John Day Fossil Beds
Administrative History
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Purpose of the park

According to the National Park Service's strategic plan, the purpose of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is:

To protect the paleontological resources of the John Day Basin and provide for, and promote, the scientific and public understanding of those resources. [16]

This statement comes from the NPS planning process, not legislation, because an omnibus bill signed by President Gerald Ford on October 26, 1974, only authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to acquire lands identified on a boundary map. The monument's establishment proceeded without a statutory statement of purpose because sponsors of the authorizing legislation intended that John Day Fossil Beds National Monument take form through the agency's planning process. Within the first year of assuming control, the NPS arrived at a relatively general statement of purpose for the park in 1976 and subsequently incorporated it in the monument's general management plan approved in 1979. This one read:

To identify, interpret, and protect the geologic, paleontological, natural, and cultural resources along the central and upper John Day River and to provide facilities that will promote and assist visitor recreational enjoyment and understanding of the same. [17]

By 1995, however, the NPS believed that the significance of the monument's fossil resources warranted making paleontological values officially preeminent. As they put it:

The John Day Basin contains one of the longest and most continuous records of evolutionary change and biotic relationships in the world; this outstanding fossil records heightens our understanding of the earth's history and its biological evolution. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument contains a concentration of localities that are a major part of that record. The John Day Basin is one of the few areas on the planet with numerous well preserved and ecologically diverse biotas, entombed in dateable volcanoclastics, spanning a long interval of dynamic paleoclimate changes. [18]

Next> Scope and format of the narrative

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Last Updated: 30-Apr-2002