Empire Ranch Foundation

Dean Bibles; Henri Bisson; Fred Baker

This group interview with Dean Bibles, Henri Bisson, and Fred Baker focuses primarily on the establishment of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (LCNCA). Dean Bibles served as Arizona state director for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from 1982-1989. Henri Bisson came to Phoenix from the BLM Washington offices in 1986 and soon after became district manager for the BLM Phoenix district, which at that time included southeastern Arizona. Fred Baker, a Sonoita area rancher, was completing a term on the Game & Fish Commission, and was moving into the land and agricultural real estate business at that time.

Dean Bibles describes his overall vision of creating a public land wildlife corridor for the state of Arizona that would run from the Mexican border into Utah. Under his leadership the BLM acquired about 2½ million acres of state, federal, and private lands through a variety of land exchanges. These exchanges led to the eventual establishment of the LCNCA, the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, the Ironwood National Forest, the Agua Fria Monument, and consolidation of all Grand Canyon lands under the Park Service. He describes the land exchange process, the key individuals who were part of the process, and the political or bureaucratic negotiations that took place.

Henri Bisson describes the role of the Phoenix district office staff in the land exchanges, amending the BLM land use plans, and the establishment of the Tucson BLM Field Office. Fred Baker’s role in some of the land exchanges and his invaluable assistance in helping to obtain public support for the exchanges is described.

Full transcript available upon request:

Date of Interview: May 13, 2010
Interviewer: Alison Bunting