Gila unites family, community

By Vyncent Bourne, Silver City
August 23, 2019 | Silver City Daily Press and Independent

Dear editor,

My family and I recently relocated to Silver City this summer, after traveling down the West Coast and through the Southwest exploring state parks, wildlife refuges and the wilderness in between (about 2,000 miles of adventure). It didn’t take long for us to realize that what this town has to offer in terms of wilderness area was enough to stop us traveling and settle down.

After hiking a few trails and witnessing the gorgeous surroundings, I got involved with the Southwest New Mexico Audubon Society and now hold a seat on the board of directors, in hopes to have more of a voice in protecting this great land. I’ve also come to realize that the traditions and strong cultural connection people have with this area is another sign that we picked the right place to be.

A few weekends ago, my wife and I took our two daughters, Luna (11) and Solara (2), to explore the Gila River, play in the water, eat some good food and maybe make some new friends. When my family and I arrived at the Grapevine Campground, I was surprised at how many people had the same idea; to run into the Gila Forest to make memories with family and friends while maintaining a constant connection to the beauty surrounding us. This is something I believe to be a much-needed human experience — medicine for our souls, in a sense. Being at the river that day reminded me of all the reasons why we decided to relocate our family in the first place, in search of something better, beautiful and meaningful.

The Gila is unmatched for outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, cooking and floating the river. However, for me, it’s a place I go to reconnect with my wife and two kids. That trip to the Gila a few weeks ago, watching my family, truly showcased how much my Grant County community loves to enjoy our outdoors together, and reminded me that we must not take our wild and beautiful places for granted. We must work together to ensure that, my daughters, our children, are afforded the same pleasures and opportunity to get outdoors and have fun.

The landscape and adventure did not disappoint. Our Gila River has run free-flowing its entire life, sculpting the tall canyon walls and providing what it needs to sustain life. The abundance and diversity of birds, fish, and wildlife that the Gila region has become so famous for is proof of that.

I, now more than ever, feel I must do what I can to help my community protect its river, the last free-flowing river of the Southwest, the Gila River, as Wild and Scenic.

This guest column originally appeared in the Silver City Daily Press and Independent.