(CNSNews.com) - Lawmakers and civil rights groups gathered together Thursday urging President Obama to issue an executive order so the nation’s public lands are more inclusive.
“You’re sitting here making up a rule and assuming that everybody is going to feel comfortable to come to the woods and go on a hike. But everyone is not going to feel comfortable, everybody hasn’t always been welcome to do that. They don’t know – maybe they’re not interested in doing that, that’s not how they like to come to the woods,” University of Kentucky geology professor Carolyn Finney said at a press conference in Washington, D.C.
“There’s all these kinds of questions that, for me, only get answered by building those relationships - making spaces for those other people to be in the room,” she said.
“Unfortunately many families don’t have access to the parks,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said. “They don’t visit the parks and some don’t feel welcome.”
“We need to bring those lands –those parks, all our public lands, to the American people.”
The coalition’s policy statement says among the ways to ensure that parks “actively engage all people” is through taxpayer dollars and government growth.
They are asking President Obama to issue an executive order emphasizing the need for the Department of Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to "adopt guiding priorities for a more inclusive approach to conservation."
“So concretely we're talking about, the president authorizing an action committee of ombudsmen which will oversee the multiagency implementation process,” Mark Masaoka of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council said.
“One, create a senior level position in the White House at CEQUA (Council on Environmental Quality) that will help oversee implementation of this from the White House.”
“Other specific things we are seeking are resources. Full-funding for the Historic Preservation Fund, the National Heritage Areas programs, and some of the specific programs for American Indians, Alaskan Natives and Hawaiians,” Masaoka said.