WASHINGTON  - The U.S. Forest Service has launched a new public service advertising campaign aimed at increasing Hispanic visits to the nation's forest and grasslands.

U.S. Forest Service Encourages Hispanics to Get OutdoorsThe mulitimedia promotion was developed by the Forest Service and the Ad Council. It represents an extension of the agencies' Discover the Forest campaign started in 2009.

According to the Outdoor Foundation report, while Latinos make up 23 percent of the nation's under-18 population, only 5.8 percent of youth who participate in outdoor recreation are Hispanic. Many Hispanic children are missing out on the physical and mental health benefits of playing outside, the Ad Council said.

The Spanish-language TV, radio and billboard service ads were produced pro bono by Totality. They feature three Latino families that discover and enjoy forest activities. The campaign is furhter supported by a website: www.descubreelbosque.org and a corresponding Facebook page, www.facebook.com/descubreelbosque. Each of these online platforms includes interactive games, a list of activity ideas and a  forest locator.

"We welcome everyone to America's national forests and grasslands. They are the nation's backyard," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "More than 245 million people live within 100 miles from these treasures. Even for those Americans who live further, especially those in urban areas, your Forest Service backyard experiences will become lifetime memories."

"According to our research, many Hispanics have misconceptions about how close they are to a forest," said Peggy Cowan, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "The fact is that most Americans live in relatively close proximity to some form of forest, park, or grassland, and can easily take a day trip. We want to get the word out that not only are forests and parks a wonderful place to visit and escape the stress of daily life, but they are much closer to us than we think."

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