The event has been held throughout the U.S. since 2014, though this is the first year that St. George will be participating, joining over 150 events nationwide.
“We’re excited to celebrate the Latino community’s commitment and conservation and feel that it’s important to recognize. Especially as the Latino population grows in Southern Utah,” Sarah Thomas, Conserve Southwest Utah land program manager, said.
Latino Conservation Week is an initiative put on by the Hispanic Access Foundation. The goals of the initiative are to provide Latino people with outdoor recreation opportunities close to home, demonstrate the Latino community’s commitment to conservation, partner with Hispanic community leaders and organizations to support national and regional conservation issues, and inform policymakers, media and the public of the Latino community’s views on such issues.
“We believe that we can only succeed in protecting special places like the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, for example, if all voices get to join in, in standing up for our public lands,” Thomas said.
Conserve Southwest Utah is holding events from July 16-20 which aim to provide education and support the conservation of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, which protects about 45,000 acres of public lands.
The conservation area contains over 130 miles of trails, two wilderness areas, several cultural and historical sites, and a variety of wildlife including the threatened desert tortoise and the gila monster.
According to the 2010 U.S. census, 13% of St. George’s population is Hispanic or Latino. The nonprofit decided to participate in Latino Conservation Week to support St. George’s Latino population and celebrate their connection to public lands and conservation in the area.
“We do have a pretty good-sized Latino community, and we’re trying to reach out and try to get people involved with our public lands,” Susan Crook, land program manager for Conserve Southwest Utah, said.
All of the week’s events in St. George are free and open to the public.
Latino Conservation Week events in St. George:
From 7:30-9:30 a.m., the public is invited to help bring areas damaged by wildfire in Red Cliffs National Conservation Area back to life by watering and weeding young plants in vegetation pots. The pots are part of an experiment to re-establish native plants such as globe mallow and creosote which provide food and shelter for desert animals.
From 10-11 a.m., participants will have the opportunity to meet and learn about several local desert reptiles including a desert tortoise, gila monster and Sonoran mountain kingsnake. The event will take place at the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve Visitor Center at 10 N., 100 East in St. George.
From 7:30-10 a.m., a group will participate in a sunrise hike and yoga at the Cottonwood Canyon Trail in Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness. Participants will also learn about the geology of the area during the 3-mile round trip hike.
From 9:30-11:30 p.m., the organization will be holding a night sky party, including refreshments, at the Red Mountain Wilderness trailhead. Participants will have the opportunity to look through a telescope and learn about stars from the St. George Astronomy Group.