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Release Date: 04/26/13
Contacts: Denise Adamic, BLM (719) 269-8553    

Garden Park Fossil Area earns national recognition (04-26-13)

CAÑON CITY, Colo. – The Bureau of Land Management’s Garden Park Fossil Area has received an expansion to its National Natural Landmark boundary. The area, 10 miles north of Cañon City, is internationally renowned for its late Jurassic-period fossils.

“A great deal of what we know about modern paleontology came from discoveries made in Garden Park, but just outside of the former NNL boundary,” said BLM geologist, Melissa Smeins. “In the 1880s,  15 dinosaur species, nine of which were new to the field of paleontology, were recovered here, making it one of the oldest and richest fossil sites in the country.”

The NNL program is administered by the National Park Service and preserves sites that illustrate the geological and ecological history of the United States. The designation does not change the ownership of the area or dictate activity. It is a voluntary program that assists land managers protecting natural heritage resources, such as those found in Garden Park.

The GPFA was originally designated by the Secretary of the Interior in 1973, as part of a greater national subset of Mesozoic Vertebrate Paleontological sites, meaning that fish, crocodile, turtle, and mammal fossils dating back 252 to 66 million years ago were unearthed here. However, only 40 acres of the GPFA were included in the original NNL designation, and none of the paleontologically significant areas.

In 2012, the BLM set out to expand the NNL boundary, completing an environmental assessment of the proposed expansion, and then forwarding its recommendation to the NPS who, in turn, did their own investigation.

On April 2, after more than a year of analysis and public input, then Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved the BLM and NPS proposals, thus expanding the NNL designation by 80 times its original size.

“We were eager for the Secretary to approve adding any acreage to the original NNL designation,” said Smeins. “We dreamed big though – proposing 3,170 more acres – and when the Secretary and the public agreed with the entirety of our proposal, we were ecstatic.”

With the Secretary’s approval, the NNL boundary now includes more than 3,200 acres of public lands. The expanded designation includes five significant quarries highlighting discoveries that include the three most complete Stegosaurus skeletons ever found.

For more information about the BLM’s Garden Park Fossil Area, check out our or visit the Royal Gorge Field Office at 3028 East Main Street, Cañon City, Colorado 81212.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

  3028 E Main Street      Canon City, CO 81212  

Last updated: 04-26-2013