McCain Introduces Bill To Extend Heritage Area For 15 years

Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 10:30 pm | Updated: 3:14 pm, Mon Mar 17, 2014.

By Joyce Lobeck, Yuma Sun staff writer

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced legislation Wednesday that would extend congressional authorization of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area for another 15 years through 2030.

Congressmen Raul Grijalva, D- Ariz., and Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., introduced the companion bill in the House of Representatives.

 The Yuma City Council and Yuma County Board of Supervisors both recently approved resolutions supporting the reauthorization. The resolutions state that congressional action is needed so the Heritage Area can continue to serve the community and be eligible for National Park Service funds.

Over the last decade, the Heritage Area has been the lead agency for the transformation of Yuma’s riverfront, which includes the development of the West Wetlands, Gateway Park, Yuma East Wetlands and the multi-use pathway system now enjoyed by bicycle riders and walkers. The agency also has coordinated the city’s efforts to encourage private investment in the revitalization of the historic downtown. Most recently, it has taken on the management of the Yuma Territorial Prison and Quartermaster Depot state parks on behalf of the city.

“Speaking on behalf of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area board of directors, I am most grateful that Sen. John McCain and Congressmen Ed Pastor and Raul Grijalva are supporting reauthorization in a bi-partisan manner,” said Charles Flynn, executive director of the Heritage Area. “They see the importance of maintaining all the progress along Yuma’s riverfront, whether in wetlands restoration or saving our state historic parks. This vote of confidence will go a long way in continuing our efforts for decades to come.”

The Heritage Area was the first to be established west of the Mississippi and was designated to preserve and share the history of the Yuma Crossing at a local level. The effort involves a broad coalition of local businesses, farmers, the Quechan Indian Tribe, and local, state and federal governmental agencies.

“The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area is one of Arizona’s great treasures, and I am proud to introduce legislation to extend its authorization for the next 15 years,” said McCain. “First authorized in 2000, it has grown into a collaborative effort by local, tribal and federal partners to transform the city of Yuma downtown riverfront area and restore the banks of the Colorado River. The Yuma Crossing NHA is proving to be a success story, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this legislation.”

He continued, “As a testament to its successes, the National Park Service has downgraded the Yuma Crossing historic landmark from ‘threatened’ to ‘watch’ status. However, more work remains to be done. For example, the Yuma East Wetlands project has secured a funding commitment from non-federal parties for the next 50 years. Because NHA’s have an authorization period of 15 years, it’s critical that Congress reauthorize the Yuma Crossing NHA before the end of fiscal year 2015 so that this effort continues uninterrupted.”