By James I. Kirkland, Ph. D.
The National Park Service is requesting comments on the development of a regional paleontological repository facility in Vernal, Utah in a partnership with the Vernal Field House of Natural History (Utah State Parks). The facilty is to be constructed adjoining the newly opened Vernal Field House of Natural History in Vernal and jointly managed.
The plan can be accessed here.
We need to strongly support the development of the Uintah Research and Curatorial Center in Vernal, Utah versus the alternative of No Action!
The collection facility at Dinosaur National Monument is falling apart because of substrate instability.
The Vernal Field House of Natural History does not have a collections facility in their new Museum and has basically given up their status as a federal repository until such a facilty can be constructed.
If the proposed facility is not constructed, Utah will not have a federal paleontological repository in the Uinta Basin.
Thus, many more future fossil collections from this region will leave the state, particularly those made through the mitigation of paleontological resources due to energy development.
Also the absence of a paleontological repository in the region could hinder the development of energy resources in the Uinta Basin through the slowing down the ability of local paleontological mitigation groups to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Jim Kirkland is a State Paleontologist with the Utah Geological Survey.