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ChispaAZ celebrates Public Lands Day with get outdoors online campaign

The non-profit group dedicated to environmental justice urges people to enjoy the outdoors as part of statewide celebration

Arizona’s LatinX community members are being encouraged to visit a public park, hike a trail or ride a bike this Saturday as part of the state's Public Lands Day celebration.

Chispa Arizona, a non-profit dedicated to promoting environmental justice and climate change action in LatinX communities, is asking community members to participate in the outdoor challenge and to share photos to its online campaign as part of the celebration.

Public Lands Day was officially approved by the Arizona Legislature two years ago to be recognized annually the first Saturday in April. But the COVID-19 virus lockdown has curtailed large gatherings and activities to help promote it.

This year, Chispa Arizona, which is part of the League of Conservation Voters, would like for people to share their outdoor experiences with them as part of an online campaign with the hashtag #MiParqueMiPueblo

“One of our main goals is the protection of public lands and green space,” said Chispa spokeswoman Vianey Olivarria. “We see an incredible need for people to be out in nature, whether it’s a walk in the park or a bike ride around their neighborhood. For many of us, it’s the only thing we could do that provided a sense of normalcy during the past year.”

With the COVID-19 virus still lurking, Chispa Arizona didn’t feel comfortable bringing together a large group of people for outdoor activities, Olivarria said, but individuals and small groups should find ways to enjoy the outdoors.

“The air we breathe, the water we drink and the spaces we populate is a connection to the land and the environmental justice movement we are fostering,” she said. “Arizona is at the forefront of climate change issues as it is only going to get hotter. We only have a small window of time to work on it.”

Olivarria said members of the group’s email list, which numbers about 20,000, have been asked to participate in the challenge. Chispa Arizona, which was established in 2014, has been active on issues such as weighing in on the actions of the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities such as Arizona Public Service, and monitoring bills in the Arizona Legislature dealing with climate, green space and other quality of life issues related to the environment.

“Environmental racism still exists,” she said. “It’s important for us to hold corporate entities, regulatory commissions and politicians accountable.”

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