NPS Paleontology Research Abstract Volume


The National Park Service represents a land managing agency of the federal government that is committed towards preservation and responsible management of natural and cultural resources. During the 1980s and early 1990s the National Park Service has taken the lead in developing comprehensive paleontological resource management strategies. Through the efforts of park paleontologists Ted Fremd (John Day Fossil Beds National Monument) and Dan Chure (Dinosaur National Monument), a set of guidelines and policies have been established for the management of fossils in national parks.

Fossil Resource Conferences hosted by the National Park Service at Dinosaur National Monument, in 1986, and Petrified Forest National Park, in 1988, have provided a forum for communication between education of NPS personnel working in fossil parks. The publication, "Park Paleontology", first released in 1991, has further provided a means of communication between professional paleontologists and fossil park managers and staff. The communication network that has been established provides a more organized and credible voice for Paleontological Resource issues.

The significance of fossils and the special needs related to the management of fossil resources has gained greater recognition in the NPS over the last few years. Over 100 national parks and monuments have been identified that manage, interpret and curate fossils. During 1991, Fossil Butte National Monument and Petrified Forest National Park, hired permanent staff paleontologists. In 1992, newly established Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument has also hired a permanent staff paleontologist and Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument has created a seasonal paleontologist position.

The NPS paleontologists have worked closely with paleontologists and land managers from other agencies in their attempts to develop paleontological resource management policies and guidelines. Additionally, three park paleontologists are members of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology's Government Liaison Committee. NPS paleontologists were also represented at the North American Paleontological Convention Roundtable Discussion entitled, "Paleontology on Public Lands", along with representatives of the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

The direction in the management of fossils in national parks has been one of intensive field monitoring, inventory and salvage. Further, scientific research by paleontologists has not only been permitted, but promoted in the national parks. The NPS philosophy, applied towards the management of fossils, provides the potential for areas where scientists can study fossil deposits that have not been pillaged by illegal fossil collection.

This Third Fossil Resource Conference could not convene at a better time. With the new NPS paleontologists coming on board, the constant turnover of park staff in the fossil parks, and the recent introduction of important paleontological resource protection legislation, it is time again to convene and to continue the evolution of the paleontological resource management program of the NPS. The participation of many representatives from other land managing agencies and professional paleontologists will permit discussion directed to the broader needs of, perhaps, a Federal Paleontology Program.

The staff at Fossil Butte National Monument, Dave McGinnis and Rachel Benton are to be congratulated for taking the initiative in organizing this important conference. An additional thanks to all of the researchers who have helped us to further understand the paleontological resources in our parks and this volume is dedicated to them.

Vincent L. Santucci
Petrified Forest National Park

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United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service