Haaland, Neguse: ‘America the Beautiful’ plan should bring Native Americans, POCs into conservation fold
As government officials embark on President Joe Biden’s recently announced “America the Beautiful” plan, the time is right to make strides to provide Native Americans and other people of color with increased roles in the country’s conservation and clean-energy future, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulder) and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said Thursday during a webinar hosted by the University of Colorado Law School.
The pair is a particularly strong duo to deliver such a message given that Neguse, himself a graduate of CU Law, is Colorado’s first Black congressman and Haaland, previously a U.S. Representative from New Mexico, is the first Native American woman to occupy a cabinet post.
“It’s an incredible achievement for our country that will inspire a generation of young people and people of color to pursue their dreams,” Neguse said of Haaland’s appointment. Haaland, whose office was next to Neguse’s during his first term, noted that the same can be said for Neguse’s election.
Under the new administration and with a Democratic majority in Congress, lawmakers are poised to have more success “applying the equity lens” to conservation and environmental issues, Neguse said.
We believe that time is right to strike while the iron is hot,” he said.
Under the America the Beautiful plan, Biden has established a framework to conserve 30% of the nation’s land and water by 2030.
This is especially impactful for Native people and tribal lands, which have historically been under-considered in the conservation conversation.
Particularly concerning for Haaland is the lack of access to clean water on tribal lands.
Biden “wants to make good on America’s promises to Indian Country,” Haaland said.
Another issue, Haaland said, is “inequitable access to the outdoors by people of color.”
“You (must) talk to tribes before you make decisions,” she said, adding that the government has too often failed to consider policy impacts on Native people before implementing its plans.
Neguse said part of the success he’s had as chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands stems from skills in finding common ground that he learned at CU, he said.
To successfully legislate, one must “not just think critically, but also walk in someone else’s shoes,” he said. “This is a skill that’s in short supply in this society and in this day and age.”
© 2021 BizWest Media LLC
By: Lucas High
Source: Daily Camera
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