Summary of Hearings on Fossils on Public Lands (5-16-2007)
- April 17, 2007: House
Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests,
and Public Lands hearing on "H.R. 554, H.R. 986, H.R.
1100, and H.R. 1285"
Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and
Public Lands hearing on "H.R. 554, H.R. 986, H.R. 1100,
and H.R. 1285"
April 17, 2007
In a hearing held April 17, 2007, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee
on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held a hearing to consider
the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act and three other measures.
Introduced by Representative James McGovern (D-MA), the Paleontological
Resources Preservation Act (H.R. 554) provides for the protection
of paleontological resources on federal lands by providing stiff penalties
for crimes involving the theft and vandalism of Fossils of National
Significance (FONS). In his opening statement, Chairman Raúl
Grijalva (D-AZ) noted his concern about the "unintended consequences"
of H.R. 554. However, Congressman McGovern assured the committee that
the bill "does not place any new restrictions on amateur collectors"
and only pertains to public lands.
Recalling the "Last Chance" Dinosaur Quarry in Colorado,
discovered by a volunteer enthusiast in 2004 and regarded as one of
the most important dinosaur quarries in Colorado, the US Forest Service
embraced the bill, albeit with minor revisions. Commenting that fossils
provide "remarkable evidence of the Earth's history," Mr.
Norbury, Assistant Deputy Chief of the US Forest Service, noted that
"the establishment of a comprehensive legal framework that encourages
the integration of public and private resources, skills, and enthusiasm"
would play an enormous role in "the excavation and preservation
of these amazing remains."
Two other, non-governmental witnesses, Peter Larson and Ted Vlamis,
disagreed on the value of H.R. 554. Peter Larson, President of the
Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, describes himself as
a "degreed geologist, experienced vertebrate paleontologist and
current member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, the Paleontological
Society, and the Mid-American Paleontological Society." Larson
provided an explanation of why he opposes the bill in his written
testimony. Ted Vlamis, who described himself as an amateur paleontologist
and an active member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology provided
testimony right after Larson. Vlamis explained why he supported the
bill and also stated in his written testimony that "The PRPA
[H.R. 554] has been endorsed by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology,
an organization of more than 2000 professional and amateur paleontologists,
and by the American Association of Museums, which counts among its
membership 11,500 individual museum professionals and volunteers,
3100 institutions, and 1700 corporate members."
To see the full testimony, go to the House Natural Resources Committee
Sources: Hearing testimony.
Contributed by Erin Gleeson, 2007 AGI/AAPG Spring Intern and Paul
Schramm, 2007 AGI/AIPG Summer Intern
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Last updated on May 16, 2007.