8:47 am - Saturday September 23, 2017

Colorado River Roots Run Deep for Latinos

Kathleen Ryan

YUMA, Ariz. – There’s a new chapter in the story of the Colorado River.

Today in Yuma, Latino leaders are marking Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the importance of the Colorado in Latino history – and in the history of one of the community’s key leaders. Activist Cesar Chavez grew up along the banks of the Colorado in the North Gila River Valley. This week, his home become the newest national monument.

Amber Tafoya, a member of the group Nuestro Rio, says the river is an important part of Western and Latino culture.

“Cesar Chavez and many of our leaders have deep roots to the river, and in order to maintain those deep roots, we need to be able to have the river for future generations. That requires that we be very mindful of how we use it.”

The Western State Latino Voter Survey also will be released at today’s event. It asks Latino voters about the importance of the government protecting rivers such as the Colorado and about how its waters should be used when dealing with drought and other challenges.

Tafoya says it’s important to balance the current demands on the river with the need to preserve it for future generations.

“We’re really calling on (Interior) Secretary (Ken) Salazar to be a leader in taking immediate conservation steps to protect our river.”

The Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, conducted by the Bureau of Reclamation, a branch of the Interior Department, is scheduled for release next month. It looks at strategies such as city conservation programs and more water-efficient farming techniques to balance the multiple demands on the Colorado River.

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