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Senators from both sides of the aisle want Trump to clear the air on the Khashoggi killing. Also on the Wednesday rundown: Massachusetts leads the U.S. in the fentanyl-overdose death rate; plus we will let you know why business want to preserve New Mexico’s special places.

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Montana Groups Join Call to Make Public Lands More Diverse

Glacier National Park is among the best-known parts of the extensive system of public lands in Montana. froggidonna/morguefile)
Glacier National Park is among the best-known parts of the extensive system of public lands in Montana. froggidonna/morguefile)
May 6, 2016

BOZEMAN, Mont. - This summer is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and a large coalition, including the tribal group Eco Cheyenne from Montana, is circulating a petition on the website Change.org.

It asks President Obama to make diversity a hallmark of the next century for the National Park System. The request includes considering new monuments that reflect the contributions to conservation by communities of color.

Shantha Ready Alonso, executive director for Creation Justice Ministries, part of the coalition, suggests the government take a cue from the system used to market the Affordable Care Act and send rangers from varied backgrounds into churches and schools to explain what public lands have to offer.

"Why can't we have a guide who understands nature who could orient our community to the riches that are all around us in God's creation," she says. "It's possible and it's necessary."

She says the coalition will submit a list of policy goals along with the petition. One proposal seems closer than ever, as it was reported this week that the feds are planning a monument to the struggle for gay rights at the Stonewall Inn in New York.

Maite Arce, president and CEO for the Hispanic Access Foundation, says having Park Service and Forest Service staff members from varied ethnic groups could make people of color feel more welcome.

"Without diverse individuals working on these lands and for our parks, it's really going to be difficult to reach different populations," Arce says.

Cost is a factor for many families as well. One of the latest programs, "Every Kid in A Park," includes a free pass to a national park for every fourth-grader and their family.

And since taking office, President Obama has created 23 new national monuments, many of which focus on the achievements of Native Americans, women, Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MT