Posted: 8:50 p.m.
The Yuma community celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month today by honoring labor union activist Cesar Chavez and the Colorado River.
Although Chavez is best known as a labor leader, local leaders said he was also an environmentalist with his roots along the river.
A few dozen community members and leaders honored Cesar Chavez by highlighting the importance of his birthplace and the Colorado River to the Latino community.
Chavez's work not only advocated a social justice message, but an environmental one, too, local leaders said.
"Cesar Chavez also was an environmentalist. It's about saving our desert, our rivers, our plants, our people, and our way of life," said Ruben Reyes, Southern Arizona District Director.
In the 1980s, the United Farmworker's Uniion warned of the dangers of exploiting the earth with chemicals.
Now, locals want to remember Chavez's message and protect our natural resources in the desert southwest.
"Hispanic and Latino communities value conservation," Reyes said. "The polls show that they are for the government suggesting and implementing ways on how to conserve our most precious natural resources in the desert."
The organization Nuestro Rio conducted a survey where they found that 74 percent of Latino voters that they polled consider it very important for the government to help preserve community rivers.
The U.S. Department of Interior is currently conducting a study of the Colorado River to find ways to address the supply-demand imbalance.
Local leaders held the event today at the Yuma Hilton Garden to both honor Cesar Chavez for Hispanic Heritage Month and to make sure their concerns about the river were voiced.
"The river, as much as it has deteriorated, there's hardly any water running through it anymore," said Angel Chavez, a second cousin of Cesar Chavez.