Dinosaur footprints damaged by diggers at US tourist site

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Officials saw the damage at the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail site.

Office of Land Management – Moab and Canyon Country

Officials saw the damage at the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail site.

Dinosaur tracks dating back to 112 million years ago have been damaged in southeast Utah by heavy machinery used to rebuild a boardwalk in the popular tourist area, US officials say.

Damage at the Mill Canyon dinosaur track site was minor, but some footprints had fractures around the rims, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said in a recent report.

The agency also said an area where a prehistoric crocodile traversed a mudflat appeared to have been traversed multiple times by a backhoe, causing fractures, the Salt Lake Grandstand reported.

The site is considered one of the most important dinosaur track areas in the country, containing traces of at least 10 different species.

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The agency in the report said the project should be reassessed, the area clearly marked and work crews informed of where they can and cannot go.

The report also noted that the agency is expected to fill a vacant regional paleontologist position that has been vacant since 2018.

“To ensure this doesn’t happen again, we will follow the recommendations of the assessment, seek public feedback, and work with the paleontological community as we collectively progress the construction of boardwalks at the interpretive site,” said said the agency.

This revised report should be done this summer.

“It’s good that we prevented more damage,” said Jeremy Roberts, among those who asked the Bureau of Land Management to put the project on hold. “But it will continue to plague the state until we have a paleontologist.”

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