An Administrative History
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Joe Pool and H. R. 3100

A freshman Congressman-at-Large from Texas, Joe Pool, took the next step toward the creation of Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Though a newly elected congressman, Pool previously had served three terms in the Texas legislature. He resided in Dallas but had family ties to Carlsbad, New Mexico, and was no stranger to West Texas. During his campaign in West Texas, he became interested in the Guadalupe Mountains. Conversations with many people in the area convinced him that the southern part of the Guadalupes should be preserved as a national park. In January 1963, without consulting Hunter, Biggs, the Park Service, or the Interior Department, Pool introduced H.R. 3100. The bill called for the Secretary of the Interior to study the Guadalupe Mountain Ranch to determine its appropriateness as a national park. Pool was as surprised to learn that just such a study had been completed nearly two years earlier as the affected individuals and agencies were to learn of Pool's interest in sponsoring a park bill. Secretary Udall commended Pool's plan and agreed to have the area investigation report of 1962 updated. [1]

Hunter, Pratt, and the Congressmen

Although Hunter was pleased by the interest that Pool's bill generated in his property, he faced the probability of purchase by the federal government realistically. He wrote to Wallace Pratt soon after Pool's announcement to thank Pratt for the geological report he had prepared for the Guadalupe Mountain Ranch and to express his feelings about the park project. He anticipated that Congressional approval of the park would take a long time, particularly if an appropriation bill was involved. He also acknowledged that purchase of his property by a benefactor, who would donate the property to the federal government, would undoubtedly speed approval by Congress. Hunter intimated to Pratt, however, that he could not hold his property off the market until Congress authorized the park. [2]

Pratt sympathized with Hunter's position and advised him to accept any reasonable offer he received. [3] He also passed on some information to Hunter regarding a gas test in a well east of Carlsbad. He interpreted the test results to mean that certain areas of the Guadalupe Mountain Ranch might contain gas-producing formations. He ended his letter to Hunter emphatically: "Retain part of your mineral rights!" [4]

During the spring and summer of 1963 Biggs and Hunter stepped up their efforts to gain support for the park idea. At least once a month they entertained members of chambers of commerce from western and central Texas and southern New Mexico, newspaper people, travel writers, and Texas and New Mexico politicians at the ranch. Visits lasted two days and involved trail rides into the back country as well as short hikes into the more accessible areas. Hunter provided food, horses, and other necessary accommodations for his guests. [5]

In early August 1963, Ed Foreman, Congressman from Odessa, added his support to the park movement. He and Pool both agreed that private acquisition of the ranch with the intent to donate it to the federal government was more desirable than depending on an appropriation from Congress. Foreman approached national organizations while Pool negotiated with local groups. [6]

At the same time that Foreman and Pool joined forces, Glenn Biggs's diplomatic skills came into play. He met with Ralph Yarborough, the senior Senator from Texas, who apparently was miffed because the legislative efforts were proceeding without his input. Biggs reminded Yarborough of Pool's failure to notify anyone involved before he introduced the legislation. Biggs also pointed out that when he had been in Washington in March he had tried unsuccessfully to meet with Yarborough to discuss the legislation. Since that time Biggs had also tried to keep Yarborough up to date on local support by sending news clippings and copies of resolutions for his file. [7] The meeting with Yarborough was only one of many such situations that Biggs handled to keep the park project going and to garner support from as many individuals as possible.

The Committee of Five

John Ben Shepperd was another pivotal person in the campaign to establish Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Sheppard formerly had served as Secretary of State and Attorney General of the State of Texas; in 1963 he was president of the Texas State Historical Survey Committee. In September 1963 he notified the county chairmen of the Survey Committee in the Permian and Trans-Pecos areas of his support for the creation of the park in the Guadalupes. He asked the county committees to consider drawing up resolutions in support of the park. [8] Shepperd also participated in the U. S. Highway 180 Association, a group organized to promote cooperation among the cities along U.S. 180 in West Texas and southern New Mexico. J.C. Hunter, Jr. and Glenn Biggs appeared before the association and asked them to lend their support and guidance to the movement to establish the park in the Guadalupes. From among the people present at that meeting, five emerged who spearheaded the support group which came to be called the Committee of Five: John Ben Shepperd; Tom Brown, from Artesia, New Mexico, who was National Democratic Committeeman for the State of New Mexico; Adair Gossett, the mayor of Carlsbad; Louis Whitlock, director of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce; and Glenn Biggs. [9]


Last Updated: 23-Apr-2001