LRIP Foundations for Planning

Kenyan Wildlife Service Rangers in uniform
Kenyan Wildlife Service Rangers face many of our same concerns in preserving fossils at our sister park- Sibiloi National Park.

Site Background

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument (park) preserves the fossil remains of more than 140 fossil species from the Pliocene epoch (5.3 to 2.6 million years ago) and is recognized as one of North America’s most important localities concerning the evolution of the horse. The park’s geologic strata are a slice of the Pliocene, providing a detailed record of an evolving environment that spans at least 500,000 years. It includes fossils found nowhere else in the world. The density, diversity, and quality of fossils led to the site being designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1975.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument lies within a scenic region of southern Idaho where sandy bluffs, basalt canyons, waterfalls, and hot springs are interspersed between vineyards, ranches, and farms producing various crops including sugar beets, potatoes, and corn. The 4,394-acre park lies just west of the town of Hagerman. The park’s fossil beds offer a world-class setting to conduct research that can better enable the scientific community, the public, and land managers to understand the past.

Located just two miles from the town of Hagerman in southern Idaho, the park annually attracts more than 23,000 visitors and researchers. In addition to the ongoing research at Hagerman Fossil Beds, the park maintains a close relationship with its Kenyan sister park, Sibioli National Park, another site of important fossil deposits. The National Park Service and Kenya’s Wildlife Service and National Museums of Kenya signed a sister park agreement on June 30, 2013 to promote international cooperation and collaboration. This is the first National Park Service sister park agreement with an African nation.
old fossil prep area with tools and fossils
Jacketed fossils wait for attention in the old Prep Area; the new proposed Prep Area would include a public viewing window.

Interior Department Policy on Science

Because science research and the display and interpretation of scientific specimens rests at the core of Hagerman Fossil Beds legislation, the most recent statement of the Department of the Interior’s policy on scientific integrity (Department Manual (305 DM 3), dated January 28, 2011, provides important guidance as does Director’s Order 79, Integrity of Scientific and Scholarly Activities signed on September 19, 2012. Specifically, the Code of Conduct requirements to “communicate the results of scientific and scholarly activities clearly, honestly, objectively, thoroughly, accurately, and in a timely manner”; and, to “clearly differentiate among facts, personal opinions, assumptions, hypotheses, and professional judgment in reporting the results of scientific and scholarly activities and characterizing associated uncertainties in using those results for decision making, and in representing those results to other scientists, decision makers, and the public” will influence the development of future interpretive and educational products and services.

3.4 Policy. The Department of the Interior supports a culture of scientific and scholarly integrity. Science and scholarship play a vital role in the Department’s mission, providing one of several critical inputs to decision making on conservation and responsible development of natural resources, preservation of cultural resources, and responsibilities to tribal communities. The Department recognizes the importance of scientific and scholarly information and science and scholarship as methods for maintaining and enhancing our
effectiveness and establishing credibility and value with all sectors of the public, both nationally and internationally. The Department is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the scientific and scholarly activities it conducts, and activities that are conducted on its behalf. It will not tolerate loss of integrity in the performance of scientific and scholarly activities or in the application of science and scholarship in decision making.


The purpose of Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is to “Preserve outstanding Pliocene paleontological resources, to serve as a center for furthering scientific research, and to broaden public understanding of the science of paleontology and the significance of the Hagerman fossil record.”


These are detailed in the park's Foundation Document.

  • The park contains globally significant paleontological resources
  • The park’s paleontological resources are contained in an extensive stratigraphic record
  • The fossil record at Hagerman Fossil Beds provides a detailed glimpse into life that occurred during the Pliocene period
  • The species found within the Hagerman fossil record include the ancestors of species living today.
  • The park features a fossil horse quarry
  • The fossil-rich landscape at the park is the result of 4.2 million years of geologic history of sedimentary deposition, fossilization, and erosion.
  • Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is one of the few federally administered fossil sites specifically set aside for paleontological research.

Fundamental Resources and Values

Fundamental resources and values (FRVs) are those features, systems, processes, experiences, stories, scenes, sounds, smells, or other attributes determined to warrant primary consideration during planning and management processes because they are essential to achieving the purpose of the park and maintaining its significance. Fundamental resources and values are closely related to a park’s legislative purpose and are more specific than significance statements. These are detailed in the park's Foundation Document.

  • Pliocene Fossils
  • Public Understanding of Paleontology at Hagerman Fossil Beds
  • Lead and Facilitate Research
  • Geologic Processes
  • A Record of Paleoecosystems

Other Important Resources and Value

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument contains other resources and values that are not fundamental to the purpose of the park and may be unrelated to its significance, but are important to consider in planning processes. These are referred to as “other important resources and values” (OIRV). These resources and values have been selected because they are important in the operation and management of the park and warrant special consideration in park planning.

  • Oregon Trail
  • Scenic Geologic Landscape
  • Modern Flora and Fauna Communities
  • Natural Quiet, Night Sky
  • Native People

Interpretive Management Goals

The following goals reflect how interpretation and education will support broader management goals with an emphasis on helping people understand the value of the resource and fostering a sense of stewardship:

Goal A: Core Interpretive Program
Park staff will identify, develop, and sustain a contemporary and relevant “basic interpretive program” of orientation, information and interpretation and education programs, products and services that are readily available and free to the public; offered on a consistent and seasonally appropriate basis; and incorporates both personal and non-personal service formats.

Goal B: Professional Excellence-Professional Standards-Training
This comprehensive interpretive program, regardless of provider, will be grounded in current scholarship; the best available social science regarding audiences and learning styles; incorporate contemporary interpretive techniques and methods; consider park and audience relevance; and will be regularly reviewed for interpretive effectiveness.

Goal C: Collaborate with Formal and Informal Partners
Partnerships, both formal and informal, will be identified and developed to expand the park’s reach, fostering a sense of pride and ownership; stewardship of park resources; resource protection and an awareness of the park’s contribution to local and regional economies and the quality of life.

Goal D: Interpretive Programs, Products, and Services Will Reach Out to New and Underserved Audiences
Park staff will develop a variety of interpretive programs, products, and services supporting targeted community outreach efforts with a focus on forming connections with new and underserved audiences in the surrounding community, local area, and through international connections.

Goal E: Interpretive Products Will Reflect the Diversity of Delivery Methods, Changing Demographics and Emerging Technology
The overall interpretive program will purposefully match park messages, delivery techniques and methods and audiences with particular emphasis on changing demographics, emerging technologies, and contemporary relevance of park resources to diverse audiences.

Goal F: Comprehensive Youth Program
The park will develop and provide a comprehensive park-wide Youth Program designed to engage youth in educational, recreational, and workforce developmental opportunities which support stewardship, skill development, and potential career opportunities resulting in meaningful connections with the park and National Park Service.

Goal G: Connect Visitors with the Primary Park Resource– the Fossil Beds
At Hagerman Fossil Beds visitors cannot physically go to and experience the fossil beds first hand, nor can they safely handle the actual fossils. Interpretation has the responsibility to bridge the gap between the visitor and the resource. The park will focus on developing programs and facilities for place-based interpretation.

Goal H: Make Tribal Connections
Changes in the understanding of the park’s resources, from a cultural perspective, should be explored and shared with park visitors. If associated tribes are willing to share histories related to the park including past use of lands, cultural importance of flora and fauna, and any histories related to fossils, we should make an effort to share them when appropriate.

Last updated: December 18, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 570
Hagerman, ID 83332


(208) 933-4105

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