July 20, 2016

Sens. Warner, Kaine Urge President Obama to Promote Federal Lands Diversity

WASHINGTONU.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined 25 other Senators in sending a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to issue a Presidential Memorandum to promote diversity at federal land management agencies like the National Park Service, which celebrates its centennial this August. This renewed focus on diversity will more fully reflect and celebrate the numerous cultures, communities, and people that have contributed to America’s rich history.

“Americans represent an array of cultures, ethnicities, and traditions. These differences have shaped our nation’s identity and should be reflected within our national parks’ leadership, workforce, and educational outreach.  When visiting America’s public lands, our youth—who grow increasingly diverse every year—should feel inspired when seeing someone of their same ethnicity, gender, or cultural background represented in the history of the stories they hear and the people from whom they learn,” the Senators wrote.

“America’s public lands, including national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife refuges, are resources that belong to all of us and require our combined efforts to protect. These lands provide opportunities to enjoy nature, observe wildlife in its natural habitat, and learn about the critical need to preserve them. We ask that you provide more opportunities for federal land management agencies to reflect, honor, and collaborate with diverse communities in order to create a more inclusive environment for all Americans to engage with our natural and cultural treasures,” the Senators conclude.

Organizations supporting this effort include the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council, Creation Justice Ministries, Hispanic Access Foundation, and the National Urban League.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for the promotion of the history of diverse communities in Virginia. They have introduced legislation to recognize the resilience and contributions of African Americans to the United States since 1619 and to add additional historically significant areas around the City of Petersburg to the Petersburg National Battlefield.

Full text of the letter can be found here and is below.   

The Honorable Barack Obama
President
1600 Pennsylvania Ave N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

With the upcoming centennial of the National Park Service in August 2016, we write to ask you to consider issuing a Presidential Memorandum directing federal land management agencies to broaden the diversity in the sites protected, stories told, communities engaged, and people considered as stewards of our public lands. We appreciate the significant steps you have already taken to promote diversity, including at historic sites and beautiful places protected in our system of public lands, and we encourage you to continue these efforts.

Americans represent an array of cultures, ethnicities, and traditions. These differences have shaped our nation’s identity and should be reflected within our national parks’ leadership, workforce, and educational outreach.  When visiting America’s public lands, our youth—who grow increasingly diverse every year—should feel inspired when seeing someone of their same ethnicity, gender, or cultural background represented in the history of the stories they hear and the people from whom they learn. 

America’s public lands, including national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife refuges, are resources that belong to all of us and require our combined efforts to protect. These lands provide opportunities to enjoy nature, observe wildlife in its natural habitat, and learn about the critical need to preserve them. We ask that you provide more opportunities for federal land management agencies to reflect, honor, and collaborate with diverse communities in order to create a more inclusive environment for all Americans to engage with our natural and cultural treasures.

As we enter a second century of the National Park system, we must advance a plan for our public lands that reflects our multi-cultural identities. The Administration has already taken steps to honor underrepresented communities. We encourage you to continue to build on these efforts and help connect our diverse youth with the richness of their histories.

Sincerely,

###