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You trashed a fine public servant

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Dear HCN,

I am amazed to read that you still are hanging on to the totally erroneous concept that you printed several years ago about the land exchanges Dean Bibles did in Arizona (HCN, 5/16/94). One would think that after many savings and loans went bankrupt due to their "paper" values and transactions involving the public land they acquired in these exchanges, that you and most other thoughtful people would admit that the establishment of the San Pedro tract is a wonderful national asset.

Dean accomplished several other public-interest exchanges while he was state director in Arizona, highlighted perhaps by the Empire/Cienaga Riparian area where the local zoning had approved a large development of homes and a golf course complex with the water right being transferred to mining activities. Today, the area is under BLM management and contains some seven endangered species. It is also very distressing to hear of Secretary Babbitt's comments about Dean, reported by you, knowing that the secretary was the governor in Arizona at the time of these exchanges and was very supportive of Dean's efforts.

I have come to enjoy the HCN as most of your articles have some sense of balance to them. Each public-land issue has more than one side and HCN often makes the effort to "paint" both sides. Your reporting of the BLM Summit is an exception. It is libelous for you to blame Dean for trying to clearcut Oregon when he went to Oregon as the state director after the lawsuits had been filed and where he completed the new 10-year plans. These plans later became the "base" for the president's plan.

Please keep that balance; without it you can do a tremendous disservice to the career professional public-land manager.

George Lea

McLean, Virginia

George Lea is president of the Public Lands Foundation.

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