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Re: Alberta Law and dinos




On Sun, 19 Jun 1994, Dieter Birk wrote:

> I am new to this mail list and therefor may be dredging up old
> issues but:
> I was reading Mark V.H. Wilson's article "Paleontology in Alberta:
> A case of Excessive Regulation" in the booklet "Alberta, Studies in the
> Arts and Sciences, Vol.1, No.1, 1988. (University of Alberta).
>  Much of the book deals with the wonderful Royal Tyrrell Museum of
> Paleontology, situated in Drumheller, Alberta.  The museum is a great
> legacy to the $ multi-billion Heritage Fund, financed by the Oil Boom.
> Impressive. But Wilson's article struck a negative note when discussing
> the laws in Alberta with respect to collection of paleontological
> specimens.  The law of July 5, 1978 essentially makes all fossils the
> property of the Provincial Gov't and requires registration of private
> collections and potential confiscation.
> 
> I had the opportunity 2 years ago to visit some of the rock shops and
> local collectors of Drumheller. It was a sad affair. Rather than praise
> the virtues of the Royal Tyrrell, the shop owners said that it was the
> worste thing to happen to Drumheller since the coal mines closed.
> Apparently, the local tourist economy has been virtually destroyed.
> Most tourists are so overwelmed by the meg-displays at Tyrrell and the
> wonderful gift shop, they don't bother to enter the town of Drumheller
> or the local Chamber of Commerce museum. They go back to Calgary or
> Edmonton after Tyrrell.  The government has confiscated the local
> tourist trade.
> 
> When my wife and I got married in the tiny church located in the
> Badlands (near Tyrrell) back in 1969, the area was a mecca for
> rockhounds.  The local merchants provided "grass roots" enthusiasm
> and guidance and everyone prospered.  Now with Tyrrell and the new
> collection laws, nobody is collecting and the Tyrrell caters to the
> Jurassic Park crowd rather than the field naturalists.
> 
> Local collectors tell me horror stories of specimens that were
> registered with the government and then conveniently "lost".
> 
> The best collections of fossils and minerals in the museums of the world
> were not assembled by professionals.  They are the labour of love of
> hobbyists.   The museum located in downtown Drumheller was created by
> local hobby efforts without Heritage Fund $ millions.  They deserve
> recognition for fostering public awareness for the decades before
> Tyrrell.  Furthermore, the paleontologists at Tyrrell are more
> interested in travels to China and the Arctic at public expense.  Why
> not free the local rockhounds to finding good stuff at home?  If
> rockhounds don't collect each season, the weathering of the
> Edmonton formation will destroy the specimens anyway.
> 
> The conservation of rare fossils is a laudable goal but the destruction
> of amateur collection and the local tourist economy is not.
> 
> ------------------------ using wcUUCP -----------------------------
>   )\ "/(    My  Schnauzer "Silva" is co-sysop 'cause she bytes.
>     (^)           Dieter Birk, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
>      #      GeoFuel GeoScience BBS: (905) 829-4097; (905) 829-0858
> ---------------------- dbirk@geofuel.north.net --------------------


I'm no expert on the pros and cons of Government collecting laws.  All I
can say is that probably nobody has yet found the "right" compromise
between the interests of private collectors, scientists, and the unwashed
masses.  We need to do a lot more communicating and thinking.

_However_, I have visited Drumheller three times in the pre-Tyrell days,
and twice since and I find it a _much_ more satisfying experience now. 
(And I wouldn't see Jurassic Park if you paid me to go!).  I don't think
the Museum has yet had its full effect on the local economy, but the town
pre-Tyrrell and post-coal mining seemed to me to be rather sad and drab
and tacky.  I see improvements.  

I would welcome the thoughts of others on this subject, as I'm a
geographer with an interest in Community Development......

Jane Hughes
jhughes@spartan.ac.brocku.ca