Suzanne Potter
Public News Service – CA

 

MOJAVE DESERT, Calif. — The fund that supports many local, state and national parks is about to expire on September 30, unless Congress passes a bill to reauthorize it. Now a new film highlights the Hispanic community’s support for public lands and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park are two of the areas highlighted in the film “Land, Water y Comunidad,” as some of the more than 41,000 parks and other outdoor projects LWCF has funded. The Hispanic Access Foundation produced the film, in which San Bernardino County project coordinator Christine Tamara said public lands bring Latino families closer.

“Our parks and community pools are a place where we can get together and it’s not too expensive,” Tamara said. “Being able to go to a nice park or a community pool, that can change a little boy or little girl’s childhood.”

President Trump’s 2019 budget would gut the LWCF, which receives about $900 billion a year from fees for offshore oil and gas drilling. The film “Land, Water y Comunidad” is online now at HispanicAccess.org, and the foundation is showing it in screenings and at film festivals around the country.

Jennifer Brandt, also with the Hispanic Access Foundation, predicts if the LWCF is allowed to expire, parks won’t have sufficient personnel or resources for maintenance and improvements, and some may even have to close.

“So without that funding, it would be a detriment to so many communities who have received this funding in the past but wouldn’t be eligible for the funds that maintain these sites,” Brandt said; “and to help make sure that there are parks in every community, so that everyone has that access.”

In over 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has poured almost $2.5 billion into California alone. A study from the Outdoor Industry Association said the program helps support 700,000 jobs in California and stimulates $92 billion in consumer spending.