Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Comments on the Bluff Presentation

Today we presented the Bluff document to six individuals from different Utah based backgrounds. Of the comments that were made the ones listed below were of most interest:

  • Navajo entreprenuers who are talented and seeking Night Sky and Heritage tourism opportunities - This comment, or the information held in it, could help resolve loads of the concerns and issues that arose for Bluff residents.
    • Examples of this are:
      • Jobs in Bluff: If Navajo entreprenuers started running businesses in Bluff they would need employees for those jobs = solution to creating more jobs in Bluff
      • Youth in Bluff: The more jobs in bluff the more kids would have things to entertain themselves and places to work. The increase of jobs would ultimately lead to more entertainment pieces in Bluff = more sustained youth populations and more family friendly.
      • Manage Controlled Growth: What we found was that the Navajo people generally shared similar values and beliefs about the area that the Bluff residents held. If the economic growth was coming from those holding similar values then the businesses that those individuals ran would also share those values = growth that is in line with the values of Bluff residents.
      • Food Desert: Bluff is a food desert, but with the infusion of Navajo businesses and younger more diverse ideas comes the solution to this problem and the work force/ideas to overcome this and other issues. = More business people means more niches they look to fill, and with food being a large problem this would potentially be one of the first niches filled.
      • Tourism in Bluff: The number 1 thing tourists said they wanted was grocery stores. With the previous bullet resolved this want/need of tourists is resolved. In addition to that though would be more entertainment pieces, locally owned restaurants, hotels, and other businesses which would keep things local and allow the growth and activities the tourists are seeking.
      • Incorporation Funding: This is an issue, but with the increased business tax revenue and tourist revenue this could help elongate the tourist season and the amount collected during the season. This would help ease the financial burden that incorporation potentially brings.
Honestly I feel I could go on forever with just this first point that was made as it could help to resolve issues and challenges on the side of the Navajo Nation and the area of Bluff.
  • How do new residents and growth impact the dark sky ordinances
    • This was an interesting point. As growth occurs ultimately more light would come, but as long as ordinances were in place to help manage the type of light and (potentially open up another business niche) lighting that came they could maintain their dark sky while also improving their economy.
  • Representation of the Navajo community
    • One of the students in the class that went down during the arts festival pushed to try and get input from Navajo individuals, but most didn't return their surveys leaving this piece of the puzzle untouched. I don't know if the rest of the class felt the same way but I felt/feel blind to the wants and needs of the Navajo Nation, and with what Gavin said in class, it sounds like the Navajo Nation and the area of Bluff need each other desperately. They both have assets that the other could greatly use and it sounds like the two communities need to really start discussing solutions together.
  • FDA loans for food production and distribution
    • Going back to the food desert above, this could help fund a Navajo initiated grocery store/green house start up business in Bluff. These ideas need to be shared between the two communities as I feel they share similar concerns and challenges.
  • Protect natural environment and authenticity of place
    • If Bluff does grow (and it will inevitably do so with Bear's Ears National Monument), and they don't have ordinances in place to manage and protect that growth they will lose their town to others. That is what has happened to all of the negative precedent communities we observed, and that growth often happens a lot quicker than the communities thought it would.
This process has been great and has taught me a lot about the listening process of community planning.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Short, Medium, and Long Term Goals for Bluff

In our document we outline some of the potential strategies for these things, and I am excieted to see what path Bluff takes in a lot of these areas.

Short Term Goals:

  • “Build a Community Vision”
    • Hold community outreach meetings regarding incorporation (discuss possibilities and concerns)
    • Complete the incorporation checklist (included in this document)
    • Complete the official incorporation process if approved by community
    • Determine the type of Governance that best suits the community
    • Explore financing strategies for funding municipal government
    • Revise and update the General Plan and community vision
      • Create strategies for:
        • Affordable Housing
        • Waste Management
        • Alternative Transportation
        • Alternative Energy
        • Economic Development
        • Cultural Diversity and Inclusion
        • Adult and Childhood Education
        • Food Accessibility
        • Tourism Development
Medium Term Goals:
  • “Actualizing the Vision”
    • Create community ordinances and regulations to guide community development
      • Zoning Ordinances*
      • Growth boundaries
      • Development Standards (dark sky, architectural, etc.)
    • Enable plan for affordable housing development that can withstand the forces and pressures of gentrification and growth
    • Implement a waste management plan that includes maintaining the current septic waste system or replacing it with a waste management facility.
    • Implement alternative transportation strategies along major roads and transportation corridors (bi-cycle lanes, hiking paths, etc.)
    • Implement alternative energy strategies that best function for the community
    • Encourage local entrepreneurship by increasing mixed-use developments.
    • Diversify the economic base of the community to foster resilience
    • Promote diverse community relations that regularly include and interact with surrounding cultures
    • Strengthen support for local art and culture
    • Implement strategies that ensure high quality and stable education for both children and adults throughout in the community and the surrounding areas.
    • Begin implementation of transition strategies that increase local food accessibility
    • Expand affordable internet and cell phone coverage to meet the current and future needs of the community.
    • Develop strategic alliances to increase local access to high quality preventative healthcare
    • Implement tourism strategies that encourage development that is sustainable across the social, economic, and environmental structures of the community.
    • Continually plan for and embrace expanded tourist seasons
    • Use economic, social, and environmental marketing strategies to attract younger demographics to the community.
    • Maintain a healthy and welcoming environment that accommodates the growing senior population in the community.
Long Term Goals

