YCNHA Quarterly Newsletter March 2020

Executive Director's Blog March 2020

By Lowell Perry

“Positioning the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area for the Next 20 Years”

A National Heritage Area, is designated by Congress for its unique nationally significant qualities and resources. It is a combination of natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combining to shape a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape. We take a partnership approach to heritage development involving collaborative planning around a theme, industry and/or geographical feature that influenced the nation’s culture and history. This planning strategy encourages residents, government agencies, nonprofit groups and private partners to agree on and prioritize programs and projects that recognize, preserve and celebrate many of America’s defining landscapes.

The story of water and its continuing impact on the people, land, and economy is the key to understanding the history of Yuma, the oldest city established on the Colorado River. The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area (YCNHA) encompasses seven square miles along the Lower Colorado River in Yuma, Arizona and Winterhaven, California, with over 3 miles of contiguous riverfront parks, trails, and 400 acres of restored wetlands. It also includes the Yuma Crossing National Historic Landmark, the iconic Yuma Territorial Prison (YTP) and Colorado River State Historic Park (CRSHP), and the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, home of the Quechan Tribe. We would like to thank those of you who have invested, and continue to invest in this important work of restoring, preserving, and maintaining Yuma’s history. In addition to our local efforts to support the YCNHA, we are also engaged in our broad reauthorization in order to keep doing so for the next generation of Yumans, as well as those who travel to our fair city and other Heritage Areas. In particular, please urge your friends, family, and loved ones to support bi-partisan program legislation in both the Congress (H. R. 1049) and the Senate (S. 3217) which will authorize and standardize the designation of National Heritage Areas.

Heritage Areas are a popular program out of National Park Service not only because of the compelling conservation and historic preservation efforts of the now 55 National Heritage Areas spread across the country, but because they are also one of the most efficient programs out of ANY federal department, returning an average $5.50 for every taxpayer dollar invested. In Yuma, that ROI is closer to $10.00 of local, state, and private funding per every federal dollar invested.

So what can you do to continue to Be Yuma’s Future by Investing in It’s Past? Educate your Representatives, Senators, and the U.S. Department of Interior on the value of Heritage Areas, and that their support of H.R. 1049 and S. 3217 at the level of $32 million per year for 15 years would yield significant dividends. Given the aforementioned average leverage of an investment in Heritage Areas, should the U.S. invest that $480 million in educating kids about their heritage over the next 15 years, citizens can expect an on average total ROI of $2.64 billion. Let them know that you demand it, and your kids and grandkids deserve it! And oh yeah, don’t just tell your elected officials yourselves. Educate your friends, families and coworkers as well by sharing this blog, as well as having them visit: www.yumaheritage.com and https://www.nationalheritageareas.us/.

Colorado River State Historic Park

Visit our new website at Coloradoriverpark.com

Photo cred: MGM Design

The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area would like to welcome our newest team member Emily who is joining us through a National Parks Program. We are thrilled to have her on our team. She will primarily be at the Colorado River State Historic Park and Yuma East Wetlands.

Hello Yuma community! My name is Emily Sanderell and I’m the new interpretive intern here at the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area and I just wanted to share a little bit about me so that you can get to know me better. I’m originally from Ohio, but recently moved to Yuma because my husband is a marine stationed here. This past April I graduated from Otterbein University with an undergraduate degree in history and education. I have a strong passion for helping teach communities through engaging and fun environments like those at the Colorado River State Historic Park and East Wetlands, which are where I will be working throughout my internship. Outside of loving all things history, I also love dancing, reading, cooking, binge watching all things Star Wars, and spending time with my husband and our Australian Cattle Dog named Dottie. I’m excited to be a part of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, and I can’t wait to help bring life to Yuma’s diverse history, ecology, and culture!

On January 25th and 26th the Colorado River State Historic Park held their annual Civil War Days event. Over 100 re-enactors from all over the Desert Southwest came out to share a part of the United States history. There were approximately 800 attendees that came to enjoy this event.

The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area has been working closely with the students from STEDY, Southwest Technical Education District of Yuma, to create a self-guided tour app that visitors can use when touring the Colorado River State Historic Park. This app is currently available Android phones, but the students are working to create the codes for iOS.


The Yuma Territorial Prison is working on living up to the excitement of being named the #1 Most Haunted Destination in the U.S. On February 29th we hosted a second "Hunting of the Ghosts" event beginning at 8:00 pm. The event was open to 20 visitors and was sold out. Prison Manager, Mike Guertin had Paranormal Professionals attend to assist guests during this time!

