Latino Conservation Week kicks off this weekend with dozens of events in California and almost 300 meetups across the nation. The program started ten years ago with just 16 events, meant to get the Hispanic community outdoors and motivated to protect the environment.
Juan Rosas, conservation program associate with the Hispanic Access Foundation, said hard-working Californians need to enjoy the state's beautiful parks, mountains, desert and beaches.
"In a generation where technology is winning, and everyone's indoors under fluorescent lights, we're seeing depression rise," he said. "There is a lot of healing when we go outside and get some vitamin D from the sun, breathe fresh air, put our toes in the sand, be able to sit under a tree."
The organizers are pressing President Joe Biden to establish a new Chumash National Marine Sanctuary along the central coast, and to expand the San Gabriel National Monument near L.A. and the Berryessa Snow National Monument up north. People can find out more about the festivities on the website LatinoConservationWeek.com.
Rosas added California's heavily Latino inner cities need more local parks where people can unwind.
"When someone lives up in the hills and has a lot of the money, I mean, they can go walk their dog outside, and they're in it," he explained. "But when you're living in the middle of el barrio in East L.A., we definitely need to see more safe, clean, green spaces for our recreation for the public, for mental, spiritual, emotional and physical health."
Next month, the Hispanic Access Foundation will launch an air-quality monitoring program called "El Aire que Respiramos", which means "The air we breathe." It is a collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency that will place air-monitoring equipment in Los Angeles, La Mirada, San Bernardino and Thermal.