2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 2:35 PM


GOBETZ, Katrina E., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Univ of Kansas, Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, 2345 Jayhawk Boulevard, Lawrence, KS 66045, CHESSER, Elizabeth J.S., Department of Geology, Beloit College, 700 College St, Beloit, WI 53511 and GORE, Larry D., Cuba Ranger District, Santa Fe National Forest, P. O. Box 130, Cuba, NM 87013, chessere@stu.beloit.edu

Paleontologists and collectors have removed fossils from classic deposits within the Santa Fe National Forest for over 100 years. Many of these fossils reside in the collections of well-known institutions, although the site’s land status was not always recorded. The Forest Service does not, however, have records of many of these specimens. For years, paleontology was not a management concern within National Forests, as on other public lands, and there was therefore no impetus to develop management protocols for these resources. The Santa Fe National Forest is one of the first forests to a conduct a systematic inventory of vertebrate fossils. In Summer 2004, two paleontologists were hired in cooperation with GeoCorps America to compile information on fossils found in and around the Santa Fe National Forest. In the late 1990s, Federal land management agencies realized that paleontology was a neglected resource. The agencies compiled a report, setting forth seven principles of paleontology resource management. This project will implement these principles.

The project follows a multi-phase approach, beginning with research to create a database of fossils collected on forest land. This database includes detailed specimen and locality information, and has been compiled from museum records, publications, and related resources. The database has also been updated to ensure accuracy of information, and to add information from phase two. Localities have also been plotted in ArcGIS to aid their location and future management. The database and ArcGIS layer will be accessible to forest staff, researchers, and, to some extent, the public. The second phase involves revisiting and, if necessary, relocating sites to determine their current condition. Assessments will be made as to whether or not the site could yield fossils, whether or not poaching has occurred, and what management steps need to be taken to ensure that the site remains intact and fossil resources are used for scientific study. This work will lead to recommendations for management of fossils within the Santa Fe National Forest, including a streamlined process for permits for scientific study by researchers and recognition of paleontology as an important resource in all management documents.