Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Yuma's Martinez Lake Inspires Marines' Fond Memories

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Yuma's Martinez Lake Inspires Marines' Fond Memories

Article excerpt

Creating the right environment to promote a high quality of life for U.S. Marines has been an increasingly important mission for the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Department at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.

As the busiest air station in the Marine Corps, Yuma's operation tempo for the average marine is upbeat. Add to that the fact that nearly everyone is far from home, and time spent outside of work has a big say in morale and quality of life. Perhaps that is what makes MWR's Martinez Lake Recreation FaciLity one of the most valuabLe assets to the Yuma marines. As a place to relax, it is one of the best. In fact, Martinez Lake has become one of Arizona's premier outdoor retreats, attracting numerous active-duty personnel, retirees, dependents, and MWR employees.

Nestled 35 miLes north of the air station, Martinez Lake is one of the Last major Lakes on the southern end of the Colorado River. It is posiboned in Arizona's desert Lowland, faces the rim of CaLifornia's jagged ChocoLate Mountains, and is partiaLly surrounded by red volcanic piles. The take itself encompasses severaL thousand acres of water that form many channels and is covered by miles of marshy shoreline.

Relief for Our Military

Aside from its rich geographic makeup, Martinez Lake has a significant history. The lake was actually a by-product of the 1935 construction of the Imperial Dam, which was built for irrigation purposes. The Imperial Dam was the last dam project of the Boulder Act of the 1930s, part of President Roosevelt's famous Depression-era relief programs. Sixty years later, his project now provides relief for our military.

Dating back to the '50s, the lake has become an ideal place for outdoor recreation. The Marine Corps signed an agreement with local officials to create the air station's first outdoor recreation area in November 1964. Today, the recreational facility sits on a 13-acre peninsula - known as MWR Island by the regulars - in a prime location on the north side of the lake. The location is central, allowing good access to all lake and river outlets, yet offers plenty of privacy from other recreation-seekers oxide the camp.

Mike Castello, the facility's manager since 1986, feels confident that visitors who are looking for a place to relax will not be disappointed. "It's really a good atmosphere. The thing that makes us successful is the superb area. We're in the middle of the best part of the lake. We have staff that are very knowledgeable and can help get you what you're looking for. And we have great weather. Many months, it's 70 to 75 degrees," he said.

In keeping with its mission, MWR completed a $328,000 construction project earlier this year to expand and contemporize the Martinez resort, making it easier for all visitors to stay longer periods of time. Eight newly constructed RV park models (permanent trailers) and four new cabins are now available for use. The tworoom park models have new furnishings to sleep four, a complete kitchen area, separate bathroom facility, cable hookup, and a sliding door that leads to a private patio area with a barbecue. The three-room cabins are larger with furnishings to sleep eight and all the other features of the park models. All the cabins and park models face private coves on the lakefront.

Other types of facilities and gear are available, depending upon a visitor's needs. …

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