Latino Sites Identified as Potential National Parks

Ed O’Keefe, Washington Post, January 4, 2012

Continuing his push to identify more historic sites important to the nation’s Hispanics, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to tout a new report Wednesday identifying several sites tied to Latino heritage in Colorado and New Mexico that could one day become national parks or historic landmarks.

Notably, one of the sites happens to be in Salazar’s back yard.

The report, requested by Salazar, should help his personal goal of establishing more national parks and historic sites tied to minorities. The fact that the sites are in two swing states with burgeoning Hispanic populations means that the report also could be seen as an overture to the nation’s Latino voters, a bloc being aggressively wooed by President Obama’s reelection campaign.

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Salazar, the Obama administration’s most senior Hispanic official and Colorado’s former senator and attorney general, plans to visit his home state to formally unveil the report, published late last month, that labels 3.26 million acres in Colorado’s San Luis Valley and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and northern New Mexico as areas that could one day become part of a national park or historic site.

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In October, Salazar said the Park Service needed to identify more sites tied to minorities that could be added to the park system, noting that less than 3 percent of all national landmarks are designated for women, Latinos or African Americans. Last year, he ordered agency officials to identify sites nationwide that could eventually join the nation’s network of parks and historic sites, including California’s “Forty Acres” site used by labor activist Cesar Chavez in the 1960s to raise awareness about migrant farm workers.

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