Land exchange helped wildlife

  Dear HCN,

Your recent article titled "Babbitt is Trying to Nationalize the BLM" (HCN, 5/16/94) provided many perceptive insights as to the possible future direction of that very important agency.

I do encourage you to revisit the Indian School (Phoenix) Land Exchange brokered in the 1980s by then Arizona BLM State Director Dean Bibles, in close cooperation with then Gov. Babbitt. The recent article implies the process "made a hash out of the public process and, some say, gave away valuable land close to Phoenix for less valuable distant land."

Our office was an active part of that process for over four years, and found it a very open process, to the great credit of Bibles, Sen. DeConcini, Mo Udall, Babbitt, and others. Furthermore, the nation received 56,000 acres of exemplary riparian habitat along Arizona's San Pedro River Corridor and over 100,000 acres of critical wetland in Florida's Big Cypress Swamp in exchange for 135 acres of extremely valuable Phoenix real estate. I believe that a vast majority of Americans would applaud this precedent-setting land exchange, which enhanced so much critical wetland habitat. Yes, there are an infinite number of ways to invest the $100" million from the sale of the Indian School property, but few would have done more for wildlife. Thank you, Messrs. Babbitt, Bibles, DeConcini and Udall.

Robert K. Turner

Boulder, Colorado

The writer is regional vice president of the National Audubon Society.