Skip to content

We've updated our open hours & safety measures. Check for recent changes.

Back to Top

Pedro Denton Interview

Doug Schoenberg: My name is Doug Schoenberg, and I'm doing an interview with Pedro Denton on State land selections between statehood and 1976.

Pedro Denton: OK.

Doug Schoenberg: Now, during that period, what positions did you hold with the Department of Natural Resources?

Pedro Denton: Oh, I was in charge of the Mineral Section division of land in the old days from-- I think it was about '65 I started with the State.

Doug Schoenberg: '65?

Pedro Denton: Yeah.

Doug Schoenberg: Uh-huh. And eventually the Mineral Section became a separate division, didn't it?

Pedro Denton: Right.

Doug Schoenberg: And you continued to be the chief of that, or the director of that division? Is that what it was?

Pedro Denton: No. No, I was only there for about a year after that division was formed.

Doug Schoenberg: I see.

Pedro Denton: And I think "Easy" Gilbreth was the first director, and I still stayed in charge of what turned in to be the-- I guess they called it the Land Section or-- I don't know. Anyway, they handled permits and contracts and stuff.

Doug Schoenberg: I see. Now, in the early years that you were working there-- let's see. If you started in '65, there were still a fair amount of land selection going on in 1965. Do you recall being consulted about which lands might be chosen for mineral prospecting?

Pedro Denton: Yeah. We, the Mineral Section, took the advocate position on mineral matters. And we originated a lot of the ideas and were a lot of the push behind making so much [INAUDIBLE] primarily for mineral potential. And I think the ones that I recall that we were most involved in were some of the second large group of selections on the Slope and Bristol Bay.

And then the last big push on selections before they got involved in the land freeze, or it was about the time the land freeze was imposed. There was more of a push on that from the Commissioner's office. Everybody was involved in that and pushing for that, and it was pretty well a Department effort on that thing.

Doug Schoenberg: Now that was--

Pedro Denton: A lot of mineral considerations went into that, of course.

Doug Schoenberg: Now you're talking about the large selections at the end of '68 and the beginning of '69?

Pedro Denton: Yeah, that would be about right. Yeah.

Doug Schoenberg: Because the land freeze was imposed by Udall in December of '68, I believe.

Pedro Denton: Yeah. Yeah, I don't know. I don't remember the dates, but there was a large acreage selected about those dates.

Doug Schoenberg: About seven and 1/2 million acres, I believe.

Pedro Denton: Yeah.

Doug Schoenberg: Now, almost half of that acreage was chosen on the north side of the Alaska Peninsula on Bristol Bay. And your recollection was that that was for what purpose?

Pedro Denton: Well, I was speaking of a different block of selections then. But that particular block was-- the main momentum for that was that the time to select lands under mineral lease was running out.

Doug Schoenberg: Mm-hmm.

Pedro Denton: So-- and the [INAUDIBLE] files are pretty well documented with this. So we took the position that if we're ever going to select it, we had better select it now. Because once we could not select plans under mineral lease, it would become a patchwork of quilt-type things that they would continue to lease in there. And at that time, there was potential for active federal leasing on a non-competitive basis and so forth.

And so we said if we're ever going to select it, we've got to consider it now. Which we did and decided that the area had selection potential. And it wasn't selected for the minerals alone, but it was the fact that you had to select it now or run into that problem that we select it at that time.

Doug Schoenberg: Mm-hmm.

Pedro Denton: But there was other values that went into consideration.

Doug Schoenberg: Yeah. A minute ago you said that that wasn't the block of lands that you were referring to?

Pedro Denton: It wasn't the last big block. The--

Doug Schoenberg: Are you talking about the '72 selections, or--

Pedro Denton: I might be. I don't know. The remainder of the entitlement--

Doug Schoenberg: That was right after ANCSA was passed. Is that what you were-- I'm sorry for interrupting.

Pedro Denton: What date?

Doug Schoenberg: ANCSA was passed December 18, 1971. And the State selected 77 million acres on January 22 1972.

Pedro Denton: OK. That's probably it, yeah.

Doug Schoenberg: Yeah.

Pedro Denton: So that was the Department effort there.

Doug Schoenberg: But let me back up for just a minute. I want to discuss the January 22, '72 selections with you. But when you first started working for the Department of Natural Resources, were selections being made on the basis of their potential for hard rock mineral development?

