benefits they provide our local communities are encouraged to contact their legislators and encourage him/her to support reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Contact information for federal legislators is available online at http://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. 

This story was produced as part of UCLA’s Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS) 2018 Watershed Fellowship for Ethnic Media.

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