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Help Save Dinosaur National Monument
Posted for Jim Kirkland.
This letter was forwarded to me from Utah Prof. Paleo Council for
distribution. Please read it and do your part to reopen DNM and build the
repository in Vernal, Utah.
A few years ago the NPS tried to end the paleo program by laying off all of
its paleontology staff. The huge public response to this action saved the
When the visitors center at the Carnegie Quarry was condemned last summer,
there were a few newspaper articles. However, the public response this time
has been a deafening silence.
DNM is the most famous fossil site in the world, for the United States to
let it get to this state, while China and other countries are building dozens
of such facilities around the world to preserve their own paleontological
heritage, is tragic! It will be closed and inaccessible for years, just
of the nature of the process. To lose the oldest paleontological program in
Utah though a lack of perceived interest would be more than tragic.
Please write to anyone who can help and forward this to anyone who might
James I. Kirkland Ph. D.
Utah Geological Survey
1594 West North Temple, Suite 3110
P.O. Box 146100
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-6100
(801) 537-3307 FAX (801) 537-3400
May 20, 2007
FROM: (YOUR NAME)
TO: ALL CONCERNED PARTIES (SEE ATTACHED LIST)
REGARDING: CHANGES AT DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT THAT IMPACT THE NATION AS
WELL AS NORTHEASTERN UTAH AND NORTHWESTERN COLORADO
Enclosed are data concerning facility developments and collection management
at Dinosaur National Monument and the impact of proposed plans nationally as
well as Vernal and surrounding communities in northeastern Utah and
Dinosaur National Monument was established on Oct. 4, 1915 by Presidential
Proclamation to preserve ââan extraordinary deposit of Dinosaurian and
gigantic reptilian remains of the Jurassic period, which are of great
scientific interest and value.â
The Quarry Visitor Center (DNM-QVC) was opened in 1958 as a premier Dinosaur
attraction, to national as well as international acclaim. In 2001 it was
given National Historic Landmark status. It should be a World Heritage Site.
Due to cumulative structural failures, the DNM-QVC was closed in July 2006.
With that closure, the paleontological community lost its most visible
attraction, and the educational community lost a great stepping stone for
scientists. Congressional funding was earmarked for renovation of this
facility with reopening on 100 anniversary of the quarryâs discovery--2009.
In addition, a partnership between Dinosaur National Monument, the Utah
Field House of Natural History State Park, as well as the Bureau of Land
Management (BLM) and US Forest Service (USFS) was established in 2001. This
in order to build a new repository meeting federal museum collection
standards in Vernal, UT for fossil resources from the National Park Service
well as other federal and state lands (Uinta Research and Curation Center).
NPS Management Policies (2001); Section 220.127.116.11 specifically address
âPaleontological 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.â
Although these projects were once very high on the facilities list,
financial commitments at the federal level (Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina)
caused these crucial facilities to be demoted on the National Park Service
agenda, Unfortunately, the Quarry Visitor Center, which was also on line to
be rehabilitated, was forced to close last year due to structural
DNMQ closures and the economic impact to NE UT and NW CO
1) With the closure of DNM-Quarry Visitor Center (QVC), normal visitation to
the area dropped dramatically âUtah Field House of Natural History State
Park visitation was cut in half from 100,000 per year to only 50,000 last
â If it is assumed that a minimum expenditure for a family of four is $100
per day of visit (knowing that motels are full), Vernal and regional
businesses are losing $2.5 to $10 million per year in revenue.
â Dinosaur National Monument lost more than $300,000 in visitation fees last
year alone- $10/car fees were discontinued in July 2006 when the Quarry
closed - assume 300,000 visitors @ 4/car, a loss of $750,000 for DNM each
â How many jobs were lost with the Quarry closure? DNM personnel as well as
support, and service groups have been impacted. How many more will be lost
if the Quarry is not revitalized? Vernal is economically stable now, but
energy development ebbs and flows. What will be left when that industry slows
â Will northeastern Utah dinosaur collections be lost forever? These
facilities (DNM-QVC and UFH) were built to keep these collections in the Uinta
Basin, for visitors to enjoy in perpetuity.
â A federal / state partnership was established in 2000 to build a joint
federal repository that would meet all DNM, BLM, USFS, and state fossil
collection needs. The building of the curation facility needs support from
effected â the entire community.
â The National Science Foundation favors partnerships like this one in
Uintah County. Joint use of storage facilities as well as shared research and
educational facilities can be used as granting tools for the NSF and other
federal granting agencies.
â Additional partnerships can be developed to further the goals of educating
the public as well as protection of the non-renewable resources highlighted
in museums exhibits (e.g., Ute Tribe, USU, UBATC, and other federal and state
agencies as well as public and corporate entities).
â The National Scenic Byway program could be tapped for additional federal
funding (Dinosaur National Monumentâs Quarry Visitor Center is a major facet
in TWO National Scenic Byways â Wildlife through the Ages and the Dinosaur
2) There is a DMN proposal to send dinosaur fossils currently stored
throughout DNM to Brigham Young University â particularly significant
(e.g., Allosaurus jimmadseni â which has not been officially named so is not
â Some DNM personnel claim there is no appropriate storage space in Vernal
the old museum site is currently being used by the state to store its
collections (some of which originated at DNM). The UFH has plenty of room for
exhibit items at the new museum and Uintah County Commissioners are willing to
let DNM use the other half of the old museum for storage of specimens until
new repository is built. They are even willing to upgrade security and fire
â Moving the fossils to BYU severely limits the chance that they will ever
return to Vernal. If the fossils are moved to BYU temporarily, they will need
to be brought back at some point â if the repository is ever built. Will
there be a need for a repository in Vernal if everything is in Provo?