Pedro Denton: No, there-- a general feeling then that there was no real reason to do it for that. You see, what we had, and I think what the general feeling was, was that we had lots of time.

Doug Schoenberg: Yeah.

Pedro Denton: And there was no need to rush into decisions. And now for oil and gas potential, because of the federal leasing programs, where you saw an area that you thought you might want to select someday, the time was more critical. So a lot of people say, well, those were selected for their oil and gas potential. But that was never the main reason behind it.

What we did is we sat down and said, we'd like to have this from an oil and gas potential. Does it fit into your selection plans? And then pointing out the reasons for the urgency. And that resulted in selection of a lot of areas for-- that their primary value at the time was oil and gas. And they became a standard thing. I'd just like to support oil and gas. But that wasn't true.

Doug Schoenberg: I'm not sure that I'm clear on the misunderstanding that you're referring to. People thought that the land was being chosen for oil and gas purposes--

Pedro Denton: Only.

Doug Schoenberg: Uh-huh.

Pedro Denton: And the only consideration-- that's a common word that you'd hear on some of the later planners that come along-- is all they selected that for was the oil and gas potential. And that wasn't true. The ones I was involved in, whenever we selected, we sat down and we talked to all the other people that had resource knowledge, resource values in the area, including Fish and Game. And talked over whether that would fit into the State's ultimate plans for reusing the entitlement or not.

Doug Schoenberg: I'd like to try to put some kind of a date on that process, if you can. When you make a reference to discussing it with people from the Department of Fish and Game, do you remember doing that when you first started with the Department?

Pedro Denton: Yeah.

Doug Schoenberg: Right from the beginning?

Pedro Denton: Yeah. I wasn't primarily responsible for selection. My responsibility was oil and gas and minerals.

Doug Schoenberg: Uh-huh.

Pedro Denton: But we originated the selection idea on some of those. And what we would do is then be involved in-- once we got the idea moving, then the selection people would take it over and they would coordinate the review process. But yes, I recall discussing privately on my own to get it moving.

Like calling Fish and Game people and talking to them and saying hey, would this fit into a logical game management unit for the future? And all that kind of thing as a part of my selling program. I did some of it myself.

But now, I don't know how much of that was done by the actual selection people. I recall being in meetings discussing it, but I don't, as far as specific instances. I do recall that there was quite a bit of consideration given to the Bristol Bay selection.

And I had a hard selling job there, because at that time, a lot of the people weren't interested in selection. And I don't know. There's some files there in D Min (Div. of Minerals) is that where you're located?

Doug Schoenberg: No. I'm working for the Division of Resource and Development.

Pedro Denton: There's some files there in D Min (Div. of Minerals) that show some of our reasoning behind that, and gives an insight into that to the job we had to convince people that you'd better use that [INAUDIBLE]. On those particular selections, we definitely considered other resource values. I remember that we talked with Fish and Game about getting a wildlife [INAUDIBLE] caribou and some of that would fit into those [INAUDIBLE].

Doug Schoenberg: Now, you said that these Bristol Bay selections that you're referring to, they're the ones that I was talking about on the north side of the Alaska Peninsula. Is that correct?

Pedro Denton: Right.

Doug Schoenberg: Did you first-- did you already visit one that would've been still, I guess, branch of the division Lands at that time. Did your branch make that suggestion from and oil and gas perspective?

Pedro Denton: Right.

Doug Schoenberg: And then it was discussed from these other perspectives.

Pedro Denton: Right. We originally made the suggestion because we could see the problem coming up with the 10-year period the you could select lands under mineral lease under the statehood act.

Doug Schoenberg: Yeah.

Pedro Denton: You're familiar with that?

Doug Schoenberg: Yes.

Pedro Denton: And that was the reason that we made the suggestion. This area's got to be considered now or it's going to be screwed up if you want to do it in the future.

Doug Schoenberg: Yeah. There's one thing that I am kind of confused about. There were two different things that impinged on state rights to selections at that time. One was that on January 3, '69, the extension of the right to select under Federal mineral lease was going to expire. The other was that-- and I'm not sure of the exact date, but sometime in December of '68, Udall slapped on his land freeze, which I believe the state interpreted as still giving them the usual 90-day period to make their selections after some kind of a land action. So do you recall that-- I'm not sure at what point the division of lands decided that they weren't going to get another extension on the rights to select under the federal mineral lease.

