Paper No. 188-11
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM
BONES, SHELLS, LEAVES, AND TRACKS: FACILITATING PARTNERSHIPS FOR HOLISTIC PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT, PRESERVATION, AND INTERPRETATION OF FOSSILS ON BLM’S PUBLIC LAND
Some of the most valuable clues to Earth’s history may be found on public lands entrusted to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These 245 million acres are managed to safeguard priceless resources spanning billions of years and are among the world’s best outdoor laboratories for the study of paleontology. In 2009, Congress passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act that includes the Paleontological Resources Preservation subtitle (PRPA), which provides land managing agencies the clear authority to manage paleontological resources on public lands as natural and irreplaceable parts of America's heritage. This is accomplished by proper documentation, collection, preparation, and curation of paleontological resources. PRPA defines paleontological resources as any fossilized remains, traces, or imprints of organisms, preserved in or on the earth’s crust, that are of paleontological interest and that provide information about the history of life on earth. PRPA allows the public to hobby collect common invertebrate and plant fossils without a permit. However, scientific documentation and/or collection of any fossil (i.e., vertebrate, invertebrate, plant, or trace) from BLM-administered land require a Paleontological Resources Use Permit. These resources and the associated information remain the property of the United States and are preserved for the public in approved repositories, where they are available for scientific research and public education.
Permits are required so that BLM can document, monitor, and manage paleontological resources using scientific principles and expertise. Individuals conducting research or educational studies on BLM paleontological resources should contact the BLM prior to undertaking these activities. Likewise, any consumptive analyses (e.g., coring, thin sectioning) or duplication (molding and casting) of public paleontological resources (whether done in the field or lab) often requires BLM authorization. In partnership with BLM permittees, programs are being developed to increase public awareness about the significance of paleontological resources, and to highlight the world-class fossils from public lands that are pivotal to our understanding of life on our planet and upon which many concepts related to evolution and environmental change are based.