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Community invited to cut a Christmas tree and dig into tamales

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Cesar O. Castillo
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Courtesy of Defiende Nuestra Tierra
Omar Sarabia, left, director of Wilderness Workshop’s program Defiende Nuestra Tierra (Defend Our Land), and La Nueva Mix Radio host Axel Contreras attend the annual Christmas tree-cutting posada organized in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. It’s the third year the White River National Forest and Defiende Nuestra Tierra program will be leading the outing.

Local residents will have a chance to cut their own Christmas trees in the Thompson Divide area on Saturday.

It’s the third year the White River National Forest and Wilderness Workshop’s Defiende Nuestra Tierra program will be leading the outing.

Omar Sarabia, director of Defiende Nuestra Tierra, said the event is also a “posada celebration,” with traditional Mexican food and drinks.

“A posada is a traditional party before Christmas in Mexico to host or to have someone in your place,” he said. “But for us, it's just a great excuse to go into the outdoors and have tamales and champurrado and cut a tree.”

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Courtesy of Defiende Nuestra Tierra
A local family poses with their newly cut Christmas tree during last year’s posada celebration organized by Wilderness Workshop’s Latinx-led environmental advocacy program Defiende Nuestra Tierra and the White River National Forest. This year’s outing will be held Saturday in the Thompson Divide area.

Sarabia said the annual, bicultural event is also a chance for English- and Spanish-speaking residents to come together while learning how to do something new.

“I remember the first time that I went to cut my first tree when I was a kid,” he said. “I think you create memories with your family and that's what we're trying to do — connect the Latino community with our local forest but, at the same time, create memories for their families as well.”

Participants will meet at the Babbish Gulch Trailhead, near Glenwood Springs, at 10 a.m.

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Courtesy Of Defiende Nuestra Tierra
Local residents pose with Smokey Bear after getting guidance on how to cut down their own Christmas tree from Wilderness Workshop staff members and U.S. Forest Service rangers last holiday season. Participants in this year’s posada and tree-cutting outing will meet Saturday morning at the Babbish Gulch Trailhead, near Glenwood Springs.

The tree cutting will take place in the Thompson Divide area.

Sarabia said Wilderness Workshop and Defiende Nuestra Tierra will be sharing information about the latest efforts to protect the 225,000 acres of public lands at Thompson Divide from future oil and gas leasing, as well as mining, under the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act.

“It's important to stop by and see how beautiful the Thompson Divide is and why we are trying to protect this beautiful landscape that’s in our backyard,” he said.

Saturday’s outing is free, and complimentary Christmas tree-cutting permits and instruction will be provided by the U.S. Forest Service.

Registration is required on Wilderness Workshop’s website or on Facebook.

Eleanor is an award-winning journalist and Morning Edition anchor. Eleanor has reported on a wide range of topics in her community, including the impacts of federal immigration policies on local DACA recipients, the Valley’s COVID-19 eviction and housing crisis, and hungry goats fighting climate change across the West through targeted grazing. Connecting with people from all walks of life and creating empathic spaces for them to tell their stories fuels her work.