Paleontological Resources Management
Roles and Responsibilities
The Director of the National Park Service establishes and approves servicewide paleontological resource policies and standards. The Director is ultimately responsible for establishing paleontological resource programs that conserve these resources unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations and for ensuring that such programs are in compliance with directives, policies, and laws.
The Associate Director, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science (ADNRSS), has functional authority, through the Natural Resources Program Center, for
- developing policies and standards for the Director’s approval;
- providing policy oversight of NPS paleontological resource programs, including evaluating the results of field performance in complying with directives, policies, and laws;
- providing direct assistance to parks in specific program areas; and
- administering paleontological programs for which the ADNRSS has direct authority.
As a component of the Natural Resources Program Center, the Geologic Resources Division has responsibility for
- administering the NPS paleontological resource program and carrying out functional oversight within assigned program areas;
- developing servicewide paleontological resource regulations, policies, guidelines and standards to help parks conduct effective paleontological resource management;
- developing and maintaining servicewide paleontological databases;
- providing paleontological training and technical support to field areas;
- coordinating NPS paleontology publications, through the Natural Resources Information Division;
- coordinating paleontological research in NPS areas;
- establishing partnerships related to paleontological resource management (e.g., with museums, academic institutions, and other federal and state agencies); and
- assisting park planners in developing strategies for paleontological resource issues.
The Division of Museum Services Washington Office
- develops guidance and policy concerning the management and preservation of museum collections (see section on Collections in Chapter 5 of this reference manual).
The regional director, through or with the assistance of an assistant or associate regional director
- ensures that paleontological resource programs within the region are uniformly implemented in compliance with directives, policies, and law; and
- identifies regional coordinators and contacts for specific program areas, where required, who can provide information and data about park paleontological resources and paleontological resource programs to the Natural Resources Program Center or the Division of Museum Services.
Support office natural resource staff and/or cluster or regional natural resource program coordinators assist parks in
- needs identification;
- data collection and analysis;
- planning, program, and project development;
- scientific and paleontological resource management issues; and
- obtaining peer review for paleontological research proposals if necessary.
The superintendent is responsible for
- understanding the park’s paleontological resources and their condition;
- establishing and managing park paleontological resource programs and ensuring that they comply with directives, policies, and laws; and
- approving all paleontological planning documents and research proposals.
The park paleontologist (or, if there not one on staff, the park natural resource manager, with the assistance of professional paleontologists) has primary responsibility for managing and protecting park paleontological resources on behalf of the superintendent, by
- carrying out needs assessments and planning;
- writing sections on paleontological resources in relevant management documents (scope of collection statements, resource management plans, paleontological research plans, etc.);
- evaluating research proposals;
- conducting field work and excavations; and
- serving as a liaison between the NPS and the professional paleontological community.