The Obama administration is trying to draw more Latinos to U.S. national parks through the creation of a list of Latino heritage sites within the national park system, Travel Weekly reported.
The endeavor is headed by the American Latino Heritage Fund within the National Park Foundation, the official charity of the national parks. Latino sites range from Spanish colonial fortifications to missions across the country from Florida to California.
Latinos are under-represented in park visitor numbers, according to Francisco Carrillo, director of Latino affairs for the Department of the Interior. He said that the government is working with groups such as the ASTA/NTA Hispanic Task Force to call attention to the Latino heritage program.
Karen Nozik, director of ally development and partnerships for the National Parks Conservation Association, a lobbying group for the national parks, said, “The demographics of the U.S. are changing, and we need to educate more Latinos about the parks. They are the perfect demographic for parks. They like intergenerational trips of two to four days duration and they like to drive to their vacations.”
Besides publicizing Latino heritage sites in national parks, the National Park Service wants to find and preserve other sites that show the contribution of American Latinos.
For example, the new Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Keene, Calif., pays tribute to the man who founded the United Farm Workers of America.
The 2010 census counted 50.5 million Latinos in the U.S. Latinos comprise 16.3% of the U.S. population, an increase of 46.3% in 10 years. Yet despite a 400-year history in North America Latino culture, heritage, visitation and stewardship are almost non-existent at national parks and historical sites. Only 3% of the 86,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places explicitly recognize and celebrate our country’s ethnically diverse cultures.