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Protecting Colorado River Part of Latino Conservation Week

PHOTO: Protecting the Colorado River for future generations is the focus of a youth gathering this week. Participants will learn more about the river's rich history and immense future challenges. Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey.
PHOTO: Protecting the Colorado River for future generations is the focus of a youth gathering this week. Participants will learn more about the river's rich history and immense future challenges. Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey.
July 16, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - As part of this "Latino Conservation Week," young people from New Mexico and several other Western states will gather to learn more about the incredible history and future challenges facing the Colorado River.

Ariel Sanchez, a college student from Albuquerque, is among about two dozen people with the Nuestro Rio Youth Leadership program meeting in Colorado for a youth summit. She says the mission is centered on protecting and preserving the Colorado River.

"If we don't educate young people, then we're going to completely lose that part of our culture," says Sanchez. "And that part of our landscape."

Sanchez says the youth leaders can use the knowledge they gain for presenting at conferences, talking with their peers as well as local elected officials, and also to share their voices and ideas to help create solutions with policymakers.

Greg Webb, director of the Nuestro Rio Youth program, says people like Ariel Sanchez have helped to establish the first-ever Bureau of Reclamation Youth Council within the U.S. Interior Department. He thinks young people should be part of the conversation about issues as critical as preserving the Colorado River.

"A young Latino and Native American voice is often left out of the equation," says Webb. "As adults sometimes we think we know what's best for our young people. But young people are experts in their own experience."

According to a study from Arizona State University, the Colorado River generates $1.4 trillion annually and supports 16 million jobs across the seven Colorado Basin states: New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM