# Press Release from BHIGR

```I'm posting this release that I received this morning, I found it
interesting and thought it might spur some debate.
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How Much Public Land - How Many Fossils?
Marion K. Zenker, Legislative Liaison
American Land Access Association & American Association of Paleontological
Suppliers
12/10/97

As you investigate the question of who should be allowed to collect on the
public lands managed by the Federal Government, a few accurate figures as
to the amount of land that entails may help to bring some rationality to
the debate.  A recent article written by Alexandra Zavis of Chicago and
picked up by the AP early in November provides the information that there
are a "half-billion acres of land owned by the Federal Government" on which
only scientists are presently allowed to collect vertebrate fossils.

Here is an example of how much land that really is and how long it will
take to walk over it just once in search of fossils.  Assume you have an
exposed fossil bearing area, level enough to systematically search the area
on a uniform grid pattern.  If you measure out a one-square mile area (1
square mile equals 640 acres or 1 section of land), lay out a grid of 9
foot wide sections (assuming that you can see 4.5 feet on each side of you
well enough to check for fossils) and begin walking that grid - if you
cover 20 miles a day, it will take one person just over 29 days to examine
that one square mile area.  This is just looking for fossils, not stopping
to examine or collect any that you might find.

One-half billion acres equals 780,000 square miles.  At one square mile
every 29 days (assuming the rate of 20 miles per day) it will take 62,600
years for one person to simply look for the exposed fossils on the
half-billion acres of lands in the United States.  Add that to the example
provided by Dr. Charles Love that one-half mile of one fossil bearing
formation - the Green River Formation - contains more then 12 billion
fossil fish - and you begin to understand just how many fossils need
finding.  Therefore, the logical conclusion is that we need many people
looking and finding and collecting if we are to save even a small
percentage of this abundant resource for science or display or sale.

For city dwellers, these figures may better be visualized by calculating
the distance thus: in most cities, one mile equals the length of 12 city
blocks and the width of an alley would be about the 9 foot swath that is
being searched.  The fossil searcher would have to walk the equivalent of
240 city blocks (20 miles) every day for 29.5 days to cover the same area
as one square mile in the field.

So how mush longer would it take if these searchers were walking across
rough terrain and actually stopping to examine even one fossil per mile?
It is obvious that we need literally thousands of people out there looking
and collecting and even then we will save only a very small percentage of
the fossils on this half billion acres from the sun, wind, snow, and rain.
George Winters, President
Global Expos
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