This letter serves as the wrap-up summary report for a grant received by GTA to further activities, preservation, and community involvement of the San Francisco River in Greenlee County. It gives the reader insight of current efforts and next steps.
GTA received a grant from FreePort to further First, and most importantly, thank you once again for seeing the wisdom in funding Greenlee County Tourism Council’s proposal to underwrite the SFRRP as outlined in Clifton’ voter approved 2020 general plan. Without your substantial seed contribution that plan would have remained nothing more than another document collecting dust on the shelf. Possibly of even greater importance is the fact that all our efforts merely scratch the surface of the huge project that must yet be completed if the Town of Clifton is to sustain itself.
That said,please understand that the “Executive Summary” reads: The Greenlee County Tourism Council has exemplified excellence in “stewarding” the donated money and has succeeded in accomplishing exactly what we stated as our goal(s).
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: As per the True Impact Grant Application.
#1. We held a public extravaganza on St Patrick’s Day of 2023 at which we attracted and signed-up over 200 individuals interested in providing their suggestions, ideas, and energy to the development of the San Francisco River corridor to attract recreational, environmental, and entrepreneurial interests for the community. These are individuals who shared their contact information, revealed their personal preferences for future involvement, and enjoyed the camaraderie of a “home-grown” Clifton event.
#2. From this initial “kick-off”, ten individuals agreed to serve as chairpersons heading up the ten working committees outlined in the grant application. Under the guidance of the Tourism Council advisory board, these individuals attempted to move their respective subject areas forward over the spring and summer months. Committee’s working on: graphic depiction, hydrology, and landownership were constrained due to the unavailability of a contract with the consultant(s). Rising costs following the COVID pandemic necessitated securing additional funding. In fact, final negotiation to fulfill the required scope of work is just now being consummated. The remaining committees, each consisting of five to ten individuals, met and began assembling the criteria and standards under which the efforts could proceed. The multi-lingual committee adjourned until promotional material could be developed and examined. Land ownership was undertaken primarily through consultation with FMI’s property book personnel due to the heavy influence of their local land ownership. The two principal members are still waiting for information requested from FMI. Maintenance, flood resistance,and Clifton General Plan coordination have compiled guidelines and issues as well as examined different alternatives and possible remedies.
#3. In accomplishing goal #3 of enabling beneficiaries to gain capacity and motivation, Tourism Council core participants continued holding regularly scheduled group meeting three times a week at convenient local places of business. The gatherings motivated both previously committed individuals as well as attracting new participants to share their ideas and add to the growing number of active contributors. During this phase dozens of new, young, enthusiastic participants were reached and their ideas incorporated into the general information base.
#4. Some of the ideas that were generated in committees and ad hoc round tables held over the summer that prompted beneficiaries to action included: 1. research into the history and possibility of re-vitalizing Clifton’s hot springs; 2. accommodating off-road vehicle trail rides across the county; 3. securing one (or more) ziplines; 4. Ongoing scheduling of “duck races” to bring participants to recreate in and around the river and generate funds to support the project; 5. design trails that are stroller and handicapped accessible for safety and ease of the public EMTs; 6. coordination and cooperation with U S Forest Service in connecting and generating trails; 7. coordination with Morenci biking club in maintaining and expand trails; 8. provision of support and cooperation with Gila Watershed Project for cleaning and maintaining the watershed; 9. involving students to clean and maintain access points and trails; 10. siting and designing elevated homes to replace those lost in the 1983 flooding event; 11. siting and designing elevated extended care facilities for elderly, and challenged persons care; 12. expansion of the SFRRP concept to include and assist the Town of Duncan to duplicate the effort for the Gila River within the Duncan Town limits; and many other fruitful suggestions too numerous to list. It was during this juncture of the project that the contact and mailing list grew to over 200 participants.
#5. A grand finale event for the project was held on November 29th , 2023 at the Clifton American Legion building. The grant application predicted a response of 25 new, previously uninvolved, individuals that would agree to become part of the “housing authority” that would serve to work into the future to continue the project. By the end of the evening, twenty-four (24)previously uninvolved citizens signed their intent to demonstrate they, “Cared about Clifton’s Future”, and would work toward seeing the project through to completion.
The next step is to schedule a meeting of those individuals dedicated to the project,and to assist them in defining their roles and responsibilities. The Greenlee County Tourism Council remains committed to providing assistance in realizing a successful conclusion of the entire effort. Our previous Chairman, Mr. Phil Ronnerud will attest to the exact number of in-kind hours contributed to complete this critical plan. At last reporting Mr. Ronnerud’s time alone has exceeded the forecast $61,725.
Steve Ahmann | Greenlee Tourism Treasurer, retired