Bluff seeks to protect geoglyph near west-side gravel site

The Bluff Town Council is working to protect a geoglyph located near a state-leased gravel site in Bluff.

The site is located north of the town beyond Seventh West. Protection of the site has been a focus of community members for the past few years.

While petroglyphs and pictographs are located on the side of a rock wall, geoglyphs are located on the ground.

Bluff Mayor Ann Leppanen said the geoglyph can be hard to see. “It looks like a rubble pile of stones and bush,” said Leppanen, “but when you look from west to the east there’s a long linear formation on the ground.”

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has told the town council they don’t have any immediate plan to use the gravel site located on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property on the northwest end of Bluff.

In communications with Mayor Leppanen, UDOT officials also have said they would work to mitigate impacts to the surrounding area if they ever developed the site for gravel extraction.

At the same time UDOT communicated they are not eager to give up a right-of-way in an area where gravel is scarce.

UDOT officials recently visited the site to see if it should be used as part of the upcoming maintenance project on Utah Highway 162 between Aneth and Bluff.

The town council created a work group made up of community members to provide alternative sites to the BLM and UDOT in order to prevent the site on Seventh West from being developed.

Bluff resident Mary Gillam is a geologist actively involved in the project. Gillam has been working to identify other areas where UDOT could pull gravel. She believes she has found several sites that could work, including some located near Highway 162.

State law is such that the town has little say in how and where gravel collection takes place, but the town is hopeful to find a workable solution for all entities involved.

In the month of December, the Bluff Town Council also continued exploration into improvement programs through Community Development Block Grants.

Possibilities under consideration include remodeling the interior of the community center, updating kiosks in town, and maintenance of the Bluff Great House.

One item under serious consideration regards the new trail system that will run along the San Juan River in Bluff. The town is considering using grant funding to make at least a portion of the trail accessible for those with disabilities.

To make the trail ADA accessible, the city could use a Community Development Block Grant or a grant from the Utah Office of Outdoors.

Additionally, in December the Town of Bluff finalized their audit, as well as voted to switch to Emery Telcom internet. The addition of high-speed fiber in Bluff was announced at the end of November.

The town council is also working out details to hire a part time position to aid with necessary town functions.

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