Rocky Mountain Section - 72nd Annual Meeting - 2020

Paper No. 1-6
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


BREITHAUPT, Brent, Bureau of Land Managment, Wyoming State Office, 5353 Yellowstone Road, Cheyenne, WY 82009, MATTHEWS, Neffra A., Bureau of Land Management, National Operations Center, Denver, CO 80225, HUNT-FOSTER, ReBecca, National Park Service, Dinosaur National Monument, 11625 East 1500 South, PO Box 128, Jensen, UT 84035, MCDONALD, H. Gregory, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado State Office, Lakewood, CO 80215 and LOCKLEY, Martin, Dinosaur Trackers Group, University of Colorado-Denver, Campus Box 172, Denver, CO 80217

The spectacular geology of southeastern Utah attracts visitors from around the world. However, many people are unaware of the unique paleontological resources preserved in these rocks. Newly discovered dinosaur footprints add to an already impressive array of ichnological resources and interpreted sites known from the area. Discovered in 2015, the Mail Station Dinosaur Tracksite (MSDT) has been managed primarily for educational and research purposes by the Bureau of Land Management. Numerous tracks and trackways of large theropods (Eubrontes) present at this Lower Jurassic Navajo Sandstone tracksite provide an excellent outdoor classroom for teaching scientific methods and resource management. For the past three years, middle-school students have been involved in “Paleocamps” which allowed them to become active researchers at the site. These citizen scientists are provided instruction and tracking kits, so that they can engage in actual dinosaur footprint discovery and documentation. Students learn traditional ichnological measuring and mapping techniques, as well as state-of-the-art photogrammetric documentation.

Because the MSDT occurs in an active arroyo, the tracks are seasonally buried by sediments; creating a different experience each year for students doing paleoichnological and neoichnological studies. By uncovering new tracks, students provide additional pieces to the paleontological puzzle of the MSDT. Students use their observational skills and collect data to make interpretations about the dinosaurs, as well as provide suggestions on the future management of the site. This information is being incorporated with other scientific data to help understand the significance of this tracksite. Unique opportunities, such as these "Paleocamps," allow for a better understanding of the importance of paleontological resources and the value of these parts of America's Natural Heritage. This project improves scientific literacy and results in more stewards of paleontological resources on America’s public lands. Programs such as this follow federal mandates to increase public awareness of the significance of paleontological resources, and provide opportunities for the public to learn about and become more involved with their public lands.