Paper No. 188-2
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM
THE CROOKED RIVER PROJECT: FEDERAL-UNIVERSITY COLLABORATION IN PURSUIT OF AN INTEGRATED UNDERSTANDING OF PALEOECOLOGY, TECTONIC HISTORY, AND CRITICAL PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES
Federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and the National Park Service protects many important paleontological resources. However, the majority of the researchers with the expertise to collect, study, and curate those fossils work for universities and academic museums. Hence, collaborations among land managers, researchers, and museums are essential to protecting fossil resources. Such a collaboration has been particularly effective in Oregon, where the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, private landowners and the University of Oregon have come together to pursue the study of the abundant terrestrial vertebrate record of Central Oregon. In recent years, many of our collecting efforts have focused in the Crooked River Basin, in an area of abundant fossils but with limited collecting history. The South Fork of the Crooked River exposes terrestrial sediments from Eocene to late Miocene age, similar to those that occur in the John Day Basin to the north. While the collecting history in the Crooked River Basin extends back more than 100 years, the fossils in this region remain understudied, and recent efforts by BLM and University of Oregon crews have uncovered a number of new sites that are changing our understanding of the area’s environmental history. By involving geology field camp students in the research, the University of Oregon has provided the manpower to effectively survey and collect fossils over a wide area, as well as the expertise to describe and characterize both the fossils and the complex geology in which they occur. Several enthusiastic landowners have provided logistical support and access to deposits where the outcrop on private land. Our work over the last 5 years has shown the area to be a heterogeneous environment, producing a diverse fossil record that adds substantially to our knowledge of the Oregon Oligo-Miocene. In support of this project, the BLM has provided permits, data, and funding for dating and for curation. The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument has also proved an important collaborator, given their work in correlative sediments. The integration of the Crooked River section into our understanding of Oregon’s geologic history is a great example of effective collaboration among federal land managers, researchers, and public museums.