On behalf of the entire BOLDplanning team, congratulations to the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management, NM, along with the cities of Aztec (the county seat), Bloomfield, and Farmington, and the town of Kirtland, for gaining FEMA approval of their recently updated Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP)

HMPs, as expressed by FEMA, are key to breaking the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. Additionally, the National Institute of Building Sciences now estimates that every dollar invested in mitigation saves six dollars in prevented damages (up from four dollars in previous years). And, given the fact the U.S. saw a record number of billion-dollar disasters (22 in fact, totaling $96 million in damage) in 2020, that number may climb even higher. 

For the last few months, Tennessee-based BOLDplanning and the San Juan County’s participating jurisdictions have worked together to identify natural hazards, add/update mitigation projects, and communicate with plan stakeholders. The result, FEMA approval of the HMP, confirms compliance with the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-390) and ensures the County’s eligibility for Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants (pre-and post-disaster) for the next five years. These include the Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant Program and the Building Resilience Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Grant Program, to name a few. 

Funds from these programs are commonly used by state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to support all kinds of mitigation projects. Among them are structural retrofits, the building of safe rooms, culverts, and retaining walls, the installation of warning sirens, and even mitigation education and awareness programs. 

For San Juan County, specifically, these projects include but are not limited to promoting the Flood Damage Prevention Program, constructing a new water storage tank in Aztec, constructing a new reservoir for the Bloomfield Water System, supporting wildfire mitigation efforts in Farmington, and ensuring water supply protection in Kirtland. 

With a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan now in place, San Juan County and its participating jurisdictions are in a much better position to safeguard residents, businesses, schools, and critical infrastructure for years to come. This is especially true for the town of Kirtland, which is a relatively new jurisdiction within San Juan County. As such, this was its first time to participate with the County in the HMP planning and adoption process. 

“On behalf of the entire BOLDplanning team, congratulations again to San Juan County, the cities of Aztec, Bloomfield, and Farmington, and the town of Kirtland on this accomplishment,” said BOLDplanning representative, James Woulfe, CBCP. “It was an honor and a pleasure to assist the County with its mitigation efforts, and we wish all plan participants the very best as they move forward with their mitigation projects.” 

Special thanks to Mike Mestas, Emergency Manager, with the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management, Michele Truby-Tillen, Community Development Director with San Juan County Community Development,  Duane Bair, Battalion Chief, Wildland Fire Division with the City of Farmington Fire Department, BC Wildland Division, Lisa Hale-Blue Eyes, Floodplain Manager with the City of Farmington, Dan Flack, Engineer with the Town of Kirtland,  Jason Thomas, PW Director with the City of Bloomfield, and Steven Saavedra, Floodplain Manager with the City of Aztec for bringing this project to completion. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with San Juan County, NM, it is located in the northwest corner of the state and borders Arizona, Colorado, and Utah (the beautiful “Four Corners” area). The County comprises 5,500 square miles (less than 6% privately owned), and in 2010 had an estimated population of 130,044. The County contains the Colorado Plateau, which is the picturesque portion of the Navajo Nation. 

Project partner, BOLDplanning, is located in historic Franklin, TN, a suburb of Nashville. The company provides clients with expert consulting services and cloud-based software for the development of preparedness plans for hazard mitigation, emergency operations, and business continuity.