July 10, 2013 by Jennifer Brandt
By Germán González-Flores
There is a long history of controversy concerning the Dinosaur National Monument – in Colorado – in regard to the land leases to exploit oil and gas, and how these operations could impact the ecosystem and the beauty of the region. Meanwhile, only 9 percent of the nation’s approximately 54 million Latinos visit our country’s national parks each year. For these and other reasons, the Hispanic Access Foundation has taken up the challenge of launching the campaign “Four Stops, One Destination” trip, with the purpose of engaging Latinos in order to increase their attendance at these places and their role in protecting these natural wonders for future generations from the same threats derived from the exploitation of the aforementioned resources.
This campaign includes a tour by Maite Arce – Executive Director of the Foundation – and her family. It will cover 950 miles and starts at the Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado, continuing to Arches National Park in Utah (July 16 – 17), then to Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park (July 17 – 20) and ending at Chaco Culture National Park in New Mexico (July 20).
Arce and local media launched the event with a flyover of Dinosaur National Monument on July 11. We met at San Cayetano Church and said a short prayer with Father Tomás Fraile, before driving up to the Vail Valley Jet Center in Gypsum, CO. Our trip in a small Cessna aircraft flying at an altitude of about 8,000 feet, made everyone a little nervous but we appreciated the natural mosaics, the canyon and its’ rivers and that these natural resources exist for the community to visit and enjoy.
There were two planes filled with media: German Gonzales from La Prensa de Colorado, José Guzmán from Telemundo, and Mayé Agama and Lara Montoya from El Pueblo Católico and Linda Sosa (organizer) Salvador Carrera, Executive Director of the Multicultural Outreach Office of Denver Park Service, and Maite Arce.
To focus on the Dinosaur National Monument’s cultural history means to go back in time at least some 10,000 years. The Yampa and Green Rivers provide water for survival in an arid country. Indian rock art in the form of petroglyphs and pictographs reveal evidence that many people have come before us. History tells that the Fremont Indians lived in the canyons in Dinosaur National Monument 800 – 1,200 years ago.
This monument preserves a wide variety of resources both from the past and today.
The geological and paleontological resources that exist in the park provide glimpses of environments millions of years ago and some of the plants and animals that lived then. It is noteworthy that the Carnegie Fossil Quarry is world renowned and specimens from it are featured in museums across the globe. Over 1,500 different dinosaur bones are on display; this national park provides habitat for more than 1,000 native species of plants and animals and includes more than 200,000 acres of river canyons, mountains, and basins.
On oil and gas drilling, Maite added, “If we don’t have a balanced approach to energy development, future generations will not be able to enjoy the beauty of these parks as they stand today. And it will be that much more difficult to attract Latinos, and other communities for that matter, to these parks.”
It should be mentioned that this aerial tour opportunity was made possible through the support of Eco Flight.
The Arce- Argleben family are made up of Maite, her husband, Ted their sons Luke and Noah, and a family friend Jonathan. Their trip can be followed on hispanicaccess.org and Facebook and Twitter.