PROTECTING AND PROMOTING FOSSIL COLLECTIONS FROM NATIONAL AND STATE PARK AREAS OF SOUTHERN CALIFONIA: OPPORTUNITIES FOR EDUCATION, OUTREACH, AND RESEARCH
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) is the largest such museum in Southern California, and has significant collections from each of the above protected areas, in addition to many others. Our primary roles include conserving and curating fossil specimens, and facilitating research. But these collections have even greater potential as tools in education and outreach. As an educational institute the NHM has a mutual interest to bring fossils related to state and federally protected areas out of the dark, and use them more proactively in education and outreach initiatives. A survey of park visitor and interpretive facilities revealed that many do not have local fossils on exhibit, or interpretative material that relates to local paleontological resources. An immediate step towards resolving these deficiencies requires cooperation with visitor center and park managers to identify exhibit-worthy specimens and develop interpretative materials. The implications of such collaborations might include increased accessibility to protected areas for research, improved opportunities for funding, and access to new audiences.