BLM Acknowledges Crews Damaged Mill Canyon Dinosaur Track Site
MOAB, Utah — Six weeks after saying it had found no evidence its crews had damaged an important dinosaur tracking site outside of Moab, the Bureau of Land Management released a report acknowledging that crews of construction had actually damaged the Mill Canyon site.
BLM: Minor damage to Mill Canyon
Some dinosaur footprints at Mill Canyon suffered what BLM officials describe as minor damage. This happened when construction crews worked to replace a promenade for visitors.
In February, BLM officials released a statement saying they found no evidence of damage.
“At this time we have no evidence of damage in the interpreted area, but out of an abundance of caution a team will be dispatched to assess,” the statement read.
But in April, the Mill Canyon website includes the following update:
BLM is committed to protecting plant and animal fossils on our public lands. We carefully reviewed the findings and recommendations of the Paleontological Assessment of the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracking Site, which confirmed that some dinosaur footprints had minor damage, primarily north of the main interpretive site. To prevent this from happening again, we will follow the recommendations of the assessment, seek public input, and work with the paleontological community as we collectively progress the construction of boardwalks at the interpretive site. The maintenance and restoration of these interpretive walkways are necessary to protect and properly manage the paleontological resources of this important site.
Before BLM resumes construction, we will write a supplemental environmental assessment that will include a paleontologist’s review and analyze alternative access routes and construction materials. We will be seeking public comment for 30 days on the project and anticipate a decision in the summer of 2022.
Why Mill Canyon Matters
The dinosaur tracking site at Mill Canyon dates back to the early Cretaceous, the last period of the Mesozoic era. That makes it about 112 million years old.
According to the Bureau of Land Management, the site features more than 200 tracks and traces of at least ten different types of Mesozoic animals. As such, it provides important details about how these animals, including birds, crocodiles, and dinosaurs, lived and moved.
You can read the paleontologist’s full report on the site and the damage here.