Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month

National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Hispanic Heritage Week started in 1968 and was expanded in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15th and ending on October 15th. The Month kicks of on September 15th, which is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16th and September 18th, respectively. Also within this Month on October 12th is Día de la Raza which is the celebrated in numerous Latin American Countries (Día de la Hispanidad in Spain and Día de la Resistencia Indígena in Venezuela) as a counter to Columbus Day and a celebration of native cultures.

During Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month, CSO highlights different coastal management programs and professionals working to protect and restore coastal communities.


Hispanic refers to a person who is from, or is a descendant of someone who is from, a Spanish-speaking country.

Latino/a or Latinx refers to a person who is from, or is a descendant of someone who is from, a country in Latin America.


Spotlight On A Coastal Manager: Alejandra Enriquez

Alejandra Enriquez is a 2021 Knauss Fellow from South Carolina Sea Grant  and is currently working as the Assistant to the Technical Director for the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Civil Works Research and Development Office. She is a Chicana/Latina and aspires to be a marine biologist working on the forefront of fisheries and climate change. Alejandra shared her perspective and experience as a Chicana coastal professional.

Texas Coastal Program

Texas General Land Office, Coastal Management Program (GLO)

GLO’s Coastal Resources area has done work in predominately Hispanic communities along the Texas coast using Coastal Management Program grant funds from NOAA.  A few of the projects are highlighted below.

Lower Rio Grande Valley Low Impact Development Education and Demonstration Program
Near the City of Los Fresnos, TX, several colonias are prone to localized flooding.  Texas A&M University at Kingsville (TAMUK) with funding from Texas GLO Coastal Program,  designed and constructed a bioretention system to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff and improve water quality for a selected colonia, a city neighborhood or a rural settlement inhabited predominantly by Mexicans or Mexican Americans. Education and outreach was provided to local stakeholders, developers, community leaders, and the general public. A training course was held to educate colonia residents on post-construction maintenance.  

Project Photos Project Brochure

San Benito Wetlands Project – Phase II – IV

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Water Resource Institute (TWRI) with a grant from Texas GLO Coastal Program initiated a wastewater reuse and treatment project with the City of San Benito (the City), which is a predominantly Hispanic community (86.93%) and is providing public access and enhanced birding opportunities to this community. The goal of the project was to reduce amounts of bacteria, sediments, and other impairments entering the Arroyo Colorado tidal segment of the Rio Grande. Phases 1 and 2 of the projects turned abandoned wastewater treatment ponds into wetlands that now filter nearly 4.25 million gallons of treated wastewater from the City’s operating water treatment plant each month. Phase 3 of the project increased the capacity of the wetland system by adding three additional 16.7-acre former wastewater treatment ponds to the system. These ponds settle 62 million gallons of treated wastewater in four months. Additionally, Phase 3 created public education opportunities, including informational signs describing the water treatment process on a pier at the site. Phase 4 improved existing infrastructure, synthesize long-term water quality data, and continue to develop public outreach materials and restore wetland habitat areas.  


SanBenitoWetland – Photos


Willacy County Youth Coastal Adventures

The Rio Grande Valley and lower Texas coast are home to unique marine ecosystems including the unspoiled, hypersaline Laguna Madre and the pristine southern section of the Padre Island National Seashore. Despite living near the coast, the vast majority of Willacy County school children have never been exposed to these rare ecosystems. Willacy County, which is predominantly Hispanic and Lation@, is the poorest county in Texas and has the second-highest child poverty rate with 45.9% of children living below the poverty line. These economic conditions are reflected in Willacy County school systems where resources for extracurricular activities such as educational field trips are exceedingly limited. 

