Bilingual Public Outreach: A Vital Resource in Todayís Consulting Environment

ECORP has provided Spanish translation and outreach services to a variety of public and private clients since 2006. With these services, ECORP provides clients the tools necessary to assist the Spanish-speaking public and those working on construction projects to understand the environmental process and laws that protect sensitive resources. One of our highlighted services continues to be our bilingual public outreach efforts. We have a dedicated bilingual staff available to make on-site visits, prepare bilingual educational material, and attend public meetings to support the client with this service. Currently, we have a growing Spanish-speaking staff with knowledge in CEQA/NEPA, Biology, Mapping, and Visual Resources available to assist clients in keeping the public adequately informed on sensitive resources within their sphere of influence.

Bilingual OutreachOne of our milestone bilingual outreach efforts has been for the Big Tujunga Wash Mitigation Area (Mitigation Area), a mitigation property owned and managed by the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works (LACDPW). Due to its status as a mitigation property, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued a permit for the site that contains certain rules and regulations required to ensure the property remains suitable for use as a mitigation property. This document also mandates the types of allowable and prohibited recreational activities at the site.

To help disseminate this type of information to the siteís recreational users, ECORP and LACDPW developed a Bilingual Public Outreach Program specific to the Mitigation Area. The program includes a tri-fold Spanish/English educational pamphlet and on-site bilingual biologists who walk the site on a regular basis to talk to the various recreational user groups. Prior to implementing the program, the non-English speaking user groups did not understand the sensitive nature of the habitats in the Mitigation Area and they had no idea that a listed species of fish, the Santa Ana sucker (Catostomus santannae), lived in the stream. They also didnít know that some activities, such as building rock dams to create swimming holes, fishing, and building campfires were detrimental to the plants and wildlife. Misunderstandings were occurring because English-speaking users and biologists could not adequately convey the message about allowable recreational uses and the need to protect the habitats.

Implementing the Bilingual Public Outreach Program resulted in an amazing transformation in the attitudes of the predominantly Spanish-speaking user groups because they understood how important the Mitigation Area is for plants and wildlife. The bilingual biologists describe the effects that various recreational uses have on the habitats and, most importantly, on the Santa Ana sucker. In addition, the biologists inform the users about how they can help to preserve the habitats and enlist them to become stewards of the Mitigation Area. With this new understanding and mission, both the Spanish and English-speaking user groups are more diligent about removing trash, more conscientious about preserving the sensitive resources, and less likely to have misunderstandings. ECORP has found educating all site users has helped in creating a universal agreement on the importance of our environment and its resources. By giving the public an understanding of what we do to conserve on a daily basis, we make it easier for them to recognize how important the environment is to ECORP and its clients.

For more information on our bilingual services contact Freddie Olmos at (909) 307-0046.