Friday, February 22, 2008

Geotimes: Paleontology in the parks

Take a look at this Geotimes article I found today (excerpts below):

".....park administrators announced that they would be cutting one preparator position, now held by paleontologist Scott Madsen, over the next year. Additionally, they changed the role of the chief paleontology position, now held by Dan Chure, from a research-oriented position to more of a management position. At such time as Chure decides to leave, his position will become a “physical resources program specialist” — a broader position Dinosaur will fill with a vertebrate paleontologist. About a year before, another paleontological preparator, Ann Elder, became a curator for all collections at Dinosaur. Bottom line: where there once were three paleontology positions, there soon will be only one."

“In the end, there won’t be anyone who is focusing on the main resource for which the park was established,” Chure says. When... announced the new management plan to the park’s staff, Chure recalls, someone asked him directly whether these changes meant there would no longer be a paleontological program at the park. “And his direct answer was, ‘That’s right. There won’t be.’”......

"David Shaver, chief of the Geologic Resources Division for the National Park Service, says that since 1996, when his division was created, the Service has been pushing to bring more science into decision making. The news coming out of Dinosaur is troubling, he says. “We ought to be moving toward more emphasis on science in resource management and not less. If we have to cut, we shouldn’t cut from science.”

But, Shaver says, finding adequate financial resources is a serious challenge. All involved agree on the multi-faceted role paleontologists ought to play in the Park Service in facilitating scientific research, but opinions differ on how best to accomplish that goal on a limited budget. If nothing else, he says, the situation at Dinosaur “has raised the issue with upper management of the Park Service’s role related to research.” Shaver is hopeful that discussions currently underway will effect positive change."..........

Oddly enough this article was written in 2003! From the wording you would think it could have been written this week! However, this article was written in response to the last time park management tried to do away with the paleontology positions. All of it other than the bolded comment from Dan Chure (see above), who currently supports the changes. It is not his job on the line either.

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