Texas Floating Classroom (TFC) used GLO Texas Coastal Program funds to provide Texas students hands-on access to marine education throughout the Texas Gulf Coast. TFC takes elementary, middle and high school students on field trips to the “floating classroom” onboard the 37-foot research vessel the RV Archimedes.  At sea, students participate in a highly curated and customized environmental education program that aligns with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards. The onboard program includes lessons on water quality, bird and marine wildlife and microbiology; training in the scientific method; and instruction on instruments and techniques used by professional field researchers. 

Beach Access Points and Dune Walkovers

Cameron County and the City of South Padre Island have historically had high Hispanic populations.  The County and City used Texas GLO Coastal Program grant funds to construct numerous Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant beach access points, dune walkovers and public gathering sites for the local community. Access points, walkovers and gathering sites can be found in the following locations, to name a few:  

  • Moonlight Beach Access Improvement 
  • Ocean Circle Beach Access Improvement 
  • The Walkover at the Peral  
  • Parking Improvements and Educational Pavilion at Cameron County Beach Access #3 
  • Adolph Thomae Jr. Park Educational Pavilion  
  • Whitecap Circle Beach Access  
  • Sea Island Beach Access  
  • City of South Padre Island Lifeguard Stand Creation  

Ocean Circle Dune Walkover Pictures

Moonlight Dune Walkover Pictures

Maryland Coastal Program

Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Chesapeake and Coastal Services (CCS), Coastal Zone Management Program
Check out the exciting projects Maryland’s Coastal Program is working on! Photos to the right are Maryland’s Coastal Program’s bilingual rangers at Point Lookout State Park.

Maryland’s Coastal Program partners with Defensores de la Cuenca to engage with the Hispanic and Latin community. In Spanish most nouns, pronouns, and other words are gendered – either masculine ending in an “o” or feminine ending in a “a.” Instead of using the gendered Latino/Latina, Defensores uses the gender-neutral Latin@ instead.

Sponsoring the Latin@ Leaders Summit
CCS is partnered with Defensores de la Cuenca (Watershed Defenders) to further engage and empower environmental Latin@ leaders in Maryland. CCS co-sponsored the Defensores “Latin@ Leaders Summit” in September 2021, where Defensores fostered connections among environmental Latin@ leaders, Spanish-speakers, and those who serve the Latin@ community to talk about conservation, environmental justice, and climate change.  This event provided an opportunity for leaders to learn from each other, coordinate efforts and strengthen the voices of the Latin@ community in Maryland’s Coastal Zone. 
MD Supports the Formation of La Academia- A Spanish Language Watershed Stewards Academy
Beginning in October 2021, the Maryland Coastal Program is helping to fund the creation and implementation of La Academia, a version of the Watershed Stewards Academy taught in Spanish, to empower members of the Latin@ community to participate in coastal resource protection by learning about watersheds and water quality, community engagement, and participating in on the ground conservation opportunities.  
Bilingual Rangers in State Parks with the Chesapeake Conservancy
Through the support of a NOAA Coastal Zone Management Project of Special Merit, the Maryland Coastal Program is working with the Chesapeake Conservancy to deploy their bilingual rangers into some of the busiest coastal State Parks. In 2021, the bilingual rangers connected with over 1,000 Spanish-speaking visitors to increase safety, enhance programming, and to further stewardship of Maryland’s natural resources and the Chesapeake Bay. The rangers also deployed a survey to visitors to better understand how the parks’ resources are being used and how we can increase access for Latin@ communities. 

Additional CZM Highlights: NOAA Coastal Impact Stories

Research Reserve Adds Emotional Health Outreach after Hurricane
Local Hurricane Maria survivors can receive expert help for their trauma and stress, because the Jobos Bay Research Reserve connects them with appropriate resources.


U.S.-Mexico Partners Cut Borderlands Plastic and Marine Debris
The Tijuana River Research Reserve provides technical assistance and training for the effort.


NOAA Helps Protect Reefs That Boost Resilience and the Economy
A road improvement partnership on Puerto Rico’s Culebra Island lessens sediment and pollutants that harm this irreplaceable resource.