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  • Baldwin, seeker of low-bid livestock, rides into sunset

    Aug 24, 2016 | Read More News
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    The next time you’re picnicking or hiking in one of Pima County’s natural resource parks or other wide-open spaces, thank Kerry Baldwin.

    The natural resources superintendent for Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, Baldwin, 65, will retire Sept. 9 after 12 years with the county and 28 years in land conservation with the Arizona Game and Fish Department

    Kerry BaldwinHis job has included responsibility for natural resource parks such as Colossal Cave, Tucson Mountain Park and Agua Caliente Park. But Baldwin also was one of the driving forces behind the county’s $165 million conservation land acquisition program, established in 2004. 

    The division currently has responsibility for more than 145 different biologically important properties covering a quarter of a million acres. That’s why you’re able to savor those stunning views off Gates Pass on your way to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum or trek through Agua Caliente Park with your binoculars and spot dozens of species of  birds.

    “Some of this conservation, we may not be able to determine the success of these decisions for 50 years,” Baldwin observed. “But people thought we were crazy in 1929 when we acquired all that land around Tucson Mountain Park. Now that’s home to Old Tucson, the Desert Museum.”

    Nicole Fyffe, executive assistant to County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, worked closely with Baldwin in shaping the county’s open-space bond program and said his conservation experience was invaluable.

    “We relied greatly on his expertise in assessing properties for acquisition, as well as during the negotiation process with land owners. And he somehow managed an ever-growing portfolio of diverse open space properties with very limited resources,” Fyffe said.

    Baldwin’s negotiations sometimes took place with county employees, like when he had to tell the Procurement Department that he needed a herd of cows for ranch lands the county owns.

    “They roll their eyes when they see me coming,” Baldwin recalled. “One of the employees even called a colleague outside the county to ask, ‘Have you ever bought cows? How are we going to bid this out?’”

    Baldwin chuckled at the memory. “I mean, how do you write a set of specs for a cow?”

    And when it comes to hiring cowboys and purchasing the horses they need to ride, the low bid isn’t always the winner.

    “I don’t want low bid. I need a horse that’s broke,” Baldwin said, emphatically. “That’s part of our fleet!”

    Julia Fonseca, the county’s environmental planning manager, worked with Baldwin as part of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, the County’s plan for balancing the conservation and protection of cultural and natural resource heritage with efforts to maintain an economically vigorous and fiscally responsible community.

    “From his success in getting grants, his leadership and vision in environmental education, his vision for watchable wildlife, and his horse-sense in getting stuff done, Kerry has led the charge in advancing the cause of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan,” Fonseca said. “Without Kerry’s efforts, the County’s fledgling efforts to provide stewardship for the newly acquired 2004 bond lands might have faltered.”

    The results of those efforts is what Baldwin will take with him when he leaves the job.

    “I think just being a part of the team that pulled this conservation land system together is rewarding,” Baldwin said. “As a biologist, to know how much land we set aside and gave long-term protection. A lot of people can’t say they were part of something like that.”

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