  • “Managing Growth and Development”
    • Regularly evaluate and revise the community vision, general plan, and guiding ordinances in order to maintain unity within the community
  • Maintain a transparent and engaged system of government that constantly looks to the community for guidance
  • Develop community relationships that continually engage with voices from the surrounding regions and cultures
  • Manage and adapt economic development strategies that ensure economic success and reinforce the community vision
  • Guide sustainable tourism development by discouraging development that exceeds the social, economic, and environmental carrying capacities of the community
  • Continually search for ways to better provide meaningful childhood and adult educational experiences for community members

Monday, November 14, 2016

Design for the Bluff Document

In class we were divided up into three groups the editing, infill, and visual group. I wanted to be a part of the editing group because I have extensive experience in InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, GIS, and other graphic art programs.

I have also been working in graphic design for 10 + years and enjoy this part of the work. We were all tasked to find templates that would show the character of Bluff and report back. After sorting through the group's 10 or so templates we decided upon a magazine style InDesign template and I made a first pass at adjusting the template so that we could begin putting the edited text, images, and content together for the Bluff document.

I feel the document captures the clean side of a planning document as well as the culture, landscape and feel of the community. (See color scheme below). I personally spent upwards of 40 hours editing the document text, graphics, layout etc and hope Bluff will find it useful in their efforts to further guide and shape their future.

Color Scheme:
912D4B - D Burgundy 145 45 75
B56C7E - L. Burgundy 181 108 126
9DB52C - Bright Sage 157 181 28
C1D970 - Light Sage 193 217 112
025657 - Dark Turquoise 2 86 87
1E979C - Light Turquoise 30 151 156
D96C0D - Burnt Orange 217 108 13

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

History of Bluff through the Eyes of Tori and Her Grandmother

When I visited Bluff I got a brief history of its settlement by the pioneers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints through the eyes one of the ladies who worked at the twin rocks cafe's grandmother.

She told me that her grandmother remembered the day the pioneers came into the valley. Some with handcarts others with wagons. They were peaceful and had loads of hardships with the land and agriculture. She told me that the Native Americans sought to help the pioneers and that in turn the pioneers did everything they could to reciprocate that help. There wasn't much they could do to help the natives, but they did their best anyway.

She said that when the pioneers first settled the area there was a lot more collaboration between the two communities and that collaboration has continued but isn't as strong as it once was.

She told me stories about how the pioneers set up wells and that the Navajo people would cross a bridge to get water for their families each day. She told me about how Navajo and pioneers planted the waiting tree and how it became the waiting tree. It was apparently along the trail into Bluff and a great place for both communities to stand and wait for work as employers entered the area.

She told me how the waiting tree slowly lost its prominence in the town as times change. She also told me about how the Navajo Nation received their own wells and didn't have to cross the bridge into town anymore for water. That was the time/day when the two communities didn't seem so dependent on each other anymore.

She told me about the day when the reservation received electricity (actually only a few years earlier.) Her kids would ask about what it was like before electricity and she would reply that she didn't know. It was just different, things would take longer, but we stayed entertained and life was good.

