Dean Baker was a rancher, pilot, family man, a businessman, but most people knew him as a watchdog, to the Southern Nevada Water Authority.
Dean passed away Saturday, May 13th at a St. George, Utah, hospital from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 77. Baker was born Dec. 19, 1939, in Delta, Utah, where he learned to farm, ranch and fly an airplane solo by the age of 16.
In 1959, he moved to Snake Valley, on the Nevada-Utah border 300 miles northeast of Las Vegas, to help run a ranch his father had acquired there a few years earlier.
The town they settled in was also called Baker, but that was just a coincidence. Their cattle and alfalfa operation more than doubled in size over the past 20 years, consolidating what used to be a dozen separate ranches into a single, family-owned corporation operating on more than 12,000 acres on both sides of the state line.
The Las Vegas Water Grab, or more commonly known as the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) Clark, Lincoln and White Pine Counties Groundwater Development Project, surfaced in 1989 when Las Vegas filed on all the unappropriated groundwater in large areas of eastern and central Nevada. That included Snake Valley which teeters on the Nevada-Utah border. Dean Baker’s family ranch is located in Snake Valley in sight of Wheeler Peak and in the sights of SNWA’s rapacious water pipeline overreach. It was a bold move for Las Vegas in 1989, and if it weren’t for Dean Baker’s bold forward approach with project proponents, water would be going south by now, but it isn’t.
In 2003, Dean Baker was invited to be a “stakeholder” in SNWA’s Integrated Water…