Democratic News

Jul 20 2016

Cantwell, Booker, Menendez, Bennet and 23 Other Senators Request Obama Issue Presidential Memo to Promote Diversity at Federal Land Management Agencies

Senators send letter to ask president to “provide more opportunities for federal land management agencies to reflect, honor, and collaborate with diverse communities in order to create a more inclusive environment for all Americans”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and 23 other senators have sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to issue a Presidential Memorandum to promote diversity at federal land management agencies like the National Park Service, which celebrates its centennial this August. A renewed focus on diversity will more fully reflect and celebrate the numerous cultures, communities and people that have contributed to America’s rich history.

“Americans represent an array of cultures, ethnicities and traditions. These differences have shaped our nation’s identity and should be reflected within our national parks’ leadership, workforce and educational outreach. When visiting America’s public lands our youth—who grow increasingly diverse every year—should feel inspired when seeing someone of their same ethnicity, gender or cultural background represented in the history of the stories they hear and the people from whom they learn,” the senators said.

“America’s public lands, including national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife refuges are resources that belong to all of us and require our combined efforts to protect. These lands provide opportunities to enjoy nature, observe wildlife in its natural habitat and learn about the critical need to preserve them. We ask that you provide more opportunities for federal land management agencies to reflect, honor and collaborate with diverse communities in order to create a more inclusive environment for all Americans to engage with our natural and cultural treasures," the senators conclude.

Co-signers include: Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.).

Organizations supporting this effort include the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council, Creation Justice Ministries, Hispanic Access Foundation and National Urban League.

Full text of the letter follows:

July 18, 2016
The Honorable Barack Obama
President
1600 Pennsylvania Ave N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

With the upcoming centennial of the National Park Service in August 2016, we write to ask you to consider issuing a Presidential Memorandum directing federal land management agencies to broaden the diversity in the sites protected, stories told, communities engaged, and people considered as stewards of our public lands. We appreciate the significant steps you have already taken to promote diversity, including at historic sites and beautiful places protected in our system of public lands, and we encourage you to continue these efforts.

Americans represent an array of cultures, ethnicities, and traditions. These differences have shaped our nation’s identity and should be reflected within our national parks’ leadership, workforce, and educational outreach. When visiting America’s public lands, our youth—who grow increasingly diverse every year—should feel inspired when seeing someone of their same ethnicity, gender, or cultural background represented in the history of the stories they hear and the people from whom they learn.

America’s public lands, including national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife refuges, are resources that belong to all of us and require our combined efforts to protect. These lands provide opportunities to enjoy nature, observe wildlife in its natural habitat, and learn about the critical need to preserve them. We ask that you provide more opportunities for federal land management agencies to reflect, honor, and collaborate with diverse communities in order to create a more inclusive environment for all Americans to engage with our natural and cultural treasures.

As we enter a second century of the National Park system, we must advance a plan for our public lands that reflects our multi-cultural identities. The Administration has already taken steps to honor underrepresented communities. We encourage you to continue to build on these efforts and help connect our diverse youth with the richness of their histories.