By Chris Canaly, SLVEC Director
The San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (SLVEC) participated in a Health and
Safety event sponsored by HEART (Health-Equity-Action-Resident-Team) of
Saguache/KV on Saturday, November 13 th , hosted by Saguache Emergency Services
(EMS) at their Firehouse. EMS gave a great presentation about fire safety, especially
around the holidays. It was an event packed with useful resources and valuable
Presentations were provided by Saguache County Public Health, giving critical
information regarding CO-VID, status of cases in Saguache County (as of 12/03/21
there are 184 known CO-VID cases valleywide) and the Public Health Director Mona
Lovato, patiently answered questions, highlighting their outreach efforts to communities,
CO-VID mitigation and implementing their social and vaccine equity program.
Megan Strauss, of the Americorps Alpine Achievers Initiative (AAI), https://www.alpineachievers.org/, highlighted the youth programs that are available for
kids, K-12, focusing on the Mountain Valley School District, with a mission that inspires,
connects and nurtures youth, families and communities in rural Colorado. A goal of AAI
is increasing academic performance for rural youth and nurturing a passion for
conservation, adventure and enjoyment of the outdoors.
Terry Gillette, a veteran with the American Legion and Veterans Coalition of the
San Luis Valley, http://www.vcslv.info/ provided background on a host of programs,
especially for students, that both of these organizations have sponsored for a long time.
A specific focus is citizenship responsibility, http://www.vfw.org/community/youth-and-
education, and a community focus that “benefits education, the environment, health
sciences and civic projects.”
SLVEC presented on our ecological baseline inventories, specifically our projects
regarding in-door air https://www.slvec.org/indoor-air-quality-program and water quality
education https://www.slvec.org/water-quality. We also focused on the SLV Solid
Waste Management Diversion and Recycling Plan https://www.slvec.org/solid-waste-
These above environmental health concerns were prioritized for SLVEC by
community members throughout the San Luis Valley over a decade ago, who
committed to several meetings and shared their top three health concerns: impacts
to air and water quality, and illegal dumping. The nexus for us on illegal dumping was
public lands, especially since Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands bear the brunt
of illegal dumping.
We also had a chance to show off our SLV Sensitive Resources Map, which
highlights the sensitive ecological areas throughout the SLV and also indicates where
our electrical grid is in relation to sensitive resources and how the development of the
distribution grid can impact issues like renewable energy.
It was an attentive gathering, with lots of great questions and respectful
discussion. The organizers of HEART Saguache/KV were Stacey Amos Holden and
Laurie Vigil. HEART of Saguache/KV is funded by The Colorado Trust as part of their
community partnerships program. The goal of the community partnership program is to build
capacity within communities amongst those who are most affected by the issues to deal with root causes and create positive changes. https://www.heartofsaguachekv.org/