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SALT LAKE CITY — A weeklong push to celebrate and expand Latino involvement in the outdoors and conservation efforts is wrapping up this week — but Utahns still have time to take advantage of river cleanups, star gazing parties and more.
Latino Conservation Week, held July 16-24, is a national initiative with nearly 200 events happening across the country.
"It's just a week highlighting the amazing work on the Latino community in outdoor spaces and also making sure that we keep these spaces accessible to all types of people," said Meisei Gonzalez, communications director for HEAL Utah, a nonprofit sponsoring multiple conservation week events.
"It's also a time for us to learn about how to get involved with local politics, how to get involved with contacting our legislators to ensure that Latinos can still be able to access the outdoors," Gonzalez said.
A number of events in southern Utah and along the Wasatch Front have already taken place, and Gonzalez said there has been a good amount of community participation. For example, an outdoor gear swap had over 500 donated items and more than 150 people show up.
For Kimberly Yapias with Wasatch Community Gardens, the week also poses an opportunity to increase cultural knowledge in the area. The gardens, along with Artes de México, is hosting a presentation on ancestral farming practices.
"One thing that's hard if you come from a different country — you kind of lose access to the special growing traditions that maybe you grew up with," Yapias said. "One of our goals is to bring back that cultural appreciation and understanding to people that already know it and haven't had a chance or a space to really appreciate it, and also to people who might not know it and want to learn about it."
Wasatch Front events
Sabores de mi Patria - Food is Culture presentation, Thursday, July 21, 5:30-7 p.m., Wasatch Community Gardens in Salt Lake City
This presentation will explore a Mayan farming practice known as La Milpa. The practice involves a number of culturally significant foods — including corn, beans, squash and marigolds — that grow well together. The workshop will be entirely in Spanish with English translation. Masks are required and registration is free. The presentation is the second of a three-part series. The last workshop will be held on Sept. 22.
Night at the Aviary, Friday, July 22, 6-9 p.m., Tracy Aviary & Botanical Gardens in Salt Lake City
This after-hours night will include tours of bird exhibits and art activities. Registration is free.
Dark Sky Event and Star Party, Friday, July 22, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., East Canyon State Park in Morgan
Participants can view galaxies, nebulae and other deep-sky objects using high-powered telescopes with the help of park staff and other volunteers. There is a park entrance fee of $10 per vehicle.
Jordan River cleanup and hangout, Saturday, July 23, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., 17th South Park in Salt Lake City
The Hartland Community 4 Youth & Families' environmental stewardship program is hosting a cleanup of the Jordan River Trail as well as food, drinks and live music from Grupo Mantra.
Paddle the River, Saturday, July 23, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Tracy Aviary's Jordan River Nature Center in Salt Lake City.
The Tracy Aviary is hosting a canoe trip along the Jordan River. Learn about environmental conservation and visit the Jordan River Nature Center. Registration is free and all gear is provided.
Southern Utah events
Meet the Reptile Celebrities of Red Cliffs, Friday, July 22, 3-5:30 p.m., St. George Library
Tu-wee the desert tortoise, Charlie the king snake and Hercules the Gila monster will be at the library to take photos. Visitors can learn about how to protect the desert environment where the reptile trio live, become a certified "Tortoise Defender" and play tortoise trivia and games. Registration is free.
Ride Along the Virgin River, Saturday, July 23, 10-11:30 a.m., Sullivan Soccer Park in Washington
This family-friendly, 5-mile bike ride will cover sections of the boardwalk beside the Virgin River. The ride kicks off at Sullivan Soccer Park with free coffee and bagels as well as a bike safety talk. Sign-up is free, and those who need to borrow a bike can contact Conserve Southwest Utah.
Fiesta de las Estrellas, Saturday, July 23, 9:30-11:30 p.m., Red Mountain Trailhead in St. George
The St. George Astronomy Group will teach participants about the galaxy with the help of a telescope. Registration is free.