PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: THE ONGOING STRUGGLE TO PROTECT VERTEBRATE FOSSILS IN DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
In an attempt to mitigate future exploitation along the Morrison spur of the trail, a comprehensive map, and extensive photo documentation project occurred during the summer of 2015. The map established a grid system for the 200 ft Morrison spur and assigned reference numbers linking the map to high-quality photos of the bones. The map and photos will aid interpretive and paleontology staff in monitoring the condition and position of fossils, as well as educating visitors about the tragedy of vandalism.
Neilson Gulch was protected by the establishment of the original 80 acre monument in 1915, and the Fossil Discovery Trail was established in the gulch as an interactive trail from Quarry Exhibit Hall to the DINO Visitor Center in 2006. The trail offers visitors a unique opportunity to observe the naturally exposed fossils of the Stump, Morrison, and Mowry Formation. Trails that lead visitors directly to exposed fossil vertebrates are rare due to fear of exploitation of fossils; however, with proper documentation of resources and informed visitors, the risk of exploitation can be diminished.