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Re: State paleontologists

>>It would be nice if major collection areas had a digger "on-call",
>>as it were, to check out reports and determine priorities as soon
>>as a fossil is discovered.  Maybe 1-800-FOUNDIT.
>Actually, several (mostly western) states have official State
>Paleontologists, who do pretty much just that.  Additionally, some of the
>major public lands regions with important fossil localities (primarily the
>various National Parks and National Monuments), have paleontologists on

Tom et al -

        Yes, most of the western states have state paleontologists, but
these paleontologists by themselves can and do accomplish very little in
terms of the sheer amount of work that _really_ needs to get done!  They
have to supervise every site on public land in that state, and in states
riddled with fossils like Utah and Wyoming, that is a _lot_ of material!  I
can't speak for all states, but I know that Dave Gillette in Utah has a
group, the Utah Friends of Paleontology, who do many of those digs for him.
It's a volunteer group virtually in its entirety; Dave just pops his head
in on the digs once or twice and lets the trained volunteers do the work.
Unfortunately, a bill currently on the floor before the Utah state House to
allot a one-time $20,000 to set up proper facilities and a training course
for additional volunteers appears that it won't pass.  On top of that, the
Utah state legislature is behaving in typical political fashion and
ignoring the importance of paleontological resources in another area:  the
land on which the famed Yellowcat quarry (from which _Utahraptor_ and
_Gastonia_ were found) is held in state "school trust;" after this coming
field season, the government is aiming to sell (rent, really) the land and
the quarry to commercial collectors to raise money for the state schools.
This bill has already passed the House and looks to pass the Senate, next.

        C'est la guerre, I suppose...

Jerry D. Harris
Denver Museum of Natural History
2001 Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO  80205
(303) 370-6403

Internet:  jdharris@teal.csn.net
CompuServe:  73132,3372
        "I repainted the picture Brown had painted for us.  A dying,
shrinking lake...these great...behemoths...dying..."
        "Well," she said, "all you tell me may be so...but I still can't
see why such creatures would have wanted to do it in the first place."
        "Do what, ma'am?"
        "Why, crawl away back under all that rock to die."

-- Roland T. Bird, _Bones for Barnum Brown_