These are just a few of the rich stories that the residents of Bluff and the Navajo Nation have to offer. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Checklist of Town Incorporation

This week we discussed a checklist for Bluff to be able to incorporate. Below are the necessary things that Bluff needs to accomplish in order to become incorporated as a town:

State of Utah incorporation process:
  • A contiguous area not within a municipality may incorporate
  • Request feasibility study from the Lt. Governor:
  • Describe proposed area for town
  • Include accurate map by licensed surveyor
  • Five signers as sponsors, one primary

Lt. Gov Feasibility study:
  • Bluff Community selects consultant from recommended list
  • Consultant completes and submits study to Lt. Governor
Study Considerations:
  • Population and density
  • Surrounding area
  • Five-year projections of demographics and economics
  • Proposed town: household size, industrial and commercial development
  • Projected five-year growth
  • Five-year projection of cost
  • Proposed governmental services (complete list available - following are examples)
    • Law enforcement
    • Fire protection
    • Roads and public works
    • Garbage
    • Culinary water
    • Sewer
    • Secondary water
    • Government offices
    • Noxious weeds
    • (No proposed change in Bluff requested services)
  • Projection of revenue and expenses based on services requested
  • If five-year revenues exceed five-year expenses by more that 10%
  • We may move forward to a public hearing

Public Hearing:
  • Posted in newspaper, on websites, legal notices- 45 days or less
  • Map of boundaries
  • Results of study
  • Public comment
  • File for incorporation with certified petition

General Election:
  • General election is held.
  • A majority of registered voters in proposed area voting in favor means Bluff will be incorporated
Simply going through the checklist a few things stood out to me as important things that Bluff may want to place higher priorities on:
  • Feasibility study - needs to ensure that all costs and financial obligations will be met with an undeniable level of certainty. Including fire, roads, law enforcement, garbage, culinary water, sewer, and government offices. As well as viable five-year projected "growth" and future leadership.
  • Proposed area for town - needs to be validated and have unquestionable ability to be maintained. 
In solidifying all the needed information for these two pieces success of the future incorporated Bluff.

Monday, September 26, 2016

My Trip to Bluff

Some of the Bluff Influences:
  • Melvin Gain
  • Gene whoshay
  • Pat cook
  • Steve Simpson
  • Jim Hook
  • Cindy and Amer Tomay
  • Marx Powell
  • Toni

Interview with Lynn Stevens: (
President of the Hole in the Rock Foundation

  • Lynn Stevens Information:
    • County Commissioner for 8 years worked for the county for more
  • SITLA Property:
    • This land is a piece of the Pioneer Trail
    • SITLA Land purchase is intended to be a venue for Youth Conferences and allowing individuals and groups to hike the pioneer trail.
    • Difficulty with land management to hike, they want to buy part of the Hole in the Rock Trail to accommodate large groups.
    • They are opposed to “developing” the land or making any structural improvements on the land.
    • “The land is already representative of what we want.” The SITLA property is meant to give history and education of the pioneers who came to Bluff.
  • Hole in the Rock Foundation:
    • Private Non-profit organization
    • The LDS Church has no ownership, sponsorship or backing.
    • The only influence the church has is sending LDS Historical Couples to maintain the fort. The couples do not hand out any literature (Book of Mormon, Pass along cards, pamphlets, etc) nor are they allowed to proselyte.
    • Bluff residents volunteer and greet tourists and inform them of area attractions
    • 200 Acres (390 Acres private information)
    • HIRF members are direct descendants of the Bluff Pioneers
    • Corrinne, the previous HIRF President, purchased lots of land in Bluff so others wouldn’t come in and build vacation homes.
  • Bluff Cemetery:
    • Lynn Steven’s Grandfather was the first person buried there
    • HIRF owns a large portion of the cemetery. They purchased it to keep it in Bluff ownership and “undevelopable land.” They wanted it to stay part of the cemetery.
    • The Deed is in the name of the HIRF  
  • Bluff Fort:
    • They have already had over 30K visitors and are expecting that number to rise over 50K by the end of the year.
    • Those visitors have come from 54 different countries, and every state in the US.
    • Bluff Fort highlights the international tourists data
    • Sign in and comments information
      • Data and information on why visitors come to the Fort and Bluff
    • All of the people who work at the Bluff Fort are 8 month volunteers.
  • Bluff Information:
    • Green Built Property Tax is low and most of Bluff is Green Built Property
    • Questions about water rights
    • 80% occupancy in hotels throughout the year
    • Tax Base
    • No road maintenance equipment
    • Potential funding issues
    • “There are limits to the Transit Tax, it has to be spent for tourism.”
  • Castle Valley Incorporated
    • Castle Valley may be a good precedence
  • Moab leveraged what they have and made the grew their economy and town around it.
    • Make tourists more comfortable
    • 50+ years to get there

