Once authorization of the monument took place in October 1974, its administration entered a formative phase. In establishing a National Park Service presence in the upper John Day Basin, the agency concentrated on developing a staff and protecting fossil resources with a low-key, educational approach. Upon completion of basic visitor facilities in 1978, Park Superintendent Ben Ladd considered it to be the first year that the monument functioned as a fully operational unit of the National Park System. 
A prototype planning process accompanied these efforts, paralleling efforts to acquire and rehabilitate prospective administrative facilities at the Cant Ranch. The planning process also gave impetus to legislated boundary changes in all three units, so that by August 1978 the NPS could release a draft general management plan (GMP) for public review and comment. By the end of that year planners nearly completed the GMP, something which served as the basis for NPS efforts to continue land acquisition, manage park resources, and provide visitor services.
Last Updated: 30-Apr-2002