Thursday, March 12, 2009

McAbee Fossil Site

For Immediate Release
October 23, 2008


WILLIAMS LAKE— The McAbee fossil bed has suffered severe damage during six years of Campbell government inaction says Cariboo South MLA Charlie Wyse. The New Democrat MLA believes that the government needs to take significant steps to protect what is left of the site.

“After six long years of inaction only one of the mineral claims on the site is being regulated,” said Wyse. “It is not acceptable for a precious cultural and scientific resource to be turned into kitty litter. The government needs to work with the scientific community to assess the McAbee fossil beds and protect what remains."

Cariboo South MLA Charlie Wyse is happy that the Campbell Liberal government is beginning to take steps to protect the McAbee fossil bed. Paleontologists have been sounding the alarm about destructive mining of the site since 2002.

"I've been advocating for the protection of the McAbee fossil bed ever since this issue was brought to my attention," said Wyse. "While more protection of the McAbee site is welcome, I'm concerned that it has been left in the hands of the same commercial interests that have imposed wholesale destruction on the site."

Dr. Bruce Archibald, a paleontologist and post