â There would need to be two moves of very fragile materials â collections
and displays. The chances for damage to the type specimens as well as other
fragile dinosaur bones is heightened with each mile of travel â 20 miles to
Vernal vs. 350 mile round-trip to BYU
â Considerable costs associated with the move would more than double for the
trip out and back.
â The old museum has a workable preparation laboratory. Some upgrading
would be necessary, but DNM has state of the art equipment they could continue
use. In addition, they have a top-flight preparator on staff who can direct
DNM volunteers in the preparation of backlogged specimens from the Monument.
BYU uses students as volunteersâcheap, but transient. Many of the DNM
volunteers are long-standing and are professionally capable of recovering
significant fossil resources for future study.
â From a scientific research standpoint, BYU has not received National
Science Foundation funding, due to BYUâs restrictive hiring practices.
funds are not normally distributed to religious organizations.
â BYU Earth Science Museum has dinosaur fossils, but they are rarely visited
except by paleontologists. Most of their fossil storage is in an old
Albertsonâs building that BYU is planning to develop for another program.
3) Previously developed interagency and intra-agency partnerships have
been developed delineating the following needs for DNM and UFH collections.
Repository Needs for DNM as defined in 2001 agreements
â Paleontological collections area: 14,000 square feet â this includes DNM
and UFH collections (includes archaeological collections)
â Archaeological lab and storage space â 400 square feet
â Paleontology laboratory space â 2,500 square feet in common with UFH
â Offices â 4 â curatorial and educators â 690 square feet
â Research area â common area with UFH â 500 square feet
â Library â common area with UFH â 550 square feet
â Field equipment storage area â common area with UFH â 500 square feet
â Archival room â common area with UFH â 500 square feet
â Art storage room â common area with UFH â 500 square feet
â Maintenance room, boiler room, bathrooms, kitchen, lunchroom, copy room
common area with UFH â 500 square feet.
Utah Field House and Dinosaur National Monument have common curation needs
and the need for a paleontology lab, which were to be shared at one facility
(see Ditmanson, 2000). Part of the approach was also to share an educational
facility as well as common exhibits that would reduce the costs for each
entity. Uintah County and Vernal City purchased land that could be used for
facilities in Vernal. Transfer of part of that parcel was completed with
the construction of the new UFH museum. Congressional approval is necessary
for the National Park Service to accept the associated parcel for the new
repository. Considerable preliminary work has been done as well as local,
and federal funding spent planning for this new facility by the NPS, DNM, and
UFHâthe next step is blue-prints. That progress should not be lost or
Based upon these partnerships including the BLM, USFS, and USU-Uinta Basin
Branch (as addressed in a March 3, 2000 letter from then DNM superintendent
Dennis Ditmanson), the state of Utah proceeded to build a new museum for UFH
incorporating some of the above-mentioned common areas (in red). No storage
space or fossil preparation lab was included in the new facility, because of
this agreement. In addition, DNMâs plans for rehabilitation/replacement of
structure over the dinosaur fossil quarry and exhibit areas do not include
any plans for either a paleontology lab or collections/curation space at the
QVC. If a new facility is not constructed in Vernal adjacent to the UFH
museum as planned, both institutions will be left without the infrastructure
critical to continue their paleontology programs.
Significant amounts of money were raised in Utah (primarily Vernal) based on
the premise that there would be a joint UFH, repository, and preparation
laboratory. The repository space was to be built by the NPS as part of this
federal, state, and local partnershipâa win â win solution for everyone.
Additional shared space that was incorporated into the new UFH was intended to
also meet DNM needs including:
1) an audio-visual room that can present the story of vertebrate
paleontology in NE Utah and NW Colorado,
2) exhibit space that could easily display and protect specimens like the
Allosaurus jimmadseni, and
3) an easily remodeled, conjoined wall that will allow visitors to view
preparation work on vertebrate fossils from the area.
In conclusion, we would like to reiterate:
â Rebuilding Dinosaur National Monumentâs Quarry Visitor Center must be
given the highest priority in the National Park Service. It is crucial to
sustain tourism in northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado. The
gap cannot be filledâno other quarry is like this one.
â The DNM fossils would less likely to be damaged during transport, better
protected, as well as appreciated by the public if they are temporarily housed
locallyâas part of the Utah Field House exhibits and collections stored at
the old UFH museum building.
â There needs to be immediate congressional approval for the land exchange
and reallocation of funding appropriated for the Uinta Research and Curation
Center in Vernal (the federal repository).
Partnerships like these are vital to rural America. Tourism helps drive
stable development in these areas; Vernal is a definitive example. We strongly
urge Dinosaur National Monument personnel as well as the National Park Service
at the regional and national levels to pursue these partnerships with vigor.
Together we can accomplish anythingârebuild, renew, and reposit these
wonderful examples of a rich Jurassic Age. Vernal is Dinosaurlandâletâs
Dirk Kempthorne â Secretary of the Interior
Department of Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington DC 20240
Mary A. Bomar - Director
National Park Service
1849 C Street, NW
Washington DC 20240
National Park Service
12795 Alameda Parkway
Denver, CO 80225
Mary Risser, Superintendent
Dinosaur National Monument
4545 US Highway 40
Dinosaur, CO 81610
Your US Senator â addresses can be found at
Your US Representatives â addresses can be found at www.house.gov/writerep
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Any national and international friends of paleontology
MORE IS BETTER!!!!
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