Editor’s Note: 2023 marks the golden anniversary of the ESA, a law that has been a powerful catalyst for conservation of America’s most treasured fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for five decades. People power the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Here in the Pacific Region, Tribal, federal and state partners, local supporters, and our dedicated staff are the driving force behind the successes we share and the strength ensuring we can continue to face the challenges ahead. Throughout this year-long celebration, we invite you to celebrate this milestone with us as we reflect on past successes, assess current challenges, and envision an equally bright future for the next 50 years and beyond.
In a community still reeling from the Department of the Interior’s announcement about a $1 million per year investment in the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge a few days prior, people gathered at the Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho (HCCI) in Nampa, Idaho to celebrate Earth Day.
“We have been working with our community to co-design events and programs, but really, the community is in the driver’s seat,” said Eddie Owens, manager of the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. “This event was scheduled because of an interest by our partners; it was really the HCCI’s idea and Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge was one of numerous partners,” Owens added.
Earth Day is a holiday that raises environmental awareness and occurs on April 22 of each year. It’s a time when people pitch in to pick up litter, plant trees and pollinator gardens, and provide many environmental educational opportunities as well. Earth Day is a feel-good day, and the event at HCCI was no exception; there were smiles and laughter and all of the feels.
The event at HCCI had several booths providing information about nature, the Canyon County Marine Patrol, the Nampa Public Library, and the Nampa School District, but the cultural performances were what really made this event stand out.
Local members of the Hispanic community performed cultural dances, played music, and highlighted local species with cultural meaning, like the monarch butterfly. “Providing the community with information about ways to celebrate Earth Day, while weaving in the cultural importance of fish, wildlife, and mother Earth, is what community wanted,” said Owens.
At the event, visitors could learn how to identify a coyote skull, contribute to a community art piece, and get information about nature-based, green organizations in the Nampa area. There were also a variety of local food trucks offering Mexican, Peruvian, and American food to enjoy. The event was organized by the Treasure Valley Urban Conservation Partnership, a coalition of local organizations in the community that support equitable and welcoming opportunities to learn and engage with nature on public lands. Treasure Valley Urban Conservation Partnership stewards natural spaces and builds resilience to the effects of environmental threats, such as, while supporting community efforts through the collaboration.
Earth Day is a time when communities come together to recognize how important it is to ensure that our planet is healthy and not only supports people, but also fish and wildlife. Celebrating these shared values together is an essential piece of our community’s existence and well-being.
Today, hundreds of species are stable or improving thanks to management actions of Tribes, federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations and private citizens. Our partners share a commitment to build on our accomplishments and expand innovative initiatives to further this mission in the future.