Dozens of Latino organizations have called for the U.S. House of Representatives to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which preserves natural and water resources.

Congress created the LWCF in 1965, which is set to expire on Sept. 30, and a new bipartisan bill (H.R. 1814) would permanently reauthorize the conservation fund. According to the letter signed by 75 Latino organizations, the LWCF has been "instrumental" for Latinos living in urban, suburban and rural areas since it created recreational outdoor opportunities, such as parks and trails.

"The importance of the LWCF to Latinos is underscored by the fact that our community is disproportionately affected by environmental factors, which place long-term health in serious jeopardy," the letter continued. "Forty percent of Latino children are overweight, and 50 percent are on track to develop diabetes. The recreational and outdoor opportunities created by the LWCF could help to reduce or reverse these trends."

Some sites include the National Park Service Latino Heritage Site's Santa Fe National Forest and Watershed, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, Cabrillo Beach Development and Roberto Clemente State Park.

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"The LWCF protects our open spaces and improves access of these public lands for everyone, but its importance to the Latino community is without question," the letter stated, which has been signed by organizations including the Center for Latino Progress, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), Hispanic Federation, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National Hispanic Environment Council and United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI).

"The 2015 Colorado College State of the Rockies Poll found that when it comes to specific environmental priorities, there is nearly unanimous Latino support for protecting and conserving natural areas for future generations (97 percent), protecting and conserving wildlife habitat (96 percent) and making sure that rangers have the resources they need to take care of public lands and provide services to visitors (96 percent)."

The letter urged House lawmakers to co-sponsor H.R. 1814, acknowledging that three out of four Latinos support the LWCF.

"[The] LWCF is essential to the Latino community's health, culture, and the future of our children. From national parks like the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and the Great Smoky Mountains, to national wildlife refuges, national historic sites, national forests, rivers and lakes, community parks, trails, and ball fields, the LWCF has helped protect America's most treasured places in every state. Moreover, more than 41,000 state and local park projects were set aside for Americans to enjoy thanks to the LWCF."

For the full letter and list of 75 Latino organizations, click here.

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