Public Lands are a Statement about Who We are as Americans

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) is a 35th generation New Mexican who is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna and also has Jemez Pueblo heritage.

As New Mexicans, we value the beauty of our public lands and the joy that families find in them. For me and many New Mexicans, this is my ancestral homeland. The Pueblo people migrated to New Mexico in the late 1200’s, and many of our sacred sites are scattered throughout our public lands. It’s why I am an advocate to protect Chaco Canyon, and continue to ensure that everyone can enjoy the beautiful and culturally significant places that make New Mexico so special.

When I was a kid, my dad would always take us to enjoy the outdoors. We would visit a National Forest or National Park when we could, even if it was raining outside. It gave me an appreciation for that time with my brother and sisters. It’s these memories and the memories we can all create with our families that make public lands so important. We learn to honor and respect the resources that the earth provides — water, air, and land sustain life.

Public lands are a statement about who we are as Americans. The most pristine and beautiful places in our country should never belong to one person, and they should tell all of our stories.

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So many of our country’s parks and public lands written about in these love notes would not exist but for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). This important conservation program was permanently funded when Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act earlier this summer. You can learn more about the Land and Water Conservation Fund here.

Would you like to write about public lands that you cherish? Please email Mary Jo Brooks at brooksm@nwf.org for guidelines.

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