Agencies help fossil collectors

  Dear HCN,


We appreciate the attention that High Country News recently gave to fossil ownership, but first, we need to point out that part of the nation's fossil legacy also occurs on land administered by the Forest Service. The Forest Service has been managing fossil localities for years on a case-by-case basis, and began developing a national management strategy last year. The Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service are working together closely to ensure that national opportunities and regulations are coordinated across jurisdictional boundaries.


Second, it's just not true that "only college-educated paleontologists can collect fossils on BLM land." BLM regulations allow the public to collect many kinds of fossils for their personal collections, and no permit is required. Permits, issued to people who are trained and educated in collecting fossils and scientific data, are required for scientifically significant specimens such as dinosaurs because of long-standing Department of the Interior policy to hold these specimens in the public trust as part of the nation's natural heritage. Forest Service regulations mirror those of the BLM.


Opinions differ widely on whether, as you report, "current regulations are a mess." Applicants for BLM collecting permits need fill out only a one-page form and supply a summary of their qualifications. Somehow, 37 professional paleontologists managed to do this last year for BLM lands just in Wyoming, and over 200 students, amateurs, children and local visitors worked with them to learn about the history of life on Earth. The Forest Service currently has working arrangements with paleontologists at 13 institutions in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming, plus dozens of others in other states.


Although the article by Heather Abel suggests that the BLM acts primarily to restrict fossil collecting, it is our mission to facilitate field studies in paleontology and foster appreciation of fossils in education and recreation. Under the requirements of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, many fossils are available to all with few restrictions, and the orderly collection of significant specimens and data is enforced to prevent their loss to the scientific community and the American people. The Forest Service acts under similar mandates of the National Forest Management Act. Their intention to conserve the value of the fossil record for the current and future benefit of the American people echoes the mission of the BLM toward fossil resources.


Laurie J. Bryant


and Cathleen L. May





Laurie Bryant is a paleontologist for the BLM in Casper, Wyo., and Cathleen May is program leader of the National Paleontology Center of Excellence for the Forest Service.


High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action is seeking two full time community organizers to join our team. Positions can be based in Garfield County, Montrose...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Join our team as the Association's Executive Director. Working closely with the Board of Directors, take ANWS to the next level of professionalism by managing...
  • FRIENDS OF CEDAR MESA DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Friends of Cedar Mesa is hiring a Development Director who will have the overall responsibilities of leading our fundraising programs and reports directly to our...
  • WATER RIGHTS/ADJUDICATION BUREAU CHIEF
    Job Overview: Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that Montana's land and water resources provide benefits for present and future...
  • CLIMATE CHANGE COORDINATOR
    The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is seeking a Climate Change Coordinator to play a lead role in shaping our programs to make the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Executive Director Position Announcement POSITION TITLE: Executive Director ORGANIZATION: Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument REPORTING TO: Board of Directors EMPLOYMENT TYPE: Part-time - Full-time, based...
  • HEALTHY CITIES PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Healthy Cities Program Director leads and manages the Healthy Cities Program for the Arizona Chapter and is responsible for developing and implementing innovative, high...
  • CONSERVATION PROGRAM MANAGER
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) Conservation Programs Manager Job Opening Our Mission: Honoring the past and safeguarding the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) Associate Director Job Posting Our Mission: Honoring the past and safeguarding the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through science,...
  • UNIQUE, ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOME ON ACREAGE NEAR MOSCOW, IDAHO
    Custom-built energy-efficient 3000 sqft two-story 3BR home, 900 sqft 1 BR accessory cottage above 2-car garage and large shop. Large horse barn. $1,200,000. See online...
  • OUTDOOR ADVENTURE BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Missoula Outdoor Learning Adventures (MOLA) - established and profitable outdoor adventure & education business in Missoula, Montana. Summer camp, raft & climb guide, teen travel,...
  • OJO SARCO FARM/HOME
    A wonderful country setting for a farm/work 1350s.f. frame home plus 1000 studio/workshop. 5 acres w fruit trees, an irrigation well, pasture and a small...
  • STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
    Join Skagit Land Trust (the Trust), a not-for-profit conservation organization based in Mount Vernon, Washington, and help protect land for people and wildlife. Skagit Land...
  • 2022 SEASONAL SCIENCE EDUCATOR
    The Mount St. Helens Institute Science Educator supports our science education and rental programs including day and overnight programs for youth ages 6-18, their families...
  • POLICY DIRECTOR
    Heart of the Rockies Initiative is seeking a Policy Director to lead and define policy efforts to advance our mission to keep working lands and...
  • CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
    Self-Help Enterprises seeks an experienced and strategic CFO
  • CONSERVATION SPECIALIST - LAND PROTECTION FOCUS
    View full job description and how to apply at
  • RIVER EDUCATOR & GUIDE
    River Educator & Guide River Educator & Guide (Trip Leader) Non-exempt, Seasonal Position: Full-time OR part-time (early April through October; may be flexible with start/end...
  • LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    The Land and Water Conservation Director is a full-time salaried position with the Mountain Area Land Trust in Evergreen, CO. The successful candidate will have...
  • FOOD SYSTEMS ENVIRONMENTAL FELLOWSHIP
    If you were to design a sustainable society from the ground up, it would look nothing like the contemporary United States. But what would it...