“The holier-than-thou” Bluff community, who supposedly worship the land and environment, seems to be worshipers of free money as well. Not only does Bluff harbor the environmental tourism group known as the Friends of Cedar Mesa, but they are collecting a lot of money from the Community Impact Fund (CIB), a program that is funded by income from oil and gas extraction. 

by Marjorie Haun

Bluff, Utah, once known as the first settlement of the “Hole in the Rock” pioneers, has been overtaken in recent years by transplants and locals who’ve bought into the promises of industrial tourism. Recently incorporated and now run by folks whose future vision for Bluff is a tourism-only economy, the town is an island of left-wing ideology in a county still dominated by conservatives, agriculture, and natural resources-based industries.

One high-profile and controversial environmentalist group, Friends of Cedar Mesa, has located its headquarters in Bluff. Irking San Juan County residents at every turn, Friends of Cedar Mesa is associated with radical environmentalist corporations, and a few crazed activists. One of the founders of Friends of Cedar Mesa, Rose Chilcoat, was caught in 2017 attempting to kill cattle on Lime Ridge by closing a gate, preventing them from getting to their water source.

A midden of environmental activism, Bluff is undergoing a fundamental transformation with new hotels and restaurants springing up, hoping to get fat off the tourist industry. Friends of Cedar Mesa has been at the forefront of lobbying for increased tourist opportunities in southeastern Utah, most notably, the recent push to reestablish and expand the now-defunct Bears Ears National Monument. Tourism has become yet another rationale for locking up federally-controlled lands with new wilderness area, national monuments, and other restrictive designations.

Corporate environmentalism and industrial tourism go hand in hand, and in Bluff, the same enviros who embrace the anti-fossil fuel policies of the extreme left, are enjoying a financial boon from the very industry they are trying to destroy.

One San Juan County local, Ted Powell, has taken notice that Bluff’s hypocrisy is showing. He wrote in a recent commentary:

“The holier-than-thou” Bluff community, who supposedly worship the land and environment, seems to be worshipers of free money as well. Not only does Bluff harbor the environmental tourism group known as the Friends of Cedar Mesa, but they are collecting a lot of money from the Community Impact Fund (CIB), a program that is funded by income from oil and gas extraction. 

Bluff not only got a lot of improvements from the CIB, but they are also creating a town where Native Americans take a back seat to rich ecotourists. While Bluff enjoys CIB Funds, a majority in the town support efforts by the Friends of Cedar Mesa to sue the federal government and shut down future oil and gas industry opportunities that the CIB could use to help others in the county.

Below is a table showing the millions Bluff has received from 2001-2016.

Although these monies went to Bluff before the town was incorporated, one could argue that the incorporation itself–not to mention new hotels, restaurants and other tourist destinations–would all be impossible without the millions from the fossil fuel industry.

Ted’s commentary continues:

Now that you have the money, you want to kill oil and gas, thus cutting off the rest of the county from receiving any funding from CIB. You would eliminate our diverse economy, and starve the county into the tourism business. Bluff you are great showmen, but in reality you are huge hypocrites trying to destroy San Juan County and America.

A recent article in the San Juan Record bolsters Ted’s assertion that Bluff and the county in general, have benefited greatly to this point from CIB oil and gas monies. The article states:

Oil and gas leases on federal land have helped fund more than $58.8 million in projects in San Juan County since 2010. 

From the new water and sewer system in Spanish Valley to a new fire truck in Monticello and from flood mitigation efforts in Bluff to new health care facilities in Blanding, revenue from the oil and gas leases significantly impact community infrastructure in San Juan County.

The Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund, known as the CIB, is funded by revenues from oil and gas leases on public lands. The funds are distributed for projects in the counties which generate the oil and gas leases.

San Juan Record graphic

The report continues:

Between 2014 and 2018, revenues from federal leases in Utah totaled $529 million. Nearly half of the revenues were placed in the CIB.

A large number of San Juan County projects have been funded by the CIB. While oil and gas leases in San Juan County contributed nearly $7 million to the CIB, the CIB funded more than $25 million in projects in the county over the five year period.

And to Ted’s point:

Oil and gas leases are not without controversy. The Friends of Cedar Mesa, a Bluff-based group, recently filed lawsuit in federal court challenging oil and gas leases on BLM ground in 2018.

Friends of Cedar Mesa is another among countless Sierra Club clones putting down roots in small western towns, whose delusions of tourism grandeur eclipse reasoning, and who actually believe life will be better without oil and gas. As far as we know, these groups still use vehicles with internal combustion engines, and thanks to the wonders of coal and natural gas-generated electricity, they enjoy their hot vegan burgers and cold microbrews.


Free Range Report

Thank you for reading our latest report, but before you go…

Our loyalty is to the truth and to YOU, our readers!
We respect your reading experience, and have refrained from putting up a paywall and obnoxious advertisements, which means that we get by on small donations from people like you. We’re not asking for much, but any amount that you can give goes a long way to securing a better future for the people who make America great.

For as little as $1 you can support Free Range Report, and it takes only a moment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.