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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 8, 1999
                           Joint Statement of
                        George T. Frampton, Jr.,
     Acting Chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality,
                          And Andrew Dunigan,
                  CEO, Baca Land and Cattle Co., Inc.

We are pleased to announce that the Clinton Administration and the Dunigan family have reached a preliminary agreement, subject to Congressional authorization and appropriations, for federal purchase of the Baca Ranch in northern New Mexico.

Located in the Jemez Mountains region west of Santa Fe, the 95,000-acre ranch sustains one of the nation's largest wild elk herds and contains the world-renowned Valles Caldera, the collapsed crater of an ancient volcano. The Dunigan family has offered the ranch for public acquisition so that its unique natural assets can be permanently preserved, and protecting this treasure for future generations has been a top conservation priority for President Clinton.

Following federal review and approval of an independent appraisal of the property, the U.S. Forest Service yesterday offered $101 million for purchase of the ranch. In a letter of intent from their legal counsel, the Dunigan family accepted the Forest Service's offer pending negotiation of a purchase option and contract, and Congressional authorization and appropriations.

In anticipation of this agreement, the Administration last year agreed to work with Senators Bingaman and Domenici to secure authorizing legislation and the necessary appropriations for federal acquisition of the Baca Ranch. The Administration and the Senators agreed that the ranch would be managed by a trust comprised of individuals appointed by the President, and that it would continue to be operated as a working ranch, demonstrating conservation and sustainable land use practices, while providing new recreational opportunities to the public consistent with those practices.

We wish to thank Senators Bingaman and Domenici, and Representative Udall, for their support for this historic conservation effort. We are committed to working together to complete a final agreement and to seek Congressional approval, including the necessary appropriations, so that this extraordinary natural treasure can be protected for all time.

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