John Day Fossil Beds
Administrative History
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Chapter Seven:

From 1975 to 1995, the monument received between 90,000 and 140,000 visitors each year. [1] These numbers made it perhaps the single most significant attraction in Grant and Wheeler counties, but visitors generally did not spend more than two hours at any one of the park's three units. [2] Over three-quarters of them utilized US 26 to reach the monument, and made several points in the Sheep Rock and Painted Hills units their most popular stops. Relatively few people saw other localities once they visited the Cant Ranch complex and Sheep Rock Overlook in the former unit, or the Painted Hills Overlook and picnic area in the latter. [3] The most frequently cited reasons for coming to the monument involved viewing scenery, followed by a chance to see fossils. [4]

With much of the visitation pattern somewhat evident by 1976, the NPS strove to construct wayside exhibits, build trails, and develop basic facilities in all three units. Personal interpretive services centered on the Cant Ranch, but Ladd and other NPS employees soon noticed that its setting proved distracting and often detrimental to telling the monument's paleontological story. [5] Regional office personnel eventually responded with a preliminary site plan in an attempt to separate the ranching and fossil themes, but NPS director William Penn Mott raised several objections to it in early 1988. Nevertheless, this planning effort continued and gave rise to hopes that a main visitor center devoted exclusively to the monument's paleontological story might be constructed adjacent to the Cant Ranch complex. Congress, however, did not provide construction money once planning and design had been completed in 1993, so the NPS put the project on hold until such funding is available. [6]

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Last Updated: 30-Apr-2002