News Coverage

27 July 2014

SILVER CITY SUN-NEWS: Colorado River Day brings Bishop Oscar Cantú and Las Cruces youth to Silver City

Category: News Coverage

Friday's Colorado River Day at Gough Park was an afternoon-long event with speakers, including state Representative Rudy Martinez, D-Bayard, and Bishop Oscar Cantú of the Las Cruces Catholic Diocese.

Now in its third year, Colorado River Day was organized to celebrate the Colorado River's 93rd birthday. On July 25 in 1921, Congress re-named the river from the "Grand" to the "Colorado." The Silver City event also brought a couple of activist organizations: Nuestro Rio and the Hispanic Access Foundation from Las Cruces, along with a dozen young people who were there for a weekend camping trip with Cantú.

Cantú said he takes no position on the Gila River diversion issue.

Sara Benitez, of the Hispanic Access Foundation, noted that 38 percent of American Hispanics live in the Colorado River Basin.

"This last year, we have been working with a group of youth in Las Cruces to help protect the Gila River. Part of the reason we're doing that is that if water from the river is diverted, it would be directed to Las Cruces," Benitez said. "So we thought it was important to involve members of that community to learn about that issue and find out how they could protect it."

Marco Chairez, 17, a member of Hispanic Access Foundation, traveled to Silver City from Las Cruces to participate in the Colorado River Day. "I love nature and I think it's our duty as Catholics to take care of nature," he said. "Being in the outdoors kind of refreshes me, and I want my kids to be able to go out on the Gila River and enjoy all the blessings that I have."

Organizations such as Protect the Flows, which launched the first Colorado River Day three years ago, advocate improved urban conservation, improved agricultural efficiency, and water-sharing agreements among users in response to the growing water shortage, rather than diverting water from the Colorado River and its tributaries, such as the Gila River.

Molly Mugglestone, of Gunnison, Colo., is co-director of Protect the Flows. She said she remembers the three students from Aldo Leopold Charter School who died in a plane crash with their pilot in Silver City in May.

"I knew Ella (Kirk) a bit," she recalled. "And I was so impressed by those young people — not only their passion for the Gila River but their dedication in becoming informed. I was extremely saddened by the news of that tragedy."

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Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

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