Thursday, September 29, 2011

Expansion of the Petrified Forest National Park

A new acquisition of private ranchland will add 26,500 acres to the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. The acquisition will increase the parks boundaries by a quarter and provide new areas for archeological research. The petrified forest was first protected by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and became a national park in 1962. The National Park is a part of the Painted Desert which stretches from the Grand Canyon to the Petrified National Park. The Painted Desert gets its amazing colors from the iron and magnesium in the rocks.

Purchasing the land has been a goal since 1999, but the owner wanted a significant amount of money for the property, $500.00 per acre, so a deal was never agreed upon. The owner had plans to build a private museum and park, but the old guy finally died and the land was sold for $300.00 per acre. This was a relief for scientists that were worried a private park would entice people to poach for fossils and petrified wood. "The value of the land in terms of research, scientists say, is impossible to measure." The petrified forest dates to the Triassic Period when giant dinosaurs roamed what is now the Arizona landscape. In 1985, a small T. rex ancestor nicknamed "Gertie" was discovered at the park. The new land also contains archeological sites from Native American villages and petroglyph sites that could be very interesting.

Sep. 8, 2011 - NY Times

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