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What Growing Latinx Outdoor Participation Looks Like In Colorado

A view of Island Lake in Boulder County from above.
Flickr user thphht
A view of Island Lake in Boulder County from above.

In 2020, Colorado’s state parks reported record high visitation rates. In total, 18.3 million visitors recreated across the state’s 41 parks. But as more Coloradans and tourists participate in the outdoors here, not everyone has been a part of that boom.

Many prospective recreators don’t feel welcome in the outdoors, or in many cases, don’t know how to access public lands they pay for, or what gear they need. Efforts are in place across the state to change that for everyone, including Hispanic and Latinx Coloradans, a group that has been historically underrepresented in the outdoors. And a part of Colorado’s population that is on track for some major growth in the coming decades: by some estimates, as many as 1 in 4 Coloradans by 2040.

To explore recent growth in outdoors participation, and efforts to encourage more Coloradans to explore public lands – especially those from underrepresented communities – we spoke with Juanita Echeverri, education and outreach coordinator with the City of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks; Juan Ocampo, a resident ranger with Boulder County Parks and Open Space at Betasso Preserve; and Rafael Salgado, executive director of Cal-Wood Education Center in Jamestown, CO.

I host and produce KUNC’s in-depth, regional newsmagazine Colorado Edition, which has me searching across our state for peculiar and impactful stories to bring to listeners, always with a focus on empowering the people who hear our show and speaking through them to our guests. I am also a big nerd about field recording and audio editing, my dedication to which I hope serves our listeners who care about audio as much as I do.