Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 12:00 PM
AN INVENTORY OF PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES FROM NATIONAL PARK SERVICE AREAS IN THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS NETWORK
At least 231 National Park Service (NPS) areas preserve paleontological resources, ranging from in-situ body or trace fossils, to museum collections, to artifacts made from fossils, to fossils incorporated into building material. To provide better baseline data regarding these fossils, paleontological data-mining efforts have been initiated in NPS units Servicewide in conjunction with the 32 NPS Inventory and Monitoring Networks. Paleontological resource inventories have now been completed for all of these networks. Such an inventory was recently undertaken for NPS areas in the Northern Great Plains Network (NGPN). The NGPN includes thirteen park areas in Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. This inventory was the first comprehensive literature search and summary of recent and historical paleontological research for the parks of the network. Eleven of the network’s NPS units preserve fossil resources. Among them are Agate Fossil Beds NM and Badlands NP, created in recognition of their important fossil occurrences, and other extensively fossiliferous NPS units, such as Missouri National Recreational River, Niobrara National Scenic River, Scotts Bluff NM, Theodore Roosevelt NP, and Wind Cave NP. Collectively, the NGPN parks provide an outstanding record of vertebrate fossils from the Upper Cretaceous to the Miocene. They also include significant records of invertebrates. Culturally, they include well-studied fossil-cultural associations from American Indian and frontier history. NGPN parks are also historically significant areas for the science of paleontology, particularly Badlands NP and the Missouri and Niobrara river areas, and many of the great paleontology collections in United States museums include significant collections from NGPN parks and their surroundings. Because of their fossil richness, NGPN areas are both excellent settings for education and interpretative efforts, and host to resource management challenges, particularly fossil theft and natural destruction. The deauthorization of Fossil Cycad NM in 1957, within what is now the NGPN, is a graphic example of the risks of improper management. The NGPN fossil resources inventory aims to stimulate future research, education, interpretation, and proper resource management of these paleontological resources.