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Paleontological Resources Management

Policy and Program Objectives

Management Policies

NPS management policies relating to paleontological and paleoecological resources are as follows: Paleontological Resources and Their Contexts Paleontological resources, including both organic and mineralized remains in body or trace form, will be protected, preserved, and managed for public education, interpretation, and scientific research. The Service will study and manage paleontological resources in their paleoecological context (that is, in terms of the geologic data associated with a particular fossil that provides information about the ancient environment). Superintendents will establish programs to inventory paleontological resources and systematically monitor for newly exposed fossils, especially in areas of rapid erosion. Scientifically significant resources will be protected by collection or by on-site protection and stabilization. The Service will encourage and help the academic community to conduct paleontological field research in accordance with the terms of a scientific research and collecting permit. Fossil localities and associated geologic data will be adequately documented when specimens are collected. Paleontological resources found in an archeological context are also subject to the policies for archeological resources. Paleontological resources that are to be retained permanently are subject to the policies for museum objects. The Service will take appropriate action to prevent damage to, and unauthorized collection of, fossils. To protect paleontological resources from harm, theft, or destruction, the Service will ensure, where necessary, that information about the nature and specific location of these resources remains confidential, in accordance with the National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998.Parks will exchange fossil specimens only with other museums and public institutions dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of natural heritage and qualified to manage museum collections. Fossils to be deaccessioned in an exchange must fall outside of the park’s scope of collection statement. Exchanges must follow deaccession procedures in the Museum Handbook, Part II, chapter 6.The sale of original paleontological specimens is prohibited in parks.The Service generally will avoid purchasing fossil specimens. Casts or replicas should be acquired instead. A park may purchase fossil specimens for the park museum collection only after making a written determination that:

  • The specimens are scientifically significant, and are accompanied by detailed locality data and pertinent contextual data;The specimens were legally removed from their site of origin, and all transfers of ownership have been legal;The preparation of the specimens meets professional standards;The alternatives for making these specimens available to science and the public are unlikely; and
  • Acquisition is consistent with the park’s enabling legislation and Scope of Collection Statement, and will ensure the specimens’ availability in perpetuity for public education and scientific research.

Any National Park Service construction projects in areas with potential paleontological resources must be preceded by a pre-construction surface assessment prior to disturbance. For any occurrences noted, or when the site may yield paleontological resources, the site will be avoided, or the resources will, if necessary, be collected and properly cared for prior to the initiation of the construction disturbance. Areas with potential paleontological resources must also be monitored during construction projects.

Program Objectives

The paleontological resources management program objectives are to:

  1. identify paleontological resources within NPS units and evaluate their significance;systematically inventory and monitor paleontological resources and manage paleontological databases;study and manage paleontological resources in their paleoecological context;promote and coordinate paleontological research in NPS areas;maintain within each park unit a bibliography and copies of all publications that pertain to paleontological resources or paleontological localities within that unit;ensure that NPS paleontological collections are curated under NPS curatorial guidelines and are maintained in an appropriate park museum or NPS-approved outside repository;adequately protect significant resources such that their scientific, interpretive, and/or historical values are maintained; and
  2. enhance paleontological resource education and interpretation for the public by facilitating communication between researchers, resource managers, and interpreters.
Paleontological Resources Management Table of Contents | RM#77 Table of Contents
update on 02/05/2004  I   http://www.nature.nps.gov/rm77/paleo/PPO.cfm   I  Email: Contact Us
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