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Bill Would Create New State Park In Utah

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Ken Lund, commons.wikimedia.com
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A bill recently introduced to the Utah statehouse revealed more details on a new state park proposal in the Moab area. The legislation would appropriate $10 million for the creation of Utahraptor State Park, roughly 15 miles north of Arches National Park.  

The state park would include the famous Dalton Wells dinosaur quarry, located on the southern end of what’s known as the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway, a 500-mile long loop passing through various paleontological sites in Utah and Colorado.  

Jim Kirkland is the state paleontologist for Utah.  

“I think they actually have more dinosaur species at Dalton Wells than occur at Dinosaur National Monument. It’s pretty exciting. They’re all locals – you have Moabosaurus, Utahraptor, Gastonia – all these things are only in the Moab area,” Kirkland said.

Moab’s elected officials are now concerned about protecting these resources at Dalton Wells.  As local visitation numbers grow, more people are drawn to unregulated dispersed camping in the area, making Dalton Wells a magnet for waste in recent years – from litter and trash to illegal blackwater dumping. The $10 million appropriation would go to more comprehensive management of the area.  

In his experience, Kirkland said efforts toward resource protection and interpretive services also help reduce vandalism at paleo sites.  

“You know it's much less likely if someone's going to go in there and try to steal something where any moment someone could be coming to see the site and realizing, you know, maybe they're not supposed to be hacking these dinosaur tracks out of the ground,” Kirkland said.

If the Utahraptor state park bill passes the legislature, it would create the state’s 45th park.  

Thanks to Molly Marcello from KZMU in Moab for covering this story. Visit kzmu.org for more of her coverage.