Town of Bluff moves ahead in development of strategic plan milestones

by David Boyle
News Director
Members of the Bluff Town Council instituted a fire ban, made plans to bring back AmeriCorps volunteers, and received a report on a strategic plan for their town in recent meetings.
At their July 18 meeting, members of the Bluff Town Council discussed the possible return of the volunteer AmeriCorps group this winter.
In November 2021, the town of Bluff along with the county USU Extension and St. Christopher’s Mission, brought a group of ten volunteers in their early 20’s to the town of Bluff for six weeks.
The crew built 30 garden boxes to be housed at St. Christopher’s Mission, as well as clean-up projects suhch as trimming branches and eliminating noxious weeds.
Mayor Ann Leppanen reported that this year the town has the option to participate, with Moab nonprofit Community Rebuilds, to bring a crew of volunteers back for ten weeks.
While the Americorps volunteers will mostly work in the Moab Valley this winter, the Town of Bluff has the option to bring the group to Bluff for four weeks if they can provide housing.
Leppanen explained that last winter, housing was provided by St. Christopher’s Mission, but this year the town would need to provide housing.
Mayor Leppanen approached the council with an estimate of $4,000 for a four week stay at the Scorup house and asked if the council would be willing to pay the cost to host the volunteer crew this winter.
Despite some uncertainty around when or what the work may include, Council members voted unanimously to move forward on pursuing the project. 
Council member Brant Murray expressed support of the project. “After working with those guys last year that’s a good investment for the amount of work that will get done.
“...And I do want to put Community Rebuilds in our community the next year. I think that’ll put our foot in the door for that.”
Members of the town council also approved fire restrictions in the Town of Bluff at their July 18 meeting.
After talking with county fire officials, members of the Bluff Town Council learned that the state often likes to lead out on fire restrictions.
hile the county and state had not yet adopted fire restrictions, members of the Bluff Town Council voted to adopt fire restrictions at their July 18 meeting, as the council noted the heat, wind and dry fuels in southern San Juan County.
Restrictions are still in place and include the following:
• No open fires of any kind except within established public facilities or in permanently constructed fire pits at private homes where running water is present.
• No smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area that is paved or free from dry vegetation.
• No fireworks, tracer ammunition or other pyrotechnic devices including exploding targets.
• No cutting, welding or grinding metal in areas of dry vegetation.
• No operating a motorcycle, chainsaw, ATV, or other small internal combustion engine without an approved and working spark arrestor.
Members of the Town Council also celebrated the finalization of a conservation acquisition by the Wildlands Conservancy of a 320-acre parcel of private land within Bears Ears National Monument.
The 16-month effort between the conservancy and the Guymon family was finalized on July 15.
The council applauded the effort to protect the lands and noted that the Wildlands Conservancy is planning a celebration and formal recognition of the event is scheduled to occur on September 23rd.
Council members Jim Sayers joined others in the meeting expressing their thanks to those involved in the conservation project
“One of the main signatures of the town is the wash and Cottonwood Canyon is a major drainage into the San Juan. Its a major desert drainage and it’s just so beautiful and such a model for preservation. I think its fantastic.” 
Members of the town council also reviewed a draft of a strategic plan for the Town of Bluff drafted by Pathway Associates.
Presenting the strategic plan was Judith Oki and Julie DeLong of Pathway Associates. They explained over the past seven months, the town held group meetings, over 20 interviews, community surveys and a town hall meeting to put the plan together.
The plan also included engagement with Utah Diné Bikeyah. The organization shares ownership of the Cooperative Cultural Center.
Values identified for the town of Bluff include sustainability, community, culture, inclusive, ethical, transparent, and collaborative.
The presentation also identified three core strategies including mindful growth, improved livability, community connection and culture, and sustainable town government.
As part of reaching that vision of success by 2028, the presentation included 20 milestones to compete by 2024, 13 for 2026, and 8 for 2028.
Examples include hiring two positions for fire and emergency services by 2024, as well as creating a water department by 2024.
Milestones in 2026 include creating a tailored incident action plan, and developing a sustainability vision and plan
Milestones in 2028 include creating a justice court, code enforcement, appeals process and fines and collections, as well as a recycling drop off/ reuse/recycling consumer goods
The presentation also included a strategic leadership plan with ten goals.
Council members thanked Pathway Associates for their work on the project. Council member Luanne Hook shared that the timing for the project was just right.
“We’re pushing on five years now and with you coming into the system you brought in a whole bunch more community members.
“There are a lot of people that joined us and our working on different parts. We have five people running for the two seats on our commission so we have the support to keep pushing along.”
Council members echoed that the plan including the milestones would help guide the council into the future even as council members Jim Sayers and Brant Murray are not seeking an additional term on the council.
The Town of Bluff has five candidates for two seats in the upcoming municipal election.
Candidates will be narrowed from a field of five to four as part of a September 5 primary, with a general election to follow on November 21.
Candidates include Jennifer Davila, Michael W. Yearous, Wes Shook, Britt Hornsby, and Gary Lichtenstein.
Members of the Bluff Town Council also met on August 1st in Bluff but a power outage minutes into the meeting resulted in limited business. Council also met on August 8 after the San Juan Record print deadline.

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