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Dr. Walter and Nancy Taylor Collection, 1968-1981.


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Taylor, Walter.
Collection NameDr. Walter and Nancy Taylor Collection,
Inclusive Dates: 1968-1981.
Physical Description1 linear foot.
DescriptionThe Dr. Walter and Nancy Taylor Collection pertains to the "Save the Peaks" controversy centering around proposed development in the Hart Prairie area of the San Francisco Peaks. The collection consists of environmental reports, position statements, media clippings, and correspondence relating to the controversy.
Collection NumberNAU.MS.59
Language English.
Repository Cline Library. Special Collections and Archives Department.
Northern Arizona University
Box 6022
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-6022
Phone: 928 523 5551
Fax: 928 523 3770

Biographical Note

The "Save the Peaks" flight was a decade-long struggle, originally pitting the local citizens against Summit Properties and its parent corporation, the Post Company. The object of the controversy was a 350 acre parcel of land in the Hart Prairie area of the San Francisco Peaks. In the early 1970's local Flagstaff citizens united to prevent the company's proposed development of the Hart Prairie acreage. During the course of the controversy, the citizens of Flagstaff and Summit Properties became allies against the United States Forest Service (USFS). Both groups felt the USFS, guardians of American public forest lands, extended the "Save the Peaks" controversy for many years by neither cooperating nor negotiating in good faith with either the citizens of Flagstaff or summit Properties.

In January, 1970, the Coconino County Planning and zoning Commission approved a measure to rezone 327 acres of Hart Prairie from agricultural to conventional single family, multiple family, and commercial zoning. Based on this decision, Summit Properties purchased the Arizona Snow Bowl ski area with the intent of expanding its facilities into the newly rezoned area of Hart Prairie. Summit Properties planned to develop its existing site into 300 acres of hotel accommodations, condominiums, swimming pools, trout ponds, tennis courts, and riding stables; a four million dollar resort/residential project. At the time of this original decision, the USFS declared no official position.

Protests to Summit's plans began in 1971 and were led by private citizens, the Plateau Group of the Sierra Club, the Hopi and Navajo Nations, and the Flagstaff Gen and Mineral Society among others. In response to these protest, the USFS held a series of public hearings to help shape its policy with regards to the proposed development of Hart Prairie acreage. Despite opposition from both the private sector and the USFS, the Coconino Planning and Zoning Commission approved the rezoning of Post Company's Hart Prairie holding in December, 1971. In January, 1972, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors defeated the zoning request of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Arizona state statutes require a unanimous vote on rezoning requests put before the Board of Supervisors when twenty percent of adjoining landowners oppose the changes. In this case, only two-thirds of the Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the change.

In early 1973, the first shot was fired in the local courts. Hart Prairie landowners Richard and Jean Wilson filed suit against the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, the Coconino County Planning and Zoning Commission, and Summits Properties/Post Company in an effort to repeal the zoning changes approved in January, 1970. The Wilsons and their co-plantiffs charged that the Coconino County Board of Supervisors were guilty of several technical errors in the zoning process. The efforts of the citizens precipitated several public hearings in 1973 and 1974 regarding the rezoning and development of Hart Prairie. During these hearings, the Flagstaff City Council remained officially neutral on the rezoning proposals. The Hart Prairie proposal was endorsed by many Coconino County labor unions including the Teamsters Local 83, the Carpenters Local 1100, and the Sawmill Workers Local 2772. After rejecting rezoning requests again in both January and March, 1974, the coconino County Board of Supervisors placed a one-year moratorium on rezoning, building, or use permit requests for areas in the San Francisco Peaks above 8,000 feet.

In response to their defeats in the public forum, Bruce Leadbetter, President of Post Company, filed suit against several defendants on behalf of Summit Properties. These defendants included private citizens Richard and Jean Wilson, Leonard Halpenny, and Douglas J. Wall. The suit also named the USFS, Supervisor of the Coconino National Forest Don Seamus, Coconino County Supervisor Tio Tachias, the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the Tuba City School District as co-defendants. This lawsuit temporarily ended all communications between the involved parties.

The Coconino Citizens Association (CCA), newly organized and incorporated in 1974, offered itself as a line of communication between the feuding parties. The CCA Determined that a fair solution included payment of the fair market value (not the amount of invested venture capital) to summit for the Hart Prairie acreage. The only way to finance this transaction involved trading the land into the public domain, an idea suggested by the USFS itself in December, 1971. In February, 1975, the CCA once again volunteered its services, this time as a negotiating intermediary between the USFS and Summit/Post Company. As a contingency for negotiation, the USFS demanded that the Summit lawsuit be resolved, and that Summit submit a written exchange proposal. Leadbetter agreed to the these terms in late February, 1975 thus clearing the way for negotiation.

