Friday, November 20, 2015

Former BLM chief aims to get Latino youth outdoors

Juan Palma grew up near some of the most spectacular places in the West, with the volcanic peaks of Mt. Adams and Rainier never far from the horizon in Washington state's Yakima Valley.

But as a young boy from a large family of migrant farmworkers, it never occurred to him that he could easily head off into the mountains that rose up in the distance.

“I didn't know it was public,” he said. “It was beyond my world.”

The former head of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) state office recounted his boyhood impressions during a Nov. 7 hike to Delicate Arch, as a group of school-aged children from Moab rushed up the trail ahead of him.

Palma organized the four-hour trip with the hope that it will strengthen the students' connections to public lands. It was the first of several planned outings that the now-retired civil servant will lead in his new role as the chief conservation officer of HECHO, which stands for “Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors.”

It doesn't take a genius to see what's going on here. 

Whites account for over 90% of the visits to Forest lands, but they are declining as a percentage of the overall population.

Hispanics account for only 5% of visits but are the fastest growing segment of the population.

The enviros and the federales are putting on a full court press to increase their customer base among Hispanics.  Otherwise a declining percentage of the public will utilize these lands, threatening the political power base of the enviros and the budgets of the federal agencies.

The big push is on and they are using taxpayer money to accomplish their goal.

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