This month, Hispanic Access Foundation’s U.S. Forest Service Southern Region Advisory Council traveled to Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in northern Georgia to discuss how to diversify outdoor spaces, and welcome underrepresented groups.
The USFS Southern Region Advisory Council was formed in the winter of 2022 as a partnership between Hispanic Access Foundation and the USFS with the goal of bringing diverse partners together to educate them on Forest Service decision-making processes, and facilitate their input into future project funding decisions.
“Seeing this community of dedicated leaders come together from all over the country and their commitment to the council really showcases how much they value cultural representation in outdoor areas,” said Jessica Godinez, Hispanic Access Conservation Manager. “Diversifying the outdoors and implementing inclusive initiatives can really make a difference in the lives of many people who might have never stepped foot in a national forest.”
Council members from Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, and other states gathered on May 31 and June 1 for a special meeting and to visit recreation sites to provide feedback on their future improvement as part of the prospective funding by the Great American Outdoors Act. Together, with the U.S. Forest Service and other local partners, they discussed the importance of the inclusion and engagement of underserved communities in natural spaces, and shared ideas on how to make public lands accessible to every visitor.
The Hispanic Access and U.S. Forest Service partnership is one that prioritizes the transformation of the outdoors into inclusive spaces, where communities can feel welcomed in all outdoor spaces.