It’s a great time to visit the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park! Come out and view the new hospital cell display and experience the Old West at one of Arizona’s most popular historic landmarks. If you’d prefer a guided tour, contact the park at 928-783-4771 for information on guided tour availability.


Photo Cred: Paige Lineberry

Thanks to all 25 volunteers that helped out today! We accomplished so much. We fixed a section of our trail, picked up a lot of trash & removed old cages from dead trees. Thanks again to the volunteers and our amazing staff that took some time out of their weekend to help preserve the Yuma East Wetlands!Stay tuned in for another Drop in Day opportunity in March.

Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management Grant

Yuma East Wetlands

YCNHA has received funding from the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management to remove invasive species within 17.5 acres at Yuma East Wetlands on Quechan Indian Tribe land. The project area consist of riparian and wetland habitat infested with two of the most aggressive invasive species in the southwest, phragmites and salt cedar. In efforts to preserve and enhance a healthy habitat, in February our grant project began with the mechanical removal of phragmites and salt cedar. Biomass created during the removal process will be chipped and spread on adjacent trails. YCNHA staff will suppress new growth of invasive species throughout the summer, and plant native vegetation this fall.

The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area team attended the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce's Annual Dinner in early January. The YCNHA was recognized as a Gold Level Partner, Member of the Month and table sponsor.

We would like to congratulate YCNHA Board Member Shelly Mellon on receiving the Athena Award. This award was so deserving as she is an amazing role model for our youth and supports our community in so many ways. Congratulations Shelly.

The Yuma Territorial Prison had a very special guest tour the Prison. Senator, Martha McSally visited the Prison in late January. She had never been and wanted to see one of Arizona's most popular and historic landmarks . We thank her for supporting the Heritage Area by proposing a bill to Congress to reauthorize our Heritage Area designation for another 15 years. We are very thankful for her time and support.

Executive Director Lowell Perry was fortunate enough to recently meet with State Representative Tim Dunn. Lowell shared the future vision and much-needed preservation work required at both the Yuma Territorial Prison and Colorado River State Historic Park. The YCNHA has been working on raising funds to preserve these iconic, historic assets that tell important pieces of Arizona’s history and requested Representative Dunn’s support toward these efforts.

Since December 3rd, 2019, our team has been working tirelessly to raise funds for all areas the YCNHA oversees. We are happy to report a total of $23,000 was raised in one month, exceeding our goal of $20,000! Thank you to the Yuma community for your amazing generosity!

We want to thank each individual donor for their generosity during our Giving Tuesday campaign. To learn more about what the YCNHA does to restore, preserve, maintain, and promote Yuma’s history, as well as ways you can contribute toward those efforts, please visit our website at www.yumaheritage.com or call Sarah Halligan at 928-373-5190.

  • Laurel Adair
  • AEA Federal Credit Union
  • Walter & Susan Bain
  • Wayne Benesch
  • Colleen Brenner
  • Delon Dalke
  • Louis & Geri Didier
  • Marty & Selma Dillon
  • Tom & Mary Lou Edwards
  • Luis & Cecilia Encinas
  • Richard Files
  • Anne V. Fisher
  • Guenter & Marjorie Geldmacher
  • Jeanne & Sherwood Glover
  • Richard Gramley
  • Patrick & Karen Griffin
  • Harrison Farms
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Frances Horsman
  • S.C. Houggard
  • Russell Jones
  • Bob Kammann
  • Karl & Teri Koenig
  • Dalton & Nancy Lewey
  • Richard Loebig
  • Larry Lord
  • Rusty McBride
  • Mike Morgan
  • Naomi R Mulhern
  • Joann Nickel
  • Edward Oller
  • Doug Pancrazi
  • Jeff & Jamie Penny
  • Brian Phelps
  • Fred & Kellner Phillips
  • M. Angelina Ruiz
  • Shay Oil
  • Margaret Sheehan
  • James and Renee Sheldahl
  • Edward & Tammy Snook
  • Steve & Jane Steinfelt
  • Kevin & Michelle Stoleson
  • Sunny Breeze Farm
  • Anthony Tew
  • Ken & Carol Truett
  • Tom & Mara Tyree
  • Mr. & Mrs. Mike Vandeveld
  • Kim & John Vaughn
  • Robert & Patricia Wheeler
  • Lloyd Williams
  • Kathy Wong


Photo Cred: MGM Design, Paige Lineberry & Sarah Halligan