Bluff, 4River Foundation, and Discovery Center will fight cane along San Juan River

By Joe Boyle,
Staff Writer
The Town of Bluff and Canyon Country Discovery Center are partnering on a grant to clean up the giant cane plant in the area.
The 4River Foundation is a Four-Corners-based foundation giving out grants to communities in the area for the purpose of river restoration and maintenance. The money being provided through this organization comes from corporate partners. 
Dave Bastain, director of Youth Corps for Canyon Country Discovery, made a pitch for the partnership with Bluff and approval of the grant at the June 7 meeting of the Bluff Town Council.
The grant would be for $10,000. Bastian doesn’t believe that this would completely cover the cost of clearing out the giant cane plant along the San Juan River, but it would be a great start and could lead to a very positive relationship.
“Ten grand would give us a little over two weeks of work, so obviously we’re not gonna solve the problem in that time,” said Bastian. “But will also introduce this potential partnership with Canyon Country and Bluff to the 4Rivers organization.” 
While an official application for the grant has not been sent to the 4River organization, Bastian has done some preliminary work on the application. He said his interest has been met with very positive reception by the director of the organization. 
The giant cane referenced as the point of concern is somewhat of a nightmare plant for areas like Bluff. The low roots make the plant easy to be washed away, causing blockages in rivers and creeks. It is also highly flammable. 
The proposal was met with complete support from the Bluff Town Council with a unanimous vote in support of the application for the grant. 
Town Council Members will take a look over the proposal put together by Bastian and make any edits they see fit. The plan is to send off the application on June 14.
The Bluff Town Council also came to a conclusion on what fire restrictions they will implement. 
The State of Utah has placed the San Juan county area in the Stage Two restriction plan. This, however, only accounts for unincorporated lands in the area, so towns and cities had to choose a stage on their own. 
Bluff followed in the footsteps of the state and unanimously voted on following fire restrictions outlined in Stage Two. 
Stage One restrictions, which are also encompassed in Stage Two restrictions, include no open fires besides in established areas or fire pits at homes with running water, no smoking except in an enclosed space or developed recreation site free of dry vegetation, no fireworks, tracer ammunition or exploding targets, no metal work near dry vegetation, and no operating with small internal combustion engines without approval.
Stage Two includes these restrictions, as well as no open fires of any kind. Stoves, compressed or liquid gas grills and fire pits are allowed. 
Celebrate Cedar Mesa events will be held in the Bluff Community Center.
Due to public health concerns, despite having the capability to hold up to 300 people, the Bluff community center has had a 75-person limit on who can be in the building. The Celebrate Cedar Mesa events expect to see between 250 and 300 people. 
Celebrate Cedar Mesa was prepared to hold events in Blanding, but the town council unanimously voted to allow the space to be used despite the exceeding of the current cap in place. 
Town council member Luanne Hook proposed to possibly remove this limit on the space, as well as a promise that this space would be available regardless of possible changes in the current pandemic. Mayor Ann Leppanen opposed this. 
“We control the right for public safety to cancel a contract,” said Leppanen. “Would we do it without any input from FCM (Friends of Cedar Mesa) or anybody? No, but I’m not willing to vote to say that it’s up to the person coming in or the group coming in to make that decision.” 
It was decided that discussions to abolish the cap would take place next time a group approaches the town to hold an event that exceeds the current cap. 
Plans to build a solar plant with AES are still in motion. If any Bluff residents have concerns or input with the project they can reach out to communityinquireiers@aes.com
The Town of Bluff has also been working on a potential food pantry grant. Mayor Leppanen says the project is moving forward, but it’s a very complicated process so it will take time. 
The town council also unanimously approved updates to the 2022 budget as well as the tentative 2023 budget.

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