PLC is Founded
Five leaders from Colorado and California came together to form the mission and vision of PLC. Through its kickoff press conference, it was clear PLC was here to make a difference.
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
The San Gabriel Mountains provide one-third of the drinking water and much of the green space for Los Angeles County, but it was not only being threatened by development, it was also not receiving the necessary resources for maintenance. PLC pastors from Los Angeles took charge in calling for protections for the San Gabriel Mountains – their backyard. Through holding events to explore the mountains with hundreds of youth, speaking at public meetings, engaging the media and connecting directly with elected officials and the White House, their support was instrumental in establishing the national monument.
2014 - 2015
Brown’s Canyon National Monument
What began as a weekend rafting trip in Brown’s Canyon with Denver’s San Cayetano Church and Environmental Learning for Kids ended up as a wonderful story showing the difference we can make for our community. After that initial rafting trip, several of the youth pulled together to raise money to finance a trip to D.C. show they could share their experience with decisionmakers and encourage permanent protections for Brown’s Canyon. During their D.C. trip they met with senators, congressman, the director of the National Park Service and the White House. After participating in the events and speaking at the townhall discussion, 16-year-old Diana Luna from San Cayetano was invited to the White House by the Secretary of Interior to help celebrate the President’s official signing.
2014 - 2016
California Desert Monuments
Successful efforts don’t happen overnight, they can take years of persistence and dedication. The California Desert campaign began with a recruitment session in the San Jacinto Mountains and culminated with Pastor Frank Ruiz meeting President Obama in the Oval Office when the national monuments -- Sand to Snow, Castle Rock, and Mojave Trails Deserts -- were finally established. Along the way partnerships were built with NPCA and others, media outreach was conducted on a regular basis with columns from the PLC leaders appearing in newspaper throughout the desert region, multiple events to engage the community in both the low and high desert were held, leaders spoke at public meetings and with elected officials in D.C. and letters signed by hundreds of faith leaders were sent directly to the White House.
On Earth Day 2015, the Soy Rojo program launched to spark a dialogue among tens of thousands of Latinos across the Colorado River basin, where one-third of the nation’s Latinos live and work, about the need for a healthy Colorado River. Screenings of the Spanish-version of the film “I Am Red” were held at 25 churches throughout the Colorado River basin, 2 large-scale youth events and 1 large-scale pastor leaders event. The faith leaders followed the screenings with a discussion about protecting the river and met with the media numerous times.
Boulder-White Clouds National Monument
Pastora Cecy Ruano led the local effort to preserve the wilderness area in central Idaho and create the Boulder-White Clouds National Monument. Taking her congregation on hiking trips to the area, speaking with local media and sharing her support with decisionmakers, PLC made a valuable contribution to the successful campaign.
In May, the Trump Administration made it clear that there were considering rolling back protections on as many as 27 national monuments that had been established by past presidents. HAF worked with PLC leaders to engage communities as part of the Department of Interior’s effort to collect public comments. Resulting in one of the largest participation events from Latinos on conservation, more than 50,000 comments were submitted through the effort. While the Trump Administration did rollback protections on two monuments in Utah, there is hope that the new president will restore them.
Milk & Honey
HAF released its first short film “Milk & Honey” to highlight the unique connection that rural and faith communities have to water, particularly the Colorado River. By exploring the importance of the river in Yuma, Arizona, we were able to share how we are all connected through our river systems. Not only were PLC members featured in the film, but they were engaged in visiting decisionmakers and the media, which resulted in a New York Times feature article. Additionally the PLC members supported the Drought Continengcy Plan, which was approved by the AZ, CA, CO, NV, and Mexico.
2017 - 2019
Land and Water Conservation Fund
LWCF has been a critical tool in providing Latino and other diverse communities with access to the outdoors. PLC members were integral to HAF’s campaign to both permanently reauthorize and permanently fund the program. From starring in our film “Land, Water y Comunidad” to flying to D.C. multiple times to speak with decisionmakers, PLC members were adamant about having their communities voice heard at the highest level. While the campaign had many ups and downs, the dedication of those involved is why this program will help protect our public lands and support many local parks for generations to come.