On Saturday August 13th, ELK partnered with the Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) in leading a regional roundtable that focused on effective ways of engaging under served youth and their families within America’s Great Outdoors. Utilizing the majesty of Rocky Mountain National Park as a back drop, ELK and HAF met with officials from the U.S. Department of Interior and The National Park Service.
Among the attendees were Alan Gilbert – Senior Adviser to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Vaughn Baker – Superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park, Larry Frederick – Chief of Interpretation and Education at Rocky Mountain National Park, Jennifer Brandt – Community Outreach Manager Hispanic Access Foundation, and Rainey Kreis – Education Specialist Rocky Mountain National Park.
In addition, ELK youth and Hispanic Access Foundation families from the Denver area were present and eager to participate. In total nearly 60 individuals were in attendance for an engaging and productive conversation discussing ways in which youth families might be further engaged in enjoying and advocating for parks, wildlife habitat, and the outdoors. The discussion was moderated by the organizations and hosted by members of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees the nation’s wildlife refuges and national parks.
An issue top of mind for the group are the critical budget cuts proposed by Congress this fall to the 45-year-old Land and Water Conservation Fund; an important program highlighted in the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative. The Fund relies on fees paid by companies drilling offshore instead of taxpayer monies to protect Rocky Mountain and other parks, wildlife refuges, clean water, and open spaces across the country. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has called the Land and Water Conservation Fund “a keystone of modern day conservation in America.”
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