On April 11, 1975, representatives from the USFS, the Coconino Board of Supervisors, Summit/Post Company, and the CCA met to decide on the method and criteria to be used for appraisal of the Hart Prairie land. It was agreed that the value of the land should be based on its highest and best use, and that a third party exchange the easiest transfer process. Though troubled by temporal concerns, Leadbetter consented to USFS appraisal based on the USFS's promise that the appraisal would be ready in one month.

Six months later the USFS declared its final appraisal to be 1.34 million dollars. Angered by the delays of the USFS and the extremely low appraisal figure, the CCA passed a unanimous resolution condemning the USFS appraisal. In December, 1975, Leadbetter and the USFS agreed to submit their dispute to independent appraisal. In order to facilitate this independent appraisal, the Citizens' Hart Prairie Appraisal Committee was formed. This committee, comprised of Northern Arizona University Dean of the School of Forestry Charles Minor, Coconino County Manager Jack Smith, and CCA Board member and Flagstaff physician Walter Taylor, selected Charles L. Darragh, a member of the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers in Arizona, to conduct the appraisal.

Completed in March, 1976, Darragh's appraisal was 1.866 million dollars. This figure was immediately approved by the Post Company Board of Directors. By July, 1976, the USFS had still not responded to Post Company's offer to sell the Hart Prairie land for 1.866 million dollars. Frustrated by the USFS's silence and lethargy, Leadbetter and representatives of the CCA, and Hopi and Navajo Nations went to lobby for Congressional support of the land sale in Washington, D.C. In Washington, they received the support of the entire Arizona Congressional delegation.

Desperate for a solution and making no headway with the USFS, Leadbeter and the CCA struck a deal with the Nature Conservancy to buy the land from Summit at a price below the USFS accepted appraisal amount. The Nature Conservancy would then sell the land to the USFS at a price sufficient to cover their initial investment. This deal never materialized, and in August, 1976 the USFS rejected Darragh's independent appraisal and once again offered Summit the original USFS appraisal sum of 1.34 million dollars.

After two months of negotiation, the USFS and Summit/Post Company agreed to a purchase price of 1.465 million dollars. This agreement was contingent upon Congressional approval of the deal and subsequent financial appropriation. The funds for this Conservation Fund Act which was designed to add to the Public Domain "lands with desirable recreational activities." Also as part of the sale, the USFS agreed to give Summit/Post Company retention of the area's water rights for a fifty year period. In January, 1977, Summit Properties officially dropped its 1974 lawsuit, and on January 27, 1978 the USFS officially requested the disbursement of payments to Summit Properties.

Though local newspapers heralded this event as the end of the "Save the Peaks" fight, it was not the end of development controversies for the San Francisco Peaks. In the early 1980's, under different ownership, the Arizona Snow Bowl again sought to expand. Though a new all-weather road and increased development of the Snow Bowl area resulted from these efforts, the resistance to development on the San Francisco Peaks formulated during the Hart Prairie controversy of the 1970's proved to staunch opponent once again.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists primarily of environmental reports, position statements, media clippings, correspondence, and memoranda regarding the "Save the Peaks" controversy. While the material in this collection strongly reflects the anti-development position of its donors, there is a sufficient variety of material to understand the different viewpoints of all involved parties. This collection was arranged based on topical categories. Within these topical categories, the documents were arranged chronologically in order to promote historical context and continuity.

This collection is important because it provides information on one of Flagstaff, Arizona's most heated environmental controversies. Flagstaff is a city which is proud of its western heritage, and the battle to save the San Francisco Peaks represents efforts by many of its citizens to protect Flagstaff and its surrounding environment from the encroaching commercialization and urban development so prevalent in the rest of the American West. As such, the "Save the Peaks" controversy documented in this collection serves as a microcosm for many larger issues faced by American society. These issues include, formulating guidelines for the development and/or preservation of public lands, limiting urbanization, and recognizing the importance of environmental, aesthetic, and religious condsiderations with regard to the nation's remaining open space.


This collection of papers documenting the "Save the Peaks" controversy surrounding the proposed development of the Hart Prairie area of the San Francisco Peaks consists of one box of archival material divided into six series: I. Official Documents, 1971-1979. II. Coconino Citizens Association, 1974-1978. III. Media Clippings, 1970-1981. IV. Public Correspondence, 1971-1978. V. Taylor Personal Papers, 1971-1979. VI. Related Materials, 1968-1975.





It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents for Northern Arizona University, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.

Related Material

Duncklee, John, 1969-1974. [manuscript] NAU.MS.335

Fronske Studio, 1985. [photographs] NAU.PH.85.3

General Land Office Field Notes, 1878-1972. [manuscript] NAU.MS.326

Lynholm, Don Papers, 1970-1992. [manuscript] NAU.MS.229

Lynholm, Don Papers, 1995. [photographs] NAU.PH.95.55

Muench, Joseph Collection [photographs] NAU.PH.2003.11

USGS Old Timers' Collection, 1994. [photographs] NAU.PH.94.37

Wilson, Richard and Jean Collection, 1964-1983. [manuscript] NAU.MS.73

Access Points

Personal Name(s)
Taylor, Nancy.
Taylor, Walter.

