Introducing HECHO’s new director – From Pajarito Plateau, NM to Washington, DC

Sangre de Christo Mountains

When I look out my window towards the Sangre de Cristos, I can see the yellow aspens on the mountainsides. The morning air is chilly now at seven thousand feet. A week ago, I made the short drive into the Jemez to the Valle Grande at evening, just to hear the haunting sound of bugling elk. All these things, even the small town’s preparations for Halloween, remind me it’s hunting season again. My mind goes back frigid mornings in the Rockies with my Dad and my brothers, the hours crouched in silence, waiting for deer to come across whatever draw or valley we had in our sights. My fingers were always frozen, even in my gloves, so I constantly opened and closed my hands, just to keep them warm, just in case. The cold weather, the quiet hours, the cactus needles in my socks, the time being picked on by older brothers was always worth it — we’d have venison for the winter, and if we were lucky and more than one of us took a buck, we’d have lots of carne seca made in that thin, crispy style favored in this part of the country. As a fourteen-year-old kid, I thought more about bagging a deer or squirrels or conejos, than I did about what kept all those living things alive and in balance. Like any kid, I thought about the open spaces a as something permanent, where generation after generation families had passed on traditions of hunting, fishing, hiking — even enjoying family picnics. Any new house on the landscape was noticeable. A new industrial site would be unthinkable. Now I know that nothing is permanent — I think we all do, especially the families that have been here for generations, even centuries. I am thinking about these things as I prepare to head to Washington, DC for my first trip as the director of HECHO, Hispanics Enjoying Camping Hunting and Outdoors. I know there are many other Hispano families like mine who still value these landscapes, who still hunt, fish and enjoy other outdoor activities. I am going to Washington to attend the first major conservation speech by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and talk with our nation’s leaders to let them know we care about our connections to the land, the water and the wildlife. I am going to Washington, and I am carrying all these values and experiences in my heart, so that our leaders know that we care about the future, that some of our favorite places and life ways are threatened, that we should have a strong voice in encouraging balanced development on these lands, our lands, nuestra tierra.HECHO is one avenue for all of us to make our voices heard, to share our experiences, and to encourage other Latinos who have lost their connections with the land to reconnect, and enjoy what is right outside the door. I’m excited to be heading-up HECHO, and as we move forward, I hope that I will meet some of you by the stream side or around the campfire, platicando, enjoying the outdoors, and putting our heads together to protect these treasured lands. Rod Torrez Director, HECHO Read Rod's bio here.