Interview with Toni:
Navajo Mother and Employee at the Twin Rocks Cafe

  • Toni:
    • She was born in 1962 and has lived here her whole life
    • They got electricity on the reservation four years ago
    • She grew up without it and her kids would ask what she did to pass the time before electricity.
    • They used to come to Bluff for water because there was no water source on the reservation. They would come across the bridge and leading into Bluff and get their water then walk/take it back to their homes
    • The Navajo Nation use to take up part of Bluff but Bluff took over that portion. It was Melvin Gain, (Cross the man with no shoes so named by the Navajo Nation) who has lived in Bluff his entire life of 92 years, was the one that said where the original boundary was and had the adjustment made to bring the boundary closer to what it had been. Because of that they gave him a name. Be careful though he cusses and is very opinionated.
    • The road in front of the Twin Rocks Cafe used to be the main road until they built 191 through the town.
    • I don’t like have to haul our sewage out.
    • There used to be a bridge to leading from the Navajo Nation to Bluff
    • Grandmother Saw the Pioneers come into the area with their wagons. Grandmother had tons of stories.
    • She has loads of stories and loves to tell them.

Interview with Mr. Simpson: ()
Owner of Twin Rocks Cafe

  • Comments:
    • “It's a mess we already have to haul our sewage.”
    • "I don’t want McDonald's on the corner, but I'd like to know a little more about sewer systems.”
    • He wants to be careful with sewers not just to protect his business but the town
    • He was born in Bluff but moved to Blanding because it is a better place to raise his kids and for his family. “We moved to Blanding for our children.”
  • Steve Simpson:
    • Involved in the Political side of Bluff
    • Served on the State and County Water Board
    • Served on the Service District and the Health Care Board
    • Also an Attorney

General Notes:

  • Night Sky Festival
    • Spring Festival
    • Fall Festival
    • Petroglyphs representing the Night Sky
    • Dark Sky Initiative relationship
    • Night Sky Viewing (Night Services for the festival)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Final Town Precedent Examples

The reason we use precedents in planning is because we want to know if what we are trying or attempting to try has been done before, and if it has been successful in the process. Ultimately we want to find things similar to what we are studying in order to have a better idea of potential outcomes to the solutions we are seeking to incorporate.

As we went through this process the precedent group narrowed down our results to nine towns that could be used as precedents for Bluff. Although there are many others I would like to have included in this document only the most refined could be included. Below are the towns that were included:
(See the Matrix below for how Bluff should evaluate these precedents.)
  • Barrow, AK (which I previously discussed and posted information about)
  • Bar Harbor, ME (also previously discussed)
  • Boulder, UT
    • Population: 223
    • Economy: Tourism
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1958)
    • Location: Near Grand Staircase-Escalante National 
    • Monument
  • Deadwood, SD
    • Population: 1,270
    • Economy: Tourism
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1876)
    • Location: In the heart of Black Hills National Forest, 
    • and near Custer State Park.
  • Estes Park, CO
    • Population: 5,858
    • Economy: Tourism (Outdoor Recreation)
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1917)
    • Location: Near Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Ketchum, ID
    • Population: 2,680
    • Economy: Tourism
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1880)
    • Location: Near Sawtooth National Forest
  • Springdale, UT
    • Population: 529
    • Economy: Tourism
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1959) Mayoral
    • Location: Entrance to Zion National Park
  • Torrey, UT
    • Population: 182

    • Economy: Tourism
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1934)

    • Location: Gateway to Capitol Reef National Park
  • Wallace, ID
    • Population: 784
    • Economy: Tourism
    • Government Type: Incorporated (1800’s)
    • Location: Near Coeur d’Alene National Forest
Each of these precedents were chosen for their unique qualities and how they could be observed to help Bluff further their asperations. In addition I created this precedent matrix in order to help make our document more reader friendly and easier to interpret for the town of Bluff.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Dark Sky Initiative

I started the Dark Sky research and probably put in 10 - 15 hours searching through ordinances and trying to better understand Bluff's capability for Dark Sky, what they would achieve by doing it, and general ordinance information. Below is a small portion of what I was able to find.