Pedro Denton: I'm not either. That's part of it. That would've not been my area. Once I had originated the plan to do it, then it was no longer my concern as far as the technicalities of whether it's available or not. Yes, I was involved in a lot of those discussions and I remember the problem, but I don't--

Doug Schoenberg: Well, I was just curious if, for instance, at that time, I guess it would have been Roscoe Bell if he had come-- or actually, that would've been after Roscoe left. ya Joe Keenan already.

Pedro Denton: Yeah. Keenan and-- the person that was most aggressive in that would've been Chuck Herbert. And there's some overlap in there. I recall that-- there still was reluctance in the division of land itself to use up acreage. There still was-- you'd hear people say they didn't think the state would ever select a plan, full entitlement, you know. So it was done as probably a commissioner push.

As I recall, there was some overlap between administrations there on that, too, between Kelly and Herbert. And I don't remember exactly how that fitted in, but both of those individuals took the same position I did, is that the state is going to select its land the state should get all the land it can get his hands on it. And if you're running into legal problems, you'd better do it now. And there was no question that some of the procedures that were being used were going to run into some interpretation problems with interior.

Doug Schoenberg: I know that there was a lot of reluctance to select land because it cost the state a lot of money for-- they had to pay the BLM for fire protection and there were highway funds when lands were selected that kind of step, especially in the early years. Did that change at all? Like, as the state got a little bit of money-- by today's perspective, a little bit of money-- with that first big oil lease in Prudhoe Bay, I guess that was '69, the state got that 900 million dollars. Did that change people's perspective on making selections that the state could afford to make selections now?

Pedro Denton: Well, I'm sure it did. We could've afforded to make them before that, but I'm sure that '69 made a big difference. But '69, as I recall, that was a little late. We were running into the question of timing of selections, as far as BLM interpretation goes at that point.

So yeah, I pushed-- again, if you dig into some of the D Min (Div. of Minerals) files over there, you see that we were pushing hard-- and this went back before my time-- to say that that's not a valid argument, that it might be on some lands, that land set that had oil and gas potential, that's another reason we concentrated on that was to combat that argument. That land that had oil and gas potential, we could make so much more money out of it than we would get at 90% matching share of the feds because or our leasing methods competitive and higher rentals and so forth, that it would return the state more than enough money to balance the loss of revenue.

But I think that you're right. About that time, people began to see that the state could stand on it own two feet. But the main push came from, I would say, Herbert and Kelly on making those final blocks of selections. And I think that it was about that time that the areas were being fixed. People were deciding what land the state would ultimately want. And then I think it actually was selected-- you give a date a while ago of '72 or something like that.

But as I recall, there was several-- they called them different things. At some they'd call them applications and expressions of interest at the BLM, all sort of different words, but the actual picking of that land and deciding what they wanted to do was done quite a bit before that. Chuck Herbert was very active in that.

Doug Schoenberg: The actual selection of the 77 million acres you're talking about now?

Pedro Denton: Yeah. He was very active in deciding on the areas.

Doug Schoenberg: And so even though there was a land freeze and the state was not filing any applications at all with-- or almost none-- with the BLM for selection, you're saying that there was an ongoing process to select the state to identify the lands they were going to select when they quit again?

Pedro Denton: Right. Yeah, we put a lot of effort into identifying those lands. And I know it-- when did the administration change? When did Herbert come in as commissioner?

Doug Schoenberg: The beginning of the administration would've been at the beginning of 1970-- no, at the end of 1970. It would've been December, 1970, that Egan administration started.

Pedro Denton: Yeah. We had started that before administration change. And then a lot of in-house talking on that, and I'm sure the commissioners were doing-- one time I sat down in a meeting with--

Doug Schoenberg: So that would've been started by Commissioner Kelly, then.

Pedro Denton: Yeah, yeah. And I remember that he had them all mapped out and a bunch of applications all made out. Bob Cross could probably give you some good background on that.

Doug Schoenberg: You've been very helpful. [INAUDIBLE].

Pedro Denton: But as I recall, we had that stuff all mapped out. As far as my involvement, which was mainly from a resource viewpoint, we had done a lot of work and decided on what areas that we were going to push for. And they had a lot of paperwork prepared and money ready for filing fees and all that kind of junk you know. And they were waiting on some magic date that they had in mind would affect them legally.

And then I don't remember for sure what happened, but I remember that when Herbert came in, he continued that process and went into it in a little more depth. I remember sitting in a meeting with Herbert and Bill Fackler, who was deputy commissioner at the time, and a whole bunch of other resource people. The oil and gas people were there. The hard mineral people were there. The foresters were there. The key department people were in the meeting.