Corporate Name(s)
Coconino Citizens Association (Flagstaff, Ariz.)--Archives.
Coconino County (Ariz.). Board of Supervisors.
Coconino County Planning and Zoning Commission.
Hopi Tribe.
Nature Conservancy (U.S.)
Navajo Tribe.
Post Company (Firm)
Sierra Club. Plateau Group.
Summit Properties (Firm)
United States. Forest Service.

Geographic Name(s)
San Francisco Peaks (Ariz.).

Cities and towns--Growth.
Real estate development--Arizona--Environmental aspects.
Real estate development--Arizona--Sociological aspects.

Genre Form(s)
Environmental impact statements.

Administrative Information

Credit Line

Dr. Walter and Nancy Taylor Collection, NAU.MS.59, Cline Library. Special Collections and Archives Dept.

Container List

Series One: Official Documents, 1971-1979.
Consists of five topically and chronologically arranaged folders. These folders contain environmental reports, general position statements on the Peaks controversy from a variety of groups and individuals, and government documents.
This series also includes copies of two public hearing statements read before the Coconino County Planning and zoning Commission as well as two official Resolutions from the Hopi Nation regarding the San Francisco Peaks.
1.1 Environmental Reports, 1970's-1979.
1.2 Government Documents, 1971-1975.
1.3 Public Hearing Statements, 1974-1975.
1.4 General Position Statements, 1970's.
1.5 Hopi Tribe Resolutions, 1975.
Series Two: Coconino Citizens Association, 1974-1978.
Consists of eleven folders pertaining to the activities of the CCA with regards to the "Save the Peaks" controversy. These folders are arranged topically and chronologically. This is the largest and most important series in the collection, and it clearly identifies the CCA's position and activities in their battle to halt the development of Hart Prairie.
This series contains CCA organizational documents such as their Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, CCA position statements, membership information, newsletters, and correspondence. Folders eight through twelve contain minutes from CCA Board of Directors meeting from 1974 through 1978. Additionally, folder sixteen contains many documents relating to the CCA's development of an audio-visual presentation to highlight the controversy's major issues.
1.6 Organizational Documents, 1974-1976.
1.7 Position Statements, 1974-1975.
1.8-1.12 Minutes, Board of Directors meetings, 1974-1988.
1.13 Membership, 1974-1977.
1.14 Newslettes and Notes, 1974.
1.15 Correspondence, 1974-1977.
1.16 Slide Presentations, 1975.
Series Three: Media Clippings, 1970-1981.
Consists of five folders containing an extrememly comprehensive collection of newspaper clippings from the Arizona Daily Sun regarding the "Save the Peaks" controversy. These folders are arranged chronologically by year, and chronologically by date within each folder. These clippings include feature articles, editorials, photographs, maps, diagrams, and advertisements promoting the positions of the various involved parties. While most of the newspaper clippings are from the Arizona Daily Sun, there are a few clippings from the Arizona Republic.
1.17-1.21 Media Clippings, 1970-1981.
Series Four: Public Correspondence, 1971-1978.
Consists of three folders arranged topically and chronologically. These folders include petitions and questionaires, newspaper advertisements, and announcements flyers. This series also contains bulk mail correspondence sent to Flagstaff residents promoting various sides of the Peaks controversy
Folder twenty-three contains a "Save the Peaks" concert program, newspaper advertisement, ticket stub, and promotional flyer from the Jackson Browne-Nitty Gritty Dirt Band benefit concert organized by the Coconino Cititzens Association in 1975.
1.22 Petitions and Questionaires, 1970's.
1.23 Public Notices, 1974-1977.
1.24 Correspondence, 1972-1978.
Series Five: Taylor Personal Papers, 1971-1979.
Consists of two folders containing the personal papers of Dr. Walter and Nancy Taylor. These folders are arranged topically and chronologically. The Taylor papers include personal correspondence sent and received by the Taylors, general notes on the Peaks issue, and correspondence rough drafts.
This series includes letters sent to and received from such notable figures and agencies as Barry Goldwater, Morris Udall, and the National Park Service.
1.25 Correspondence, 1971-1979.
1.26 Notes, 1974-1975.
Series Six: Related Materials, 1968-1975.
Consists of three topically and chronologically arranged folders housing peripheral documents loosely related to the "Save the Peaks" controversy. These documents include media clippings, Department of Interior news releases, bibliographies, and studies on environmental issues similar to the issues prevalent in the Peaks controversy.
This series also contains media clippings documenting Post Company properties and officers as well as several Post Company newsletters.
1.27 Related Environmental Items, 1968-1975.
1.28 Post Company Information, 1974-1975.
1.29 Post Company Newsletters, 1973.