Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area June 2021 Quarterly Newsletter

Message from Executive Director, Lowell Perry Jr.


June 23, 2021

Yuma’s strength has always been its people. We typically find ways to adapt, adjust, and overcome nearly any challenge. Such as when public support for a crazy idea to clean up the banks of the Lower Colorado River, spawned the Yuma East & West Wetlands parks, creating over 500 acre wetlands and riparian habitat enjoyed by hikers, bikers, anglers, tubers, birders, and nature lovers alike. The community later rallied around the City of Yuma, and the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area to save the Yuma Territorial Prison and Colorado River State Historic Park from closure by the State of Arizona due to budgetary issues.

As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic, family friendly, inexpensive outdoor activities such as those offered in the Wetlands, are at a premium for weary shut-ins. The Yuma Territorial Prison, the diamond of Yuma, has gone on to become one of Arizona’s most treasured attractions, and awaits visitors with new sights, including perhaps a close encounter or two, as it lives up to its status as one of America’s most haunted destinations.

However, it is the Colorado River State Historic Park getting the most attention recently for the opening of the Yuma Crossing Discovery Center gift shop, as well as the unveiling of the “UMA” or “Youma” photo-op metal sculpture on its grounds. The latter being the handiwork of Aztec High School students under the skilled guidance of Weld Like a Girl welding maven, Shanen Aranmor. Come on out to the Colorado River State Historic Park and literally be the “Y” in Yuma. Share the picture with friends, family, and acquaintances nationwide over social media, encouraging them to come and visit Historic Yuma. You can learn how to join in with the fun at https://www.beyouma.org/.



The Colorado River State Historic Park held it's grand unveiling of the new "UMA" sign where guests get to be the "Y". This sign was created by Aztec High School students and Shanen Aranmor from Weld Like a Girl. This sign is designed to bring global awareness of Yuma and all our assets here! We encourage guests to take their "Y" photo and share what they love about Yuma! We also encourage all to use the hashtag #youma as YOU put the Y in Yuma!!

Thank you to the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce for hosting the ribbon cutting and being the first month sponsor of this wonderful sign! Post your photo on one of our social media pages, BeYouma and be entered for a chance to win a prize!

A major thank you to these donors! This project would not have happened if it wasn't for your generosity! Thank you for helping build a better Yuma!!

Fort Yuma Rotary, Yuma Rotary, Liberty Motor Sports and North End Rotary Club.

Follow us on all social media outlets @Beyouma and www.beyouma.org to learn about the monthly sponsors and the fun gifts you can win just by sharing your "Y"!

We have been working hard at the Colorado River State Historic Park. If you have visited recently, you will see that our sidewalk has been moved away from the Corral House. This is to prevent further erosion to the adobe foundation . We are implementing a new drainage system that will help filter the water away from the Corral House allowing us to maintain and preserve this historical structure!

Yuma Territorial Prison

When visiting the Yuma Territorial Prison, you may see this custom made black tarp on the iconic Sally Port. What is it doing? This tarp is helping to preserve this iconic piece of history from the potential monsoon weather we can receive during the summer months. We are hopeful that this will allow us time to continue our fundraising efforts to restore this piece which is the entrance into the prison! If you would like to donate, visit www.yumaprison.org. We appreciate your understanding and support!

Yuma East Wetlands

We would like to thank the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management for providing grant funding for two projects at the Yuma East Wetlands. Both of these projects concluded in March and allowed for the removal of invasive salt cedar and phragmites and the establishment of native wetland and riparian habitat within 17 acres, as well as the removal of brush and dead vegetation within 50 acres to reduce hazardous fuels. A big shout out to Quinn Rodney, our wetlands volunteer coordinator, and several volunteers, including a group of Young Marines, who generously donated their time to help clean up trash and remove cottonwood tree cages in preparation for the hazardous fuels removal project.

Welcome new YCNHA Team Members

Executive Assistant, Africa Luna Currasco

Africa Luna-Carrasco, born in Yuma, raised and lived in San Luis, AZ her entire life.

Africa is a first generation college graduate. In 2018, I obtained a bachelor degree in Public Administration (minor in Social Work with an emphasis on US/Mexico Border) from NAU-Yuma

Africa has provided administrative support in the public sector for over 25 years. Her previous employer was Yuma County, assigned to Aztec High School, where she was the Principal’s administrative assistant for seven years.

Africa is an active member of her community – currently a member of the San Luis City Council, Yuma County Library Board of Trustees, Colorado River Citizens Forum, and the Second Vice-Chair for the Yuma County Democratic Party.

She is the youngest of nine siblings; has two daughters; and, one grandson.

Natural Resources Program Manager, Jesus Melendrez

Jesus Melendrez a retired Marine Corps veteran with over 22 years Proven leadership and Operations Management. Jesus will lead our maintenance efforts in continuous improvements and future developments of the current Yuma East wetlands area.

In his previous role with the United Stated Marine Corps, Jesus Served as a Senior Operations Manager of various different types of units. He was responsible for the budgetary requirements, the personnel vetting and placement for operational commitments, the maintenance and accountability of over 10 million dollars in engineer equipment throughout the entire west coast and the strategic planning for engineer assets in accordance with long term and short-term planning efforts. In addition, he has held various other collateral duties to include but not limited to:

• Equal Opportunity Representative

• Security Manager

• Contract Officer Representative

• Future Operations Chief

• Demolitions Instructor

• Victim Advocate

• Instructor inspector

• Marine Corps Engineer Liaison for the West Coast

Jesus was part of the Operational team that Lead the Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 to the 2020 Squadron of the year title. He has been nominated 3 times as the Marine Corps Engineer of the year with several personal awards and achievements.

Jesus Melendrez studied Business Management at Saint Petersburg College, St Petersburg Fl. and graduated high School from Gadsden High School in Anthony, New Mexico. He has also received over 20 years of military education in Leadership, Planning, History, Management, Logistics, Engineering, Teaching and Philosophy.

Jesus has served in multiple Combat Operations throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. Operations Iraqi Freedom three times and Enduring freedom two times. His personal awards include The Department of Defense Meritorious Service Medal, The Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal (x3), The Navy and Marine Corps achievement medals (x3), the Good Conduct Medal (x7) and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

He is Husband of 21 Years To Jackeline Aurora Melendrez and father to Carlos Melendrez, Ramon Melendrez and Sebastian Melendrez.

Senior Finance Accountant, Maribel Hansen

Maribel Hansen has been living in Yuma for 14 years. She has a bachelor's degree in accounting with a specialty in financial management through UABC. She has been in accounting over 20 years. Maribel is proud to be a part of the Yuma community and has a passion for learning and serving the community. She is a current board member and serves a the treasurer of her church. Being a part of the Yuma Crossing NHA organization is motivation for personal growth.

Community Happenings

Congratulations to YCNHA Board Member, Linda Elliot-Nelson on being named Yuma’s AWHE’s (Arizona Women in Higher Education) Woman of the Year! To read more about this award, visit www.yumasun.com