Bill and Herbert had already gone through and had done a lot of work with the other departments. I remember they had a lot of information that they had gotten from Fish and Game on what particular game management units they would like to be incorporated in selections. And we were working under some restrictions that I thought were kind of bad at the time, which was instructions not to get anywhere that it might involve native lands, which made some holes in the eventual selection pattern that shouldn't have been in there.

But aside from some political-type problems like that, there was just sort of an open forum. Let's pick the best lands for the state that we can because this may be our last shot at it. And I thought it was pretty good [INAUDIBLE].

Doug Schoenberg: That meeting that you're making reference to--

Pedro Denton: Well, as you said, it was an ongoing thing, But yeah, we did it in several--

Doug Schoenberg: You're not referring to the [INAUDIBLE]-- there was a meeting that was carried on here in the McCabe building annex in January of '72, just before the 77 million acres were swept. You're not referring to that or you are referring to that meeting?

Pedro Denton: It might have been. I remember that we had more than one meeting on it.

Doug Schoenberg: I see. But there was one-- I guess marathon meet-up-- when the final decisions were made about which lands to select and that 77 million acre group, which was supposed to have finished the state's entitlement selection. And I gather that during the discussion that McIley was here as the cartographer marking up the map as the discussion went on, and then it was turned over to the people who identified it by township and put it on the application to turn over to BLM. So do you think that's the meeting you were referring to?

Pedro Denton: Yeah. That's probably the final meeting.

Doug Schoenberg: Was your expertise predominantly in oil and gas or hard rock minerals or both?

Pedro Denton: Well, no. My training was in hard rock minerals. But when we got to drawing the lines, we utilized people who were certainly more expert than I was on which areas had the most potential, primarily from the oil division of Oil and Gas and the Division of Mines and Geology. It changed names how many times I couldn't keep up with it. But those were the department arm experts and we used those when we said, OK, we want to select for oil and gas potential. Which areas have the best or what lines are we going to have to draw to include it, that kind of thing.

Doug Schoenberg: I'm under the impression that in the early years there was very little selection of hard rock minerals.

Pedro Denton: Right.

Doug Schoenberg: And then by this time in '72, the meeting we're discussing, that that was one of the major foci of the discussion was where were hard rock mineral areas of potential when selections could be made. So when did that attitude change about choosing hard rock mineral areas instead of leaving it under..?

Pedro Denton: Well, I, again, you see--

Doug Schoenberg: I was just wondering if there was any point--

Pedro Denton: Yeah, I don't really think that that ever occurred. I think that what happened was the decision was that we're liable to lose our entitlement, that the land is liable to be picked over before we can get ours. So we'd better go choose the best.

Now, what would normally happen-- and this is why minerals would normally predominate in those decisions and a lot of people that would come away disgruntled. Well, all they did was strike the first oil and gas potential. And the same thing would apply to hard rock. But what would usually happen is you'd sit down and some guy would say, well, yeah, we think this would make a good park unit in hear or we think this would make a good forest unit or we think this is a key wildlife habitat unit. And so that then would turn up to be in an area that had oil and gas or mineral potential.

Well, so then you had another factor on which to draw the boundaries. Usually, the boundaries that you would draw on the basis of the minerals would be a much larger boundary and be all-encompassing of those other things, you see. So the discussions would break down then.

OK, so we'd start this discussion, you see, and then Herbert would say, oh, yeah, OK. We want to select that area. That's the area. How do we define it? So the first thing you know, the whole discussion is broken down into a discussion of where the boundaries of the mineral province is. So people would come away with the impression that all it was selected for it was its hard rock mineral potential. But that wasn't the case. You see what I'm saying?

Doug Schoenberg: Yes, I am.

Pedro Denton: Yeah. And it has always surprised me that the people who were involved in it would not realize the process that we'd gone through when we did that. But I have heard that so many times-- all we selected that for was the hard rock potential. That wasn't the case at all. It was just that once you got down to defining the unit--

Now, I'm not saying that there weren't some units that was-- because when you got down to the end, looking at the limitations we had, not infringing on any of the native rights at all, when you got down to the end it was pretty hard to pick 77 million acres that anybody wanted at that time. Nobody was too enthusiastic about most of that stuff. So there were some areas that were selected, but a lot of the selection process worked out just the way I explained it, that it ended up that the selection unit boundaries were decided by mineral potential because of these other things.

