Editor's note: This article is part of an occasional series by the Great Salt Lake Collaborative showcasing how to have fun at the Great Salt Lake. For more coverage go to greatsaltlakenews.org.

Residents of Salt Lake City’s west side communities are among the most ethnically diverse in Utah. Closer than east side neighborhoods to Great Salt Lake, they often contend with issues including dust storms and air pollution. Recreational activities along the Jordan River, which flows into the lake, have provided many community members with solace despite the challenges.

Episode 1: Clean air and community with Gilberto Rejon Magaña 

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Gilberto Rejon Magaña is the founder, executive director, and coach of Hartland Community 4 Youth and Families, a nonprofit organization on Salt Lake City’s west side. With a strong commitment to serving his community, Rejon Magaña is on a mission to make a positive impact on the lives of local residents. In this episode, he shares his goals for the organization and discusses the devastating effects of dust storms and air pollution on the daily lives and recreational activities of his neighbors. Professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah, Doctor Daniel Mendoza, also discusses the scientific research that explains why west side communities are often disproportionately affected by this pollution.

Episode 2: Birds and Ecosystems with Daniel Hernandez

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Daniel Hernandez, born and raised on Salt Lake City’s west side, discovered his love for the great outdoors in the bustling neighborhood of Rose Park. Today, as the director of culture at the Nature Center at Pia Okwai and the Tracy Aviary at Liberty Park, Hernandez is on a mission to spread the joy of outdoor leisure to others. From consulting and outreach to relationship building and program development, he wears many hats. He also delves into policy writing and research. Tune in to this episode as he shares his insights on the importance of culture and environment in the world of birding.

Episode 3: Kayaking the Jordan River and Beyond with Viviana Hernandez

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Outdoor recreational enthusiast Viviana Hernandez also hails from Rose Park. Her passion for nature was sparked by none other than the Jordan River waters running through her own backyard. From the first time she took a boat to the water, she has been on a quest to fully embrace and discover the wonders of mother nature, with a particular fondness for rivers. In this episode, Hernandez takes us on a journey through her many outdoor adventures, her deep connection with water and her love for Rose Park. 

A student at the University of Utah, Emma Emma Ratkovic reported and produced this story as part of a College of Humanities journalism course in partnership with the Great Salt Lake Collaborative. The collaborative is a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake – and what can be done to make a difference before it is too late. Read all of our stories at greatsaltlakenews.org.

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