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By John W. Hoganson

In May, 1995, John Bluemle, State Geologist of North Dakota, and Nancy Curriden, Forest Supervisor--USFS-Custer National Forest, signed a memorandum of agreement to establish a cooperative effort with respect to management and protection of significant paleontological resources on National Forest System lands in North Dakota. This MOA revised and updated a similar agreement that was established between the NDGS and USFS in 1987. The 1987 MOA was the first of its kind between the USFS and any state regarding management of fossil resources. Subsequently, other states have established similar pacts with the USFS. The 1987 MOA established a timely and active working relationship between the NDGS and USFS regarding fossil resources, but it was decided that a few minor revisions to the agreement were appropriate to enhance the effort.

The salient points of the revised MOA are:

1) The USFS will notify the NDGS when they receive an application for a permit to conduct paleontological investigations on USFS lands in North Dakota and will send a copy of the activity proposal to the NDGS for evaluation. The NDGS will evaluate the proposal and advise the USFS of the appropriateness of the proposal and make recommendations to the USFS as to whether or not a permit should be issued for the activity and if so, under what conditions. If the NDGS receives a request to collect paleontological resources on National Forest System lands in North Dakota, the NDGS will notify the applicant that a federal permit is required and inform the applicant of how to obtain a permit.

2) The USFS and NDGS will exchange site information regarding fossil occurrences on National Forest System lands in North Dakota.

The NDGS will evaluate the significance of paleontological sites on National Forest System lands in North Dakota to aid resource management planning.

3) The agreement allows qualified professional paleontologists with the NDGS to conduct surface collection of fossil specimens on National Forest System lands in North Dakota. Fossil finds by the NDGS are to be reported to the USFS with an evaluation of the significance of the fossil site.

4) When a potentially significant paleontological site is discovered and/or threatened by human activities or natural events that could impact or destroy the site on National Forest System land in North Dakota, a qualified paleontologist with the NDGS will make a site significance determination and, if appropriate, identify mitigation measures.

Fossil Management Agreement

5) Although all significant fossil specimens collected from federal lands remain the property of the United States government, those collected from National Forest System lands in North Dakota are to be catalogued into the NDGS administered North Dakota State Fossil Collection at the Heritage Center. In addition, after appropriate study, a representative sample of fossil specimens collected in North Dakota under a USFS permit will be required to be deposited with the NDGS for permanent curation in the North Dakota State Fossil Collection. The NDGS agrees to take care of these USFS fossil specimens and maintain records regarding the specimens.

The NDGS has similar agreements concerning the management of paleontological resources with the Federal Bureau of Land Management and U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. We view these agreements as integral to our Fossil Resource Management Program.

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Updated: 08.11.06