Doug Schoenberg: I see. So it was really most discussions were made on the basis of interest in several resources.

Pedro Denton: Yes. I don't ever recall us sitting down and saying, hey, we're just going to select it for mineral potential. We talked about these other things and then it became a question of, OK, we want to select in this area. How do we define the boundaries of what we want?

And so sometimes I recall adjusting boundaries. Like, we wouldn't be too hard on the oil and gas potential in an area, but Fish and Game would say, well, geez, you've taken half the moose range or the whatever. Why not take the rest? We said, OK, it's got some mineral potential, not the best, but we might as well go ahead and take that, too. So that kind of thing is done.

Doug Schoenberg: With that particular example you were giving me, were you thinking of a particular parcel of land?

Pedro Denton: No. But this was the kind of process we went through. And it was usually with a small group of guys.

Doug Schoenberg: I think it's true what you were saying, that a lot of people even who participated in it seem to look back and recall selections as having been made primarily on the basis of oil and gas, that kind of thing, because I've gotten a lot of response like that.

Pedro Denton: Yeah.

Doug Schoenberg: So you recall that there was a lot of discussion of what lands would be selected even during the freeze period, even when very few selections were being made. And so your people would have been prepared when the decision was made at the end of '68-- or at the end of '71, beginning of '72, to make that large selection. You'd already identified areas that you were interested in.

Pedro Denton: I think that our process started some time in about the same time we started that Bristol Bay deal. The 10-year time alerted us to, hey, there's some-- we no longer can sit here and forget about it, and we started doing some pushing from a mineral viewpoint. And our degree of preparedness became greater as we went along, but I would say that the push to consider all the mineral areas that we thought we might ultimately want to select from an oil and gas viewpoint came in there at the time we started that process on the Bristol Bay selection.

Doug Schoenberg: So at that time, say, in late '68, when the large Bristol Bay selection was made, you were still only discussing what lands might be of interest from oil and gas, and not from hard rock mineral.

Pedro Denton: Right. What we were doing was we were trying to overcome what seemed to be a reluctance to select land. And we had this thing there that gave that some urgency.

Doug Schoenberg: When you say "we," you mean--

Pedro Denton: The mineral people.

Doug Schoenberg: I'm sorry. I interrupted you.

Pedro Denton: Yeah, it was the mineral people, myself and the guys in oil and gas. And so you know we sat around, OK, where would be-- if we could select for oil and gas potential alone, where would we like to select? And we did quite a bit of informal discussion along that line. And then I sort of carried the ball on pushing for that. And we were always pretty united as far as the two divisions go, the mineral section and the division of oil and gas, as to what we should do. And we were using that as a lever to generate some thinking on that, and I think we probably had a large part to play in people started to think about that a little bit earlier than they would have otherwise.

But what was triggering us was the 10-year-- was that the time to select lands under mineral lease running out. So we started considering that we had to look at all of the oil and gas potential areas to see if they ultimately fitted it into the state's selection plans. And if they did, then you'd better select them now was going to be our approach. Well, that was our approach.

I wish I could tell you the files. If you'd go over the D Min (Div. of Minerals) sometimes, there should be in their historical file a selection file that might have some of those old memos in there that would show what was being done in a more formal manner. But I'm pretty certain that this is the general approach we were using.

But you see, now, you've got to keep in mind that all we were was a section in the division. And it would have been no different if somebody had wanted to select lands for forestry potential, except nobody was that interested. Same deal. We were just generating the idea which had to go through the director and into the department and all of the other people that would be involved and get their input.

Doug Schoenberg: Do you have any recollections of-- any specific recollections of parcels of land that were selected at various times with a view towards oil and gas potential that you recommended and pushed for?

Pedro Denton: Well, we need a bunch of North Slope selections, to as I recall I recall.

Doug Schoenberg: Yeah. Well, the original North Slope selection was made before you started. That was made in January of '64. But then the large selections at the end of '68, beginning of '69--

Pedro Denton: Well, that was--

Doug Schoenberg: I think, like, one and 1/2 million acres was selected up there, south of the original selection.

Pedro Denton: Yeah. I think that that's about the major selections that were made between the time I started, and the final process there was the Bristol Bay, the North Slope. It seems to me that we'd run into special problems down on the Kenai where they'd already selected areas-- we'd like for you to round out this corner, type thing-- and some down and around the gulf, Yakutat, down through there. I believe that was all. But didn't we select a block in the Copper River?

Doug Schoenberg: Yes. Yes, that was about at that same time.

Pedro Denton: Was that a large block?

Doug Schoenberg: That was, I think, something like a million and a half acres.

Pedro Denton: When was that selected?

Doug Schoenberg: Right in December '68, January '69, about the same time.

Pedro Denton: That was part of the same deal, yeah. We probably did a lot to push for that. And as I recall, everybody thought that'd be a good area to burn the acreage on so that was no big deal.

Doug Schoenberg: Everybody thought-- everybody in the--

Pedro Denton: Divisions. No big resistance to that.

Doug Schoenberg: I see.

Pedro Denton: A lot of people didn't like the Bristol Bay selections.

Doug Schoenberg: Because?

Pedro Denton: Well, I guess they thought it was a wasteland.

Doug Schoenberg: Because they didn't think that there was--

Pedro Denton: Well, at that time, we were still in that reluctance of what does the state want to select for. We still had some of that around.

Doug Schoenberg: It's interesting because you referred to a reluctance within the division to select, and one would have imagined, just from a brief knowledge of the historical situation, that there would have been-- that division of lands would have been chomping at the bit because here they were being restrained by Udall's land freeze. They couldn't select even if they wanted to and usually that kind of thing would bring about a reaction against people. Hey, you can't tell me I can't do this when I already have the right to do it under the Statehood Act.

Pedro Denton: Yeah. Well, I think that that evolved all right. Now, I don't remember exactly when those Bristol Bay selections were made, for instance. But the process probably went on a year before that. And trying to get the decision made and all that, and that's about the time that the reluctance started melting away. People did start getting the idea that your talking about. We just never dreamed that you could give it and take it away that way, I guess.

Doug Schoenberg: Yeah. Yeah. So when the 77 million acres were selected, there was quite a considerable legal wrangle. I mean, the state filed suit in federal court against some of the withdrawals that were done. And at one point, it was like the Department of Interior wasn't going to recognize the 77 million acres of selections at all. Did you participate in any way in the negotiations that went on that summer, in the summer of '72, about--

Pedro Denton: Well, yeah. I was involved in some of the discussions, but I didn't take any real active role in that.

Doug Schoenberg: Well, the agreement, the memo of understanding between the Department of Interior and the state of Alaska in which the state relinquished, I think, something like 36 million acres and got to keep 40 million acres of the earlier selections, do you remember anything about the process? Were you aware when those negotiations were going on that summer? And I believe there may have been going on in Washington, although I'm not sure.

Pedro Denton: Yeah. Yeah, somewhat. I was not too involved in that. But yeah, I remember that these plans were being made. I don't know to what degree they had internal review. My memory gets difficult on that because I was fairly close friends with both Herbert and Kelly. Being mineral people, we spent a lot of time together other than just purely for business purposes, discussing things. And so yeah, I remember it, but I don't remember if there was any formal involvement or not. I can't say.

Doug Schoenberg: I see. After the '72 selections, there wasn't very much selected for quite a long time. There was a large selection in March of '74, but not large by previous scale, I mean, just a million acres or so. And then not again until, I believe, after you left-- I don't think the next selections were made until '77. So do you have any recollection during that period of being consulted about lands that might be selected for mineral purposes?

Pedro Denton: Well, yeah, at some point the consulting process became more formal. I don't remember the timing on this. As the planning division or whatever they were called at that point got involved and took over, the review process became more formal and a lot of this stuff was routed around.

Doug Schoenberg: Would that have been after the beginning of the Hammond administration?

Pedro Denton: Yeah. I don't remember dates there, but yeah. Most of that stuff was certainly not done under cover. And then there was staff discussion and all that kind of stuff. My involvement became less and less as other people picked up the ball and carried it. I never considered that a primary responsibility of mine. And all I ever did [INTERPOSING VOICES]--

Doug Schoenberg: That being selections?

Pedro Denton: Pardon?

Doug Schoenberg: Selections was that--

Pedro Denton: Right. And all I ever did was where I saw a special problem that I thought involved my area of responsibility and my area of responsibility was going to be affected, then I tried to push. And that's what I did on the mineral selections and the considering the mineral areas and so forth. But once that ball was picked up in the formal review process with mineral experts in oil and gas and mines and geology and so forth were being considered, I really sort of dropped out of the picture. I was another one on their list, but I really didn't have that much input after that.

Doug Schoenberg: I see. And by the time the Hammond administration came on, that would have been about the time that they created a separate division.

Pedro Denton: Yeah. They had some groups assigned to it, as I recall, before that. But as I recall, they went back and sort of re-examined the whole package in a more formal way.

Doug Schoenberg: Re-examined the selections that had already been made.

Pedro Denton: Yeah.

Doug Schoenberg: Also, once the divisional was formed, what was your position at that point? You said Easy Galbraith was the director.

Pedro Denton: At about that point was when I had decided to become a fisherman and I was just sort of finishing out my days there for about a year. I took my annual leave, and so I don't remember what day I left, even. But by the time the new division was formed, I had already made my decision or given my notice to them that I was quitting. So I stuck around there for another six months or a year, as I recall.

Doug Schoenberg: What was your reason for deciding to leave state employment?

Pedro Denton: It wasn't interesting anymore.

Doug Schoenberg: Fishing sounded better.

Pedro Denton: Yeah.

Doug Schoenberg: There are days when I feel like that, too. I'm trying think of--

Pedro Denton: You get tired of that after a few years. It wears you down.

Doug Schoenberg: Yeah. I can imagine, especially in those days when the staff in the department was so small. I think a lot of people had a hell of a lot more responsibilities and they could really deal with.

Pedro Denton: That's right.

Doug Schoenberg: I'm trying to think if there's anything else they need to be asking you about. Do you have any other particular recollections of any participation in the selection process?

Pedro Denton: No. I don't know what you're doing, but at one time, we used to have a long debate every so often. People would get confused over what happened on the original Slope selections. I made up a little file in D Min (Div. of Minerals) and I believe it's still there. I did some work for them last year and went through some of the files, and I believe I saw that one. But there should be a file in D Min (Div. of Minerals) on the history of the North Slope selections.

Doug Schoenberg: You're talking about the first North Slope selection.

Pedro Denton: Right.

Doug Schoenberg: So you did some kind of research back into files when you started, or after you came on, about actions that had taken place before you were there.

Pedro Denton: Yeah. And if you're doing that part, the original North Slope selections were primarily a mineral consideration. And you can find-- there's a pretty good history of it there. I dug up everything that I think exists on it in writing and put it in one file because that was something that came up every so often.

Doug Schoenberg: I wish I had spoken to you sooner. I would have liked to have seen that earlier in the project than now. Yeah, I will go over there and look for that. Do you know of anybody that I should speak to over there about that? That might know where they are?

Pedro Denton: I tell you, when I was there, it was hard to find anybody that knew the files. I still knew them better than anybody else around there just from-- but now let me see. God, I can't remember how they're set up. But there is a file that the title of the file is something like North Slope Selections, Historical, or something along that line, in there. You might have a hard time finding it, but it's there.

Doug Schoenberg: OK. And you saw it, like, a year ago?

Pedro Denton: Yeah.

Doug Schoenberg: That's useful.

Pedro Denton: Pete Nelson might be able to-- she was a little more familiar with the file arrangement. She might be able to tell you where that is, too.

Doug Schoenberg: Nelson?

Pedro Denton: Yeah.

Doug Schoenberg: What was her first name?

Pedro Denton: Pete.

Doug Schoenberg: P-E-T-E?

Pedro Denton: Yeah. Her name's Ethel Jared. She worked there for me for years.

Doug Schoenberg: But she goes by the name of Pete.

Pedro Denton: Yeah. She works for Texaco. But she could probably tell you better where that file would be than I could.

Doug Schoenberg: She's not with D Min (Div. of Minerals), she's with Texaco now.

Pedro Denton: Right.

Doug Schoenberg: I see. OK. No last thoughts about-- I think the main impetus behind my project is, first of all, from a perspective of it's a subject of historical interest. And I think also there was some hope that some of my research might turn up information that wasn't well-known to people who had responsibility for managing these lands now. So any new information is useful. So do you have any other parting thoughts that you think might be useful to my studies?

Pedro Denton: No. As far as information that might be useful to other people, I think it was all done very informally and a lot of the information came out of people's heads and from their experience and so forth. And so as far as getting anything that going to help much that way, I would say, you're not going to find any.

Doug Schoenberg: OK. Thank you very much. I appreciate you spending this time with me.

Pedro Denton: OK.

Doug Schoenberg: Take care. Bye.

Pedro Denton: Bye.

Page last updated 04/10/2020