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Miles City Field Office
Release Date: 09/14/11
Contacts: Mark Jacobsen 406-233-2831    

2011 Paleo Season Productive on BLM Lands

The 2011 summer paleontological season was a busy time for seven institutions excavating fossilized flora and fauna on BLM-administered lands in eastern Montana.

Click here to see photos from the digs.

More kinds of fossils can be found on BLM-managed lands than anywhere else in the U.S. That includes those lands administered by any other federal or state agency. Eastern Montana continues to maintain its world-famous standing for the fossil legacy it produces for the greater scientific record.

This year in Garfield County, in addition to scouring various micro-vertebrate fossil sites, staff from the University of Washington out of Seattle, Wash. conducted a field seminar for public school teachers called “Discoveries in Geo Sciences”. The program is intended to help local teachers effectively incorporate paleontology and geology topics into their curriculums.

Also plying the badlands: the St. Louis Community College-Meramec from Missouri worked a triceratops excavation and gathered information for a stratigraphy study in July, photographing Garfield County’s Hell Creek formation with a specialized digital “GigaPan” panoramic camera apparatus. The image data has been taken back to the college to be reassembled with specialized software to gain a better understanding of the “what and how” of the region’s geological history.

Personnel from the Museum of the Rockies of Bozeman were working on another triceratops site and the Concordia College from Moorehead, Minn. was fossil-prospecting in Garfield County as well this summer.

Carter County played host to the crew from Carthage College from Kenosha, Wis., who spent most of their time looking for promising spots for future excavation. The Burpee Museum from Rockford, Ill. was quite busy this year working a triceratops, a hadrosaur and a micro-fossil site; and extended their field season by a few days over last year.

Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History from New Haven, Conn. was back in Fallon County this summer working an early mammal fossil site east of Baker.

BLM-permitted excavation teams working public lands must be federally-recognized repositories for paleontological specimens before they can be considered qualified to excavate on federal lands.

The BLM issues permits primarily for vertebrate fossil specimens and scientifically significant invertebrates and plant fossils. The permits are generally issued only to professional paleontologists who must agree to preserve their finds in a public museum, a college, or a university because of their relative rarity and scientific importance.

Visitors to public lands are welcome to collect reasonable amounts of common invertebrate and plant fossils without a BLM permit. No permit is needed for plant fossils, such as leaves, stems, and cones, or common invertebrate fossils, such as ammonites and trilobites. Petrified wood can be collected for personal use; up to 25 pounds each day plus one piece, but no more than 250 pounds in any calendar year. These materials must be for the finder’s personal collection and cannot be sold or traded.

For more paleontology and fossil collecting information call the BLM Miles City Field Office at (406)233-2800 or visit the BLM’s Heritage Resources page at:

For additional details regarding Montana’s dinosaurs take a peek at the official Montana travel site at:

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.

Miles City Field Office   111 Garryowen Road      Miles City, MT 59301  

Last updated: 06-28-2012