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BLM acknowledges crews damaged Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite

Apr 3, 2022, 9:38 AM

mill canyon dinosaur tracksite damage...

A paleontologist from the Bureau of Land Management examines damage to the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite in February 2022. Photo: Bureau of Land Management.

MOAB, Utah — Six weeks after saying it could find no evidence its crews damaged an important dinosaur tracksite outside of Moab, the Bureau of Land Management released a report acknowledging construction crews did in fact damage the site at Mill Canyon. 

BLM: Minor damage at Mill Canyon

Some dinosaur footprints at Mill Canyon suffered what BLM officials describe as minor damage. It happened when construction crews worked to replace a boardwalk for visitors. 

In February, BLM officials issued a statement that claimed to find no evidence of damage. 

At this time, we have no evidence of any damage in the interpreted area, but out of an abundance of caution, a team will be dispatched to assess,” the statement read.

But in April, the Mill Canyon website includes the following update: 

BLM is committed to protecting plant and animal fossils on our public lands. We have carefully reviewed the findings and recommendations in the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite Paleontological Assessment, which confirmed there was minor damage to some dinosaur footprints, primarily north of the main interpretive site. To ensure this does not happen again, we will follow the recommendations in the assessment, seek public input, and work with the paleontology community as we collectively move forward on constructing boardwalks at the interpretive site. The maintenance and restoration of these interpretive walkways are necessary to properly protect and manage the paleontological resources at this important site.

Before BLM resumes construction, we will draft a supplemental environmental assessment that will include review from a paleontologist and analyze alternative access routes and building materials. We will seek public comment for 30 days on the draft and anticipate a decision in summer 2022.

Why Mill Canyon matters

The dinosaur tracksite at Mill Canyon dates to the Early Cretaceous period, the final period of the Mesozoic Era. That makes it roughly 112 million years old.

According to the Bureau of Land Management, the site features more than 200 tracks and traces of at least ten different types of Mesozoic animals. As such, it provides important details about how those animals, including birds, crocodiles and dinosaurs, lived and moved. 

You can read the paleontologist’s full report about the site and the damage here

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BLM acknowledges crews damaged Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite