Paleontologists, locals upset over damaged dinosaur tracksite by Utah Bureau of Land Management
MOAB, Utah — Groups of paleontologists and local residents are sharing their outrage on social media over the construction to replace a boardwalk damaging a famous “Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite ” just outside of Moab.
Mill Canyon contains more than 200 dinosaur tracks preserved in sedimentary rock, representing 10 distinct species of dinosaur. It is ranked No. 7 out of 12 in dinosaur track sites in the United States according to researchers at the University of Colorado.
According to the Deseret News, BLM approved a project to replace an existing boardwalk at the site last year. However, the approval required flagging sensitive areas and providing “onsite inspections during construction,” for the safety and preservation of the dinosaur tracks.
Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Pictures have circulated on social media of a backhoe in the area and a torn up boardwalk and The Center for Biological Diversity issued a cease-and-desist letter to the Utah Bureau of Land Management in response.
Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the center, said to the Deseret News that he was outraged by the destruction at the site, adding it calls into question the ability of the federal agency to manage lands.
Donnelly called Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite “one of the most significant early Cretaceous (dinosaur) tracksites in the world.”
I’m just curious why @BLMUtah would park a bulldozer on one of North America’s top dinosaur track sites? Why would they rip out a board walk and attempt to replace it with something much heavier and without a paleontologist to supervise? @T_rexellence, would you have any idea?
— Jeremy Roberts (@JeremyBRoberts) January 28, 2022
Around 6:40 p.m., BLM officials released a statement about the incident.
“The Bureau of Land Management is committed to balancing resource protection and public access to the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite, and other public lands managed by the Moab Field Office, which continue to receive high visitation. The Moab Field Office is working to improve safe public access with an updated boardwalk that is designed to protect the natural resources of this site. During that effort, heavy equipment is on location, but it is absolutely not used in the protected area. The Moab Field Office has completed a National Environmental Policy Act analysis for this project and work is being conducted in accordance with that decision. When work resumes, it will continue to protect the natural resources.”
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