Dinosaur fossil exhibit proposed for Big Bend

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Associated Press

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 1:03 AM

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — The National Park Service is planning a new dinosaur fossil exhibit for Big Bend National Park in West Texas.

The exhibit built inside the park would house fossil replicas from dinosaurs that existed in the area more than 90 million years ago.

Park geologist Don Corrick told the El Paso Times (http://bit.ly/1fyr3Jo ) the exhibit would be built in an already developed area of the park. The fossils will tell the evolution of Big Bend from the time it was covered by ocean to eventual extinction.

"(The new exhibit) would be one of the most important interpretive additions in the park's history. What we have now is a little 10 by 10 room with some little fossils on the floor. (The new exhibit) will tell the story of the changing landscape and changing wildlife over a deep geological time dating back to when the ancient ocean covered the Big Bend," Corrick said.

The proposed exhibit is going through the environmental assessment process and the public comment period runs through Monday. Some have objected to its location in the park.

Rick Lobello, an El Paso environmentalist and former Big bend park ranger, says the exhibit would be better located at one of the more intensely developed parts of the park.

"Big Bend should be preserved and protected as the best example of the Chihuahuan desert wildlife in northern America," Lobello said. "To help protect that wilderness aspect, it's best not to have too many buildings in the park that already has developed areas."

But Corrick said the proposed location already has a parking lot, paved road and trail, as well as toilet and picnic area.

The proposal includes three to four exhibit structures providing shaded outdoor space for the replicas. It would also expand the parking lot and add a rock garden and child exploration area.

It would be paid for by the nongovernmental group, Friends of Big Bend.

"It will create the whole picture over what Big Bend was like over the past 100 million years," Corrick said. "And it will make a very powerful connection when you're interpreting a story and then it's right there next to that resource."

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Online: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=46379

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Information from: El Paso Times, http://www.elpasotimes.com

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