Bluff Council approves two trust land water plans, opposes one

The Bluff Town Council approved a letter of opposition to one of three range improvement plans proposed on land near Bluff at their September 8 meeting.

The School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) is proposing three range improvement plans on trust land near the town of Bluff.

SITLA had originally asked for the San Juan County Commission to express their support for the three range improvement projects.

The commission did send a letter of approval for one of the projects, but after an appeal from Bluff Mayor Ann Leppanen, the commission deferred their support of the other projects to allow the town a chance to weigh-in.

The three projects in question include two drilled wells to benefit livestock in the area. One well would be at the Tank Bench Mesa and the other is the East League, Horn Pasture Project.

The final project is an upland game guzzler. The project will construct two wildlife drinking areas on the west side of the Bluff Bench. Each guzzler will include a 10-foot-by-12-foot apron that captures rainwater and feeds into a 500-gallon tank.

The town council was hesitant to support the projects that would drill wells into the area aquifer that supports the desert town.

After receiving an email from SITLA answering their questions about the projects, the council chose to support the Tank Bench Mesa and Wildlife Guzzler projects.

“This is something that’s going to be very useful for the cattleman and the wildlife,” Council member Jim Sayers said at the council meeting.

The council voted to oppose the East League, Horn Pasture Project.

“They’re drilling one because they don’t want to rip a pipeline,” Sayers said. “When we’re drilling into our aquifer, we want to think about why we’re doing that and we want to have a pretty substantial reason for doing that, and I don’t think [the East League, Horn Pasture Project] meets [that] higher standard.”

The letters will be included as part of public comment which SITLA will consider when making their decision.

At the September 8 meeting, the council also voted to move one of their meetings. Traditionally, the Bluff Town Council meets every first, second, and third Tuesday of the month.

With the first Tuesday in November being election day, they voted to move that meeting to the first Monday in November.

The council also discussed the Bluff Cemetery. Currently San Juan County provides three appointments to run the Bluff Cemetery board, but the Bluff Town Council hopes to move the board under their jurisdiction.

The board has run the cemetery without incident since 2005.

However, the board, which has a few thousand dollars in an account, has never filed a report with the state auditor.

Bringing the board under the town umbrella would allow the board to continue to function with the same duties, but allow the town council to make future appointments as needed and file reports with the state auditor.

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