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Mammoth Area Will Be Closed For Winter

Mammoth Area Will Be Closed For Winter

GRANGEVILLE, Idaho (AP) - A dry lake bed where mammoth fossils have been found
will be prepared for winter, officials have decided.

About three dozen representatives of private, state and federal interests
decided at a meeting Tuesday that a plan is needed to best recover the remains
of six or seven mammoths and an ancient bison. They were found in the bed of
Tolo Lake, which was dry this summer.

The goal is to write a plan and find money to do the job right next summer.

The discovery of the mammoth fossils captivated both north central Idaho
residents and scientists.

Since announcement of the discovery two weeks ago, Idaho State Historical
Society, University of Idaho, and Idaho Museum of Natural History officials have
directed efforts to survey the find and recover the exposed bones.

The dig attracted more than 2,500 visitors during the last two Saturdays and
scores of others who visited the dry lakebed at other times. The weekend tours
are done for the year but will resume next summer.

Officials at the meeting focused on more immediate tasks, such as how to protect
the fossils from theft and the forces of nature.

Unprotected, the fragile fossils could disintegrate in a week from freezing and
thawing during the fall and winter.

William Akersten, the state museum's curator of vertebrate paleontology at
Pocatello, said the dig offers a chance to recruit school children as future

"This is a great way to say science is neat, science is fun; and it's also a lot
of work," he said.

A mammoth fossil site at Hot Springs, S.D., draws 100,000 visitors a year,
Akersten said. While the Tolo Lake location would make duplicating that draw
difficult, the South Dakota experience demonstrates the public's interest.

Jean'ne Shreeve, University of Idaho vice provost for research and graduate
studies, led a delegation from Moscow to the meeting.

She insisted that the university wants to play a major role in helping do the
dig right, including finding the money, and helping school children learn about
the discovery.

"The University of Idaho would be willing to support it as long as there is a
well-thought-out plan," Shreeve said. A plan will also help the search for
money, which should start quickly, she said.

Tuesday's five-hour meeting drew landowners, members of the Nez Perce Indian
Tribe, representatives of state agencies and federal agencies including the U.S.
Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department originally began the project to rehabilitate
a lake slowly choking on silt.