Geology and Paleontology
Of the natural, scientific, and recreational resources within the area of study, those of paramount importance are scientific. Specifically, they are those resources concerned with geology and paleontology, including paleobotany.
A plaque designating the Thomas Condon-John Day Fossil Beds State Park as a Registered Natural Landmark was presented to the State of Oregon on March 1, 1967. Thus the national significance of the fossil beds and their exceptional value and importance in illustrating the natural history of the United States is recognized and established.
The paleontological and associated resources of the Upper John Day Basin were evaluated for purposes of this study by Dr. J. Arnold Shotwell, Director of the Museum of Natural History, University of Oregon. Dr. Shotwell's report, submitted to the National Park Service on July 20, 1967, contains the following conclusions:
His report concludes further:
Dr. Shotwell supports his evaluation and conclusions with statements quoted from three widely recognized authorities: Thomas Condon, who conducted most of the initial research on the geologic history of the area, beginning in 1864; Dr. J. C. Merriam of the University of California and the Carnegie Institution; and R. W. Chaney, who conducted extensive research on the fossil flora of the area about 10 years ago.
In 1948, the last named authority said:
The Shotwell report was submitted for verification to Dr. Theodore E. White, Paleontologist, Dinosaur National Monument; and to Dr. J. T. Dutro, Jr., Chief, Paleontology and Stratigraphy Branch, U.S. National Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Both scientists have indicated by letter that they are in full agreement with Dr. Shotwell's conclusions and recommendations.
The colorful exposures of the John Day Formation and the high buttes, escarpments, and pinnacles formed by the Columbia River Basalts and the Clarno exposures in Wheeler County and the western part of Grant County present a pleasing and quite impressive scenic landscape. This is particularly true of the countryside along State Highway 19 from its junction with U.S. 26 at Picture Gorge north to Kimberly and on north and west to the communities of Spray, Service Creek, Fossil, and Clarno; adjacent to State Route 207 from Service Creek southward to Mitchell on U.S. 26; along State Route 208 from Kimberly east to Monument and Long Creek; and along north-south U.S. 395 from Long Creek to Mount Vernon.
The John Day River is normally an attractive, clear-flowing stream. However, it becomes extremely low or sometimes dry in late summer. While the landscape values of the area are of definite interest and appeal to the visitor, they are not outstanding or spectacular in the sense of a Canyonlands landscape, for example, and they are not of national importance.
The historic resources of the John Day Basin present typical evidences of frontier activities and development. They are primarily of State or local significance.
The archeological resources of the Upper John Day River Basin were assessed by David L. Cole, Curator of Anthropology, University of Oregon Museum of Natural History. Cole's report of July 24, 1967 contains the following conclusion as to their significance:
The John Day River is quite limited in existing recreation facilities though it has the potential for a number of activities. The higher, forested area surrounding the valley contains extensive recreational resources. Facilities have been developed here to meet present demands, and this area has unlimited possibility for expansion.
Additional opportunities for water-related recreation may be created by the impoundments which are currently proposed by the Bureau of Reclamation. Such opportunities would vary with the combination of impoundments that might be authorized but, in any event, they would be of State or local importance.
SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANCE
1. Scientific research and analysis, verified by qualified authorities, has determined that the geological and paleontological resources of the Upper John Day Basin are definitely of national significance.
2. The limited research conducted to date has revealed no outstanding or nationally significant archeological sites in the basin. However, archeologists believe some may exist.
3. The evaluation resulting from the field investigation made by the National Park Service study team has established that the scenic, historic, and recreation resources of the basin are principally of State or local interest and importance.
Last Updated: 07-May-2007