Bluff’s Dark Sky Capability:

  • Retention of Community Character
  • Residents want dark skies
  • Still in a place that lighting can be controlled and curbed
  • Petroglyphs that are sky related
  • Huge participation in tribal nations
  • Amenity West Community
  • Promote dark skies at the arts festival and other festivals
  • House of the Moon on Cedar Mesa

Ordinance Information:

  • Lighting
    • Type
      • Externally illuminated signs (ban on internally illuminated)
      • Down lit and back lit signs
      • Blue spectrum
      • *Look at Ketchum ordinance - fully shielded, downward directed, blue spectrum
    • Location
      • Residential
      • Governmental
      • Commercial
    • Reuse automobile pieces and scraps for lighting fixtures
  • Promote externally illuminated down lit and back lit signs, and use the words community character to help associate the lighting with the character of the place. (see Sabastisopal, CA and Golita CA)
  • AMA blue spectrum street lighting - Street lighting has to be a certain kind
  • Reasons for Ordinance
    • Economic Development - in family friendly manner
    • Retention of Community Character
    • Dark Skies for our children and our children’s children
    • Private Property Rights - Light Trespassing 
City Codes:

  • Go Beyond the Ogden Model
  • Summerland, CA
  • East Hampton Long Island
  • Sabastopal, CA
  • Golita, CA
  • Sedona - Sedona potentially did right what Moab missed on the lighting aspect

 Things To Consider:

  • Wildlife
  • Identify businesses in Bluff that already have dark sky lighting
  • Light trespassing
  • Bears Ears biggest national monument larger than Rhode Island
  • Astro Tourism Dollars
  • Colorado Dark Sky Cooperative - Astro Tourism dollars increase because it adds a night stay and a crowd shift to night time - see Fort Collins
  • Dark Sky Initiative Ordinance Guidelines - Historic, Golden, and Test Case they want to take it to other communities
  • What communities currently have a ban on  internally illuminated signs?

Dark Sky Initiative Locations:

  • Grand Canyon
  • Capitol Reef?
  • Hovenweep National Monument?
  • Natural Bridges National Monument?
  • Canyonlands National Park?
  • Dead Horse Point State Park?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Town Precedents for Bluff

After spending a few weeks researching towns that could serve as precedents for Bluff I was joined by four other to form the precedent group. In the preliminary research I did I compiled a list of over 50 towns that could potentially be considered in this process. Of those towns we each selected four that could be used for the final Bluff document. Below are the four towns I carefully selected to serve as precedents for Bluff.

Bar Harbor, Maine

  • Settled in 1763 (by Europeans)
  • Population of 5,264 in 2014
  • Close to several State and National Parks 
  • Large range of attractions (Biking, Hiking, Kayaking, Mountain Climbing, Nature Cruise, Shelling, Lighthouses, Whale Seal and Bird Watching, & Parks)
  • Tourism based economy

Bar Harbor vs Bluff

  • Strong tourism element to economy
  • Similar school structure
  • Students bussed/shipped in from surrounding towns
  • Dark Sky Initiative
  • Native American Historical Influence

Barrow, Alaska

  • Settled in 1825 (by Europeans 500 AD by Inuit Group)
  • Population of 4,384 in 2013
  • Host of Several Festivals (Kivgiq, Piuraagiaqta, Nalukataq, Whaling, & Qitik)
  • Unpaved roads and based on the Septic System
  • Oil operations and Tourism based economy

Barrow vs Bluff

  • Septic Tank Based Infrastructure
  • Seeking to incorporate the Dark Sky Initiative
  • Tourism economy based on Festivals
  • Historical foundation in very similar time periods

Dorset, Minnesota

  • Settled in 1898
  • Population of 22 in 2010
  • Unincorporated community
  • Booming Tourism Based Economy
  • Services supported by County

Dorset vs Bluff

  • Strong tourism element to economy
  • Tourism drawn in by uniqueness
  • Similar community make up
  • Stores and Shops run by Locals
  • Outdoor Activities (Biking Tours)

Medora, North Dakota

  • Settled in 1883
  • Population of 112 in 2010
  • Close to Theodore Roosevelt National Park
  • Incorporated despite size
  • Historic Town

Medora vs Bluff

  • Strong tourism element to economy
  • Historic Sites, Events, and Festivals
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Very Similar town structure & Community Make up (Lodging, Services, Relationship to National Parks)
  • Stores and Shops run by Locals

Sustainability News

Check back for more news later


I just wanted to take a moment to send a personal message out to all those in the fields of Landscape Architecture, Gardening, Horticulture, and Urban Planning/Urban Ecology. I created Landscape Connections for the purpose to share my love and passion for Landscape Architecture and Design, and Urban Ecology. I was a Landscape Architecture Major at Utah State University and currently study Urban Ecology at the University of Utah. I am working to compile as much information in the four previously mentioned fields as possible. If you have any further information, or would like to either add information or see information posted to landscape connections please let me know.