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The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) require that scientifically significant paleontological resources on public lands be considered prior to and during authorized land-disturbing activities.

Mitigation paleo.  Image of bulldozer in Duchesne County.

What are the requirements for paleontological survey and mitigation?

Who may conduct paleontological survey and mitigation?

Paleontological survey and mitigation must be done by a qualified paleontologist.  Paleontology is distinct from archeology, and should not be confused with that discipline.  Paleontolgical mitigation requires advanced knowledge in paleontology, sequence stratigraphy, and museum methods. 

Where can we find a consulting paleontologist?

Consultants are seperately in each state.  Contact individual BLM state paleontologists for a list of permitted consultants in their state.

What is a Paleontological locality and what should I report to the BLM?

A paleontological locality is a geographic point or area where a paleontological resource is found.  A paleontological resource should be reported wherever it is found regardless of its scientific significance.  Knowing where paleontological resources are found will allow the Bureau to preserve and protect paleontological resources.

Can I collect fossils outside of the right-of-way (ROW)?

Paleontological consulting and survey work may be conducted outside of the ROW when it is related to the project for which the consultant is hired.  However, check with the proponent or local authorized officer before collecting paleontological resources outside of the ROW to see if such activity is within the scope of the contract.

Who is authorized to work under a consulting permit?

BLM field agents may be assigned by consultants to direct field crews or to conduct work in the absence of the permittee.  The field agent must possess all of the field qualifications required to hold a BLM paleontological resource permit and have experience working with the type of fossils that will be encountered.  Field agents must be approved by the BLM, named on the permit (line 8), and be present during any work.

Do I need an excavation permit when collecting large fossils under a consulting permit?

Normally a consulting permit only authorizes the removal of small fossils resulting in less than one square meter of disturbance, similar to a survey permit.  However, in case-by-case circumstances larger fossils may be removed under a consulting permit when directed by the BLM authorized officer.  This is usually when the fossil is within an established right-of-way that has already undergone environmental review by the BLM for surface disturbance.

Who pays for paleontological survey and mitigation?

Surface disturbing activities may cause direct adverse impacts to paleontological resources through the damage or destruction of fossils and may result in the loss of valuable scientific information. Generally, the project proponent is responsible for the cost of implementing mitigation measures including the costs of investigation, salvage and curation of paleontological resources.

When do I submit a consulting report?

After each field survey, the consulting paleontologist must file a written report with the BLM.  This is normally the same report that is submitted to the project proponent.  However, the BLM should also receive an appendix (marked "confidential") that contains locality data.

What do I put into the annual report?

BLM paleontological resource use permittees must submit an annual report each year, even if field work was not done. 

Click here to apply for a permit