WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nestled in the Rocky Mountains along the Arkansas River, Browns Canyon is a slice of natural beauty featuring critical habitat for wildlife, unrivaled whitewater rafting and an amazing outdoor experience. This scenic landscape is what attracted more than 60 Hispanic youth from Denver to spend a July weekend whitewater rafting and camping for the first time.

Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF), in partnership with the Denver-based Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK), have been working to expose more Hispanics to the natural wonder of Browns Canyon and emphasize through experience the importance of preserving it for future generations.

"One trip down Class II and III class rapids in Browns Canyon, and now these kids are vocal champions for the outdoors," said Maite Arce, executive director of HAF. "Some of us had never been rafting before, but we were all inspired to return. Better yet, we were inspired to fight to protect this place so that young people could always enjoy it."

Browns Canyon has been a central focus for many recreationists, business leaders and conservationists in Colorado. U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) is leading a local effort to ensure permanent protection for Browns Canyon via congressional legislation. Working with Senator Udall and Congress, President Barack Obama could protect Browns Canyon so that the river, its native wildlife, and the experiences of visitors are preserved for future generations.

"The rafting trip was just the beginning of the journey for these young people," said Stacie Gilmore, executive director of ELK. "For many of them, this was their first real outdoor experience. And it made such an impact that their concern for protecting our natural wonders has grown exponentially."

The young people in the group are planning a trip to Washington, D.C., next month and are hoping to visit with Senator Udall to thank him for his efforts, White House staff and Secretary Ken Salazar at the U.S. Department of Interior to encourage policy-makers and the public to join them in championing the protection of Browns Canyon, and all of our parks, rivers and national monuments.

"These young people are eager to make a difference for Browns Canyon," Arce added, "whether it takes an act of Congress or a stroke of a pen in the White House."
For more information or to learn how to become more involved, please visit www.hispanicaccess.org and www.elkkids.org.

About Hispanic Access Foundation

Hispanic Access Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to promote responsible citizenship, educational attainment, and active engagement in the improvement of the health, environment, and financial well-being of Hispanic families throughout the United States. Working with and through our strategic partnerships with faith and community organizations, we are dedicated to providing greater access to information and local resources to the U.S. Hispanic population to improve their health and quality of life. For more information visit www.hispanicaccess.org.

About Environmental Learning for Kids

Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK), is a Denver-based, 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to cultivate a passion in science, leadership, and service in a diverse community of learners. ELK was established in 1996 by two wildlife biologists who saw a growing need to introduce and educate Colorado's urban youth about science, leadership, and careers. For the past 16 years, ELK has successfully achieved its goals by providing both classroom and experiential field activities to more than 133,000 at-risk youth and their families across the Denver metro area, including Aurora and Commerce City. For more information visit www.elkkids.org.

Robert Fanger

317-410-7668