FEB 25 1994
Page 4. CHADRON RECORD. Friday, February 25, 1993
Decision on mammoths and mural set for center
By ANDREA WOLFE
Plans have been made to construct the Prehistoric Prairies Discovery Center on federally leased acres within Fort Robinson State Park. The center will display two mammoth skeletons found in 1962 on the Moody Ranch near Crawford.
After much public interest and input, it was decided to display the original mammoth bones lying down in a prone position, and have a lifesize mural as part or the exhibit.
Conceptual drawings of the center have been done by an interpretive planner have been completed of the center, which will cost approximately $6 million and may open by Memorial Day, 1999. The drawing is only a preliminary idea of one possible layout of the building and exhibits. Suggestions for changing the floor plan are being readily accepted from anyone interested.
THE FINAL design work for the building itself wilt be completed in 1996 or 1997. when the funding is available.
The Forest Service will be contributing $3 million and partners of the project have committed to raise the remaining.
"The Friends of the Prehistoric Prairies Discovery Center will he a major player in the fund-raising," according to Liz Ohlrogge, recreation, lands and minerals staff officer and program manager for the Mammoth Discover Center project. She said the City of Crawford will be donating the water and sewer lines and the water needed in the facility.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, City of Crawford, Crawford Area Chamber of Commerce, Job Corps and the Nebraska State Museum will contribute to operations, maintenance and stuffing of the center. Many organizations such as senior citizen and youth groups and Chambers of Commerce have stated they will volunteer to help staff the center.
UNIVERSITIES AND colleges associated with this project will assist in staffing and programs through internships, cooperative agreements, research grants and challenge cost share agreements.
The total cost includes funds for the bonebed enclosure at the Hudson-Ming Bison Kill Site on the Oglala National Grassland north of Crawford, the largest 10.000-year-old bunched in the western hemisphere.
The center will offer an opportunity to interpret Nebraska's unique natural and cultural history, and is an important opportunity for the USDA Forest Service to be involved in a project that hits on many important themes of the new administration.
THIS PROJECT provides for rural economic development opportunities, environmental and cultural education programs, federal, stale, county, city and private partnerships, job training for youth enrolled in the Job Corps program and future job expansion as other opportunities related to tourism are expanded with these facilities.
The economic impact to the City of Crawford is projected at $1.4 million per year, while the economic impact to Dawes County is projected at $1.65 million per year according to the Nebraska Department of Economic development, Research Division.
The center will highlight archeologic and paleontologic resources, significant sites and active research being conducted within the region and the state. Educational programs to achieve public understanding of the educational and scientific importance of these resources and regulations and policies for their management and protection will also be conducted.
In an inventory of fossil-bearing formations on the Oglala and Buffalo Gap National Grasslands in Region two, it was found that 25 to 30 percent of the fossil-bearing sites are being vandalized or poached.
LAND EXCHANGES are proceeding throughout the system without knowledge of the value of the fossils on the property and requests for special use permits are increasing rapidly.
In an effort to combat these problems, the only paleontologist hired in the Forest Service nationwide is located in Chadron.
Barb Beasley has been here two years. She was a student-coop for the first year. She received her undergraduate degree in geosciences from the University of Tennessee and her masters degree in earth sciences with a concentration in paleontology from Fort Hays State at Fort Hays, Kan.
Bcasley spent 1 � years working towards a doctorate in paleontology at the South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City before hiring on with the Forest Service.
"It was an excellent opportunity to do something
besides research." she stated. Beasley has been busy teaching short courses on a paleoliteracy program to help land managers become familiar with fossils and understand their importance.
SHE WORKS IN the field to assist with permits for fossil collection and has traveled to Washington, D.C. to help with the verbiage and definitions included in government policies.
Beasley also works to increase communication between land owners and government agencies and works with law enforcement officers to fight vandalism on the sites.
"We've had quite a few unexplained holes from which we know fossils were taken in this area within the last year," she stated. "We do have uniformed and non-uniformed personnel out in these areas at all times once the summer hits."
Two inventory projects have been started by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the South Dakota School of Mines. UNL is in charge of the inventory on the Oglala National Grasslands, where most of the vandalism is still taking place. The School of Mines is working at Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, but has not seen much evidence of vandalism this last year.
Beasley commented, "Fossils are important not only for their commercial value of anywhere from $20,000 up to six figures, but for their natural resource value. They provide a record of what the system was like without humans."
MARY PETERSON, forest supervisor of the Nebraska National Forest, stated, "This is really breaking new ground. We plan to hire another paleontologist soon. We've become a regional center of excellence for paleontology."
"The major goal for the Forest Service to understand," explained Beasley, "is that there is a natural non-renewable resource that hasn't been considered during any administration or management of resources in the past."
With excellent personnel and immense public interest in preserving paleontological and archeological resources, the Forest Service and its supporters should be able to save "the most extensive fossil beds on national forest system land," according to Peterson.
Barb Beasley the only paleontologist hired by the USDA Forest Service nationwide at this time. She has been working out of the Chadron office for
the last two years. The Forest Service Is planning to hire another paleontologist for the Chadron area in the future.
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