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Chants of a different sort greet U.S. Rep. Omar upon her return home to Minnesota. Also on our Friday rundown: A new report says gunshot survivors need more outreach, support. Plus, sharing climate-change perspectives in Charlotte.

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National Parks' Centennial: Groups Want More Diversity for Next 100 Years

Crater Lake in central Oregon is one of five National Park Service units in the state. (Epmatsw/Wikimedia Commons)
Crater Lake in central Oregon is one of five National Park Service units in the state. (Epmatsw/Wikimedia Commons)
May 6, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - As the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service nears, a coalition of civil rights and conservation groups is calling for public lands to be more inclusive over the next century.

The coalition has started a petition urging President Obama to issue an executive order to make public lands more diverse.

Maite Arce, president of the Hispanic Access Foundation, says the coalition has the legacy of public lands in mind with this petition.

"Our work here as a coalition is to challenge this president, and also our next president, to really embrace a vision for the next century of conservation that focuses on the importance of national parks and public lands for all Americans, with emphasis on 'all,'" says Arce.

She says President Obama has already led the way by offering free access to national parks to every fourth-grader and their families, and working with Native American communities to address concerns about copper mining.

Arce says hiring a diverse workforce in order to hear from diverse voices is key to making public lands more inclusive.

"There's always been for many years a discussion about the difficulty in reaching diverse communities, but without those individuals working on these lands and for our parks," she says. "It's really going to be difficult to develop programming that reaches and engages different populations."

Shantha Ready Alonso is executive director for Creation Justice Ministries, an environmental justice group that represents major Christian denominations.

She thinks there should be more protections for the sacred parts of our public lands.

"Right now, too many places where there are petroglyphs, or we know that there are graves, are being ravaged and disturbed because they're under-protected and under-recognized," she says. "We would like to see more reverence for those types of places."

The petition is online along with policy recommendations at

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR