Press Release: Board of Supervisors Remembers the Contributions of Paul Babbitt Jr.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Coconino County Board of Supervisors and County Manager’s Office were saddened to hear of the passing of Paul Babbitt, Jr. Babbitt spent his entire career working for the people of Northern Arizona. He was appointed to the Coconino County Board of Supervisors in 1986 and served District 1 through 2004. He was also a member of the Flagstaff City Council from 1976-1984, Vice Mayor from 1978-1980, and Mayor from 1980-1984. Babbitt understood the needs of Northern Arizona. He and his family are known for their long history in the community dating back to the late 1800s and family businesses in ranching, general stores, and trading posts.


“Paul Babbitt’s commitment to preserving and protecting public lands and maintaining a voice for local government is inspiring,” said Jeronimo Vasquez, Chair of the Board and Supervisor for District 2. “His contributions to Northern Arizona will never be forgotten or taken for granted.”

His impact in Coconino County runs deep after 18 years of service on the Board of Supervisors. He was instrumental in ensuring the success of many projects including:

  • Designating the Grand Canyon Escalante National Park
  • Closing White Vulcan Mine
  • Securing property for The Arboretum at Flagstaff
  • Preserving Dry Lake
  • Implementing the inaugural version of the Coconino County Comprehensive Plan
  • Representing Northern Arizona in the Arizona Growing Smarter Initiative
  • Representing Northern Arizona in the Arizona Preserve Initiative
  • Identifying state trust lands for preservation
  • Leading the “Keep the Lights on in Tusayan” campaign
  • Creating the opportunity for local communities to have a voice in land planning decisions
  • Protecting 34,480 acres of land south of the Grand Canyon from mining, subdivision, and development through a conservation easement
  • Advocating for conservation and environmental issues throughout his life
  • Participating in the creation of CREC – Coconino Rural Environment Corps
  • Ensuring that issues like public health, the environment, open space and greenways were incorporated in the inaugural Regional Plan
  • Approving the Coconino County Capital Plan of 1997-2004 that saw service expansions in new facilities including the 1999-2002 Coconino County Courthouse additions and remodel that preserved the original 1894 structure, the Health and Human Services Building at King Street, the co-location of the Sheriff’s Office and Flagstaff Police Department in the Law Enforcement Administrative Facility (LEAF), along with the new Coconino County Jail on Sawmill, the Juvenile Services Center, the 110 Building in downtown Flagstaff, the Williams Justice Center, the Page Health Center and the Sheriff’s Substation and Holding Facility in Page
  • Expanding parks and open space  through the Coconino County Parks and Open Space (CPOS) plan, including the Fort Tuthill Amphitheatre, the acquisition of Rogers Lake, Fort Tuthill fairgrounds and park expansions and renovations across the County, including Louise Yellowman Park in Tuba City, the redevelopments to Raymond Park in Kachina Village and to Cataract Lake County Park in Williams, the acquisition and development of Peaks View Park in Doney Park, the acquisition and development of numerous trails and trail amenities across the County, and Navajo interpretive sites at Little Colorado Gorge and Chocolate Falls
  • Founding member, transitioning to an emeritus member, of the Friends of Coconino County Parks
  • Building relationships with the Cities in the County and other jurisdictions including the USFS
  • Developing the Flagstaff Community Wildfire Protection Plan (GWPP) with the Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership (GFFP) to protect the greater Flagstaff area and beyond from wildfire

“Paul had a deep love of public service which extended throughout his life,” said Patrice Horstman, Coconino County District 1 Supervisor. “We lost a giant and his legacy will be everlasting.”

At the Board of Supervisors meetings Babbitt was thoughtful and contemplative. He would always give the history of the issue before giving other comments.  But, if “yes” or “no” would do, he’d leave it at that when appropriate.

“He was always working to pull people together for better solutions,” said Matt Ryan, former Coconino County District 3 Supervisor. “He was my mentor and a mentor for all his colleagues. He was a man of few words, but he spoke volumes with those few words.”

Paul Babbitt, Jr. passed away on April 4 of causes related to his downwinder cancer diagnosis.

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