Pointless Waymarks

Ramblings, Questionable Geographics, Photographic Half-truths

Bagdad Mine Expansion - 16,670.569 acres of Arizona State Trust Land Sold - January 2020

Created by Charles Miles on 2/3/2020. Updated on 2/7/2020.

Bagdad, AZ, is a located west of Prescott on the other side of Prescott National Forest, about 100 miles northwest of Phoenix. A Freeport-McMoRan company town it is adjacent to the the Bagdad Mine. (Morenci is also an FCX company town...).

The Bagdad Mine is an open-pit copper and molybdenum mining complex - the first claims were staked in 1882 and the transition from underground to open-pit mining began in 1945.

In 2017 a Bagdad Mine Extension was approved by the BLM - the documents created for the NEPA Environmental Assessment are not light reading but do contain some interest insight into the plants, animals, geography and water in the area.

In 2020 Arizona State Land Department Public Auction Sale No. 53-119697 offered for sale 16,670.569 acres - approximately 26 square miles - of Arizona State Trust Land near Bagdad. The auction was won with the minimum bid of $13,578,000 by Freeport-McMoRan for the expansion of the Bagdad Mining operation. As far as I can tell this sale didn't receive much attention in the press with the Phoenix New Times writing one of the few published articles - Arizona Quietly Sells Land to Freeport-McMoRan for Mining Waste.

It is interesting to see the area sold on a map both for location and for size - the hashed blue area in the center left is a rough but useful approximation of the sold land.

A color coded map of Arizona State Trust Land showing the showing the approximate area of land sold for the Bagdad Mine expansion which is roughly the size of Prescott.
The blue hashed area in the center left is the approximate area of the 16k acre (26 square mile) Arizona State Trust Land Sale for the expansion of the Bagdad Mine. Prescott in center right for size reference.

The good news that this sale creates more money for education in Arizona, facilitates the continuation and possible expansion of the jobs and economic benefits provided by the Bagdad Mine and doesn't seem to create access issues for adjacent public land (that I am aware of anyway...).

The bad news is that sales of Arizona State Trust Land, especially larger undeveloped parcels like this, fragments and reduces the lands available for hunting, hiking, access and wildlife in Arizona.

Unfortunately the Arizona State Land Department's primary duties do not include careful comprehensive planning for the future of Arizona, preserving the character of Arizona's landscape or working to find creative solutions to reach environmental goals that would benefit all Arizona residents... Instead it is primarily tasked with maximizing revenues for the beneficiaries of the trust - as the owner of over 10% of Arizona's land perhaps not the right focus to create the best possible State of Arizona during the next century? I suspect a broader mission for the State Land Department could provide more benefits for more Arizonans without compromising funding for education.


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