Commentary: Earlier this week, Representative Xochitl Torres Small spent a morning fishing at Lake Roberts in the Gila National Forest. Joined by representatives from the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, Conservation Lands Foundation, NM CAFé, and volunteers and community members from the Silver City area, the Congresswoman was there to celebrate southern New Mexico’s public lands and the communities they sustain.
“The Continental Divide Trail connects landscapes that are important to countless diverse communities, from the Chiricahua Apache who have called this land home for thousands of years to the people moving from across the country to be part of a burgeoning outdoor recreation economy in towns like Silver City,” said Teresa Martinez, Executive Director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC). “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share those stories with Representative Torres Small, as she continues to work in Congress for the protection of special places like the Gila National Forest and the Continental Divide Trail.”
Representative Torres Small’s visit to Lake Roberts was part of an effort spearheaded by the CDTC called Faces of the Continental Divide. According to the CDTC’s website, Faces of the Continental Divide is a “summer of events and storytelling celebrating the many people and communities who treasure [the Continental Divide]” in order to “tell a more complete story of the people who value public lands in the Rockies.” As part of the event, participants shared their own stories of connection to the land and what draws them to spend time outdoors. WolfHorse Outfitters Guide Joe Saenz, of Warm Springs Apache ancestry, spoke about how the Apache peoples have historically stewarded the region, as well as current issues facing the tribes.
“Here in southern New Mexico, we have such a rich history of connecting to the land,” said Angel Pena, Rio Bravo Program Director for the Conservation Lands Foundation. “From bending over the first disco my dad gave me cooking chorizo y papas with friends, to spending a beautiful morning like this one fishing on the lake, I’ve made countless memories outside. I hope my stories inspire others to do the same, because these places belong to each and every one of us.”
Faces of the Continental Divide continues through September 28, and many events are open to the public and free of charge. You can learn about events near you or how to host your own event at continentaldividetrail.org/faces.