Posted: 5:42 p.m.
Over the last several years, the Yuma East Wetlands has seen a transformation.
A partnership between the Quechan Indian tribe, the City of Yuma, the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area and the Arizona Game and Fish Commission began the groundwork of bringing life back to part of the area surrounding the Colorado River.
"The area was overgrown and they used to have drug labs and those types of things. And people didn't go down there over the day, much less at night. And now you see a complete 180," said City of Yuma Administrator Greg Wilkinson.
Restoration work isn't finished yet.
While state and federal grants helped kick off the area's transformation, the Yuma East Wetlands needed funding to support conservation in the long term.
That is where a federal program (the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program) from the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation stepped in.
"It just became an obvious fit to us where we could meet our objectives by creating habitat up and down the river, but also allow the local partnership to maintain this site," said John Swett, program manager of the MSCP.
The program's goal is to preserve endangered species.
Because the land in question is owned by several stakeholders, including the City of Yuma and the Quechan Indian Tribe, funding to maintain restoration over the next several decades will be a joint effort from local, state and federal agencies.
"We're going to be spending about $450,000 a year in cash, plus some in-kind deference from the partners; and that's what it takes to maintain it," said Charles Flynn, executive director of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area.
The MSCP will pay for 70 percent of annual costs, while the Quechan Tribe, the city of Yuma, and the Yuma Crossing Heritage Area will each pay 10 percent.
The Yuma East Wetlands is a work in progress, and it will take several years to complete the restoration of the entire area.