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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 

Jim Kirkland

James I. Kirkland Ph. D.
State  Paleontologist 
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




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 
northwestern Colorado.

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 
was done 
in order to build a new repository meeting federal  museum collection 
standards in Vernal, UT for fossil resources from the National  Park Service 
(NPS) as 
well as other federal and state lands (Uinta Research and  Curation Center).

NPS Management Policies (2001);  Section  specifically address 
paleontological resources:
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  
down again?
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 
type specimen).
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 
suppression  needs.
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 
keep it 
that way!!


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

Mike Snyder
Regional Director
National  Park Service
Intermountain Region
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


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