At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils

Among the fossils found at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument are this trio of petrified redwood stumps. NPS photo.

Though the facilities at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument aren't as old as the fossils the site protects, at times it seems like they are.

The tiny visitor center, a cabin dating to 1924, is home to mice, has a sinking foundation, no fire suppression system, and not enough space to display fossils, according to officials. And the building where most of the site's fossils are stored, an A-frame cabin built in 1965, has similar problems.

Not surprisingly, monument officials are looking forward to the day when they can break ground on a $2.9 million visitor center and research center.

"It will just be a much more meaningful experience to connect people with what’s going on in the park, and there will be more fossils to see,” park Superintendent Keith Payne told the Colorado Springs Gazette.

While National Park Service officials in charge of the agency's construction schedule have given a tentative approval to the visitor center, right now funding is not expected to arrive until .... 2011.

Comments

Sounds like a project for the Centennial if I ever heard of one. But I suppose that FLFO doesn't have any friends with money....

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jr_ranger
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President, CHS SPEAK (CHS Students Promoting Environmental Action & Knowledge)
Founder and President, CHS Campus Greens

It's also not a "dream park" for NPS career ladder climbers but an out of the way backwater unit that might possibly serve as a place to get your first "permanent" assignment and then onward and upward. The funding is certainly not there nor is the respect and pride that might come from more localized management. To most agency professionals this is the proverbial Siberian hinterland assignment. I'm sure that many of the dedicated staff members of this park must certainly feel at times like an unwanted step-child in the vast far flung NPS empire.

How does "Florissant Fossil Beds State Park" sound? It's worth looking into. Lord knows Colorado has more money than the Federal government does these days.

As a National Park completist, I took the trek from Denver to "tour" Florissant and I was embarrassed by the "visitor's center" and the unfliching pride of the only on-site ranger who put on his best face while enduring the limitations of his position there. This is the shame of the NPS and I could not recommend this park for visitation as it reflects badly on our nation.

I hope you dropped a few bucks in the donation box... every dollar counts. Sounds like a few extra mouse traps could make or break your experience there... ;-)

-- Jon Merryman

How does "Florissant Fossil Beds State Park" sound?

I´m the Lorax who speaks for the fossils
which have been here since long before all the apostles.
And I´m also in charge of the lizards and newts
who played in the swamp in their lizard-skin suits
and happily lived, eating fossilized fruits.
NOW...thanks to your selling my park to the state,
there´s not enough people concerned of their fate.
And those people who visit from Kalamazoo
just won't even stop -- they'll just drive right on through!

-- with apologies to Theo LeSieg ;-)

The sentiment is well taken, but I'm not certain that the only tag that draws cross-country trekkers ends with National Park, National Monument, National Preserve, etc. While the majority of state managed facilities are indeed lacking in many areas of grandeur, most notably in their food and lodging aspects, what lies within the boundries of the parks (e.g. scenery, solitude) is more often than not well worth the extra time and effort. Bear in mind however, the main reason that the state parks do not offer these ammenities is the fact that they generate a minute revenue stream based largely on the fact that they don't collect admission fees, and the fees that they do charge are generally about half of similar NPS facilities. Not surprisingly, the proximity of ammenities to these "ugly sister" parks are many times conveniently located in the surrounding communities, many of which rely heavily on the annual influx of travel season tourist dollars, and are either adjacent to or a very short commute from the parks. (There are exceptions however, and you may find yourself literally stuck with either McArches or the gas station QuickieMart, which will probably be in the same building.) And VERY few state parks lack for tent and hard-side camping facilities, just pillow-top beds and in-room jacuzzi tubs. I guess it depends on which of the following options suit you best: 1) pack in your own meals and temporary residence, 2) camp at the park and head into town for breakfast and dinner, concentrating on the local cuisine to optimize your experinece, 3) complain to the staff that they are missing the opportunity of a lifetime by not having built a 5-star hotel / spa in anticipation of your arrival, or 4) miss out on the opportunity to expand your appreciation for some historically significant portions of the history of our country, highlighting the best and worst of our heritage on a national, regional and local level.

At least I'm not looking to climb the ladder.....

---
jr_ranger
http://tntrailhead.blogspot.com
http://zinch.com/jr_ranger
http://picasaweb.google.com/north.cascades
President, CHS SPEAK (CHS Students Promoting Environmental Action & Knowledge)
Founder and President, CHS Campus Greens

I generally prefer state parks to national parks because they offer a more resource focused experience and are not managed by people who are just stopping off for a few years before moving on to another park, in another part of the country, to help complete a career punch-list. Some of the states with excellent park systems include: Florida, Texas, Nebraska, West Virginia, Nevada, South Dakota, California and Oregon.

I find it ironic that Merryland is saying that turning these currently neglected fossil beds over to another controlling authority would result in not enough people being concerned with their fate. Isn't this article about NPS neglect of the Lorax's beloved fossils?

P.S. Good for you Jr. Ranger. Love the JUST the parks and your career will go nowhere, but you'll have a better time and get to date more girls in the gateway towns. Believe me I know!

Beamis's logic, as usual, is sound and thoughtful.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park is a well-run state park, and the sequoias are well-protected. Sounds to me like some people can't accept local control and protection of natural resources. By that argument, parks like Calaveras should be transfered to the NPS. Were that to happen, they'd probably dig a sewer line through the grove like they did next to ol' General Grant in the 1960s. Rip apart, sever, maim, kill thousand-year-old roots so you can flush your crap in the grove. That's NPS protection fer ya.

Oh, and speaking of sequoias, are those fossilized Sequoiadendron giganetum or Sequoia semprevirens in the photo ("redwood stumps")?

C'mon Frank, look at the tree rings. Obviously it's Sequoia affinis, which is most closely related to today's semprevirens.

Kurt...you kill me...in a good way!

Thanks Kurt! You're full of so much information.

Sadly, the training at SEKI never covered fossilized Taxodiaceae or Cupressaceae or whatever it is now, and I never stumbled upon any mention of it at the Park in the pre-Internet era. I had to settle for living with the living ones.

However, if you want to know where the historical blueprints are with the sewer line through Grant's roots, I can point you in that direction.

I too have been to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and have been appalled as well. Its really a shame, as this place has some of the most truly amazing fossils found anywhere in the world - insects so finely preserve in stone that you can even see the veins in the wings! Thanks for bringing this appalling situation to a wider audience!