Petrified Forest N.P. adds fossil-rich acres

Petrified Forest N.P. adds fossil-rich acres

HOLBROOK, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The National Park Service, the Conservation Fund and the National Parks Conservation Association announced the addition of more than 4,200 acres to the Petrified Forest National Park just outside Holbrook.

According to a recent NPS news release the land was purchased by the Conservation Fund in January 2013; with added assistance from the National Parks Conservation Association.  The NPS has stated the new land is filled with late Triassic resources, including rare dinosaur fossils; using the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) a premier conservation program to acquire the new acreage.

The new land connects to already existing park acres; formerly known as the McCauley Ranch the new acres lie east of the historic remains of Puerco Pueblo.  According to NPS this new land preserves not only the view-shed from the main road, but several fossil producing sites for new paleontological discoveries.

"This is an important milestone in the National Park Service's joint effort with our partners to protect the rich natural and cultural landscape in and around Petrified Forest National Park," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, in the recent news release. "By helping us acquire the McCauley Ranch, our partners at The Conservation Fund and the National Parks Conservation Association have taken another important step toward fulfilling the vision Congress outlined in the Petrified Forest Expansion Act of 2004. On behalf of the American people, we thank The Conservation Fund and NPCA. This extension of Petrified Forest's boundaries will allow us to increase our knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Arizona's Painted Desert environment and its archeological and fossil wonders."

Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is provided annually by Congress, via a bipartisan program that uses a percentage of proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties – not taxpayer dollars. LWCF funding for the protection of irreplaceable lands, like the patchwork of publicly- and privately-owned properties that make up Petrified Forest National Park, would not be possible without support from the Arizona Congressional members.

"This effort is a win-win for Northern Arizona, because when we protect our historic treasures and natural wonders, we also improve the visitor experience and boost our local economies," said U.S. Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, in the news release.  "Arizona has many opportunities for efforts like this, and I will do all I can to support them."

This transaction marks a decade long partnership between the National Park Service, The Conservation Fund and NPCA.  It is through this partnership that the National Park Service has added more than 30,000 acres of historically-important lands to the park, increasing the overall acreage by 30 percent. The Conservation Fund will continue to work with the National Park Service to identify willing sellers of priority lands within the park boundary.

"Petrified Forest National Park is an incomparable place that should be on every American's bucket list because it provides a unique glimpse into our nation's vibrant prehistoric landscapes and cultures," said Mike Ford, Southwest Director for The Conservation Fund. "Even though we've made tremendous strides thanks to support from NPCA and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, there is still more work to be done at Petrified Forest National Park to preserve some of the world's greatest fossil and archeological treasures. We will continue to assist the National Park Service in the conservation of critical lands and resources in the coming years."

"Congratulations to both Petrified Forest National Park and the people who cherish it," said Kevin Dahl, Arizona senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. "By working together, and with special thanks to a generous anonymous donor, this land becomes part of the park and will be permanently protected for all to enjoy forever. This project is just one step along the way, as other sensitive parcels at Petrified and at other national parks across the nation are in risk and need to be preserved. We call on Congress to support full LWCF funding to make sure our national parks remain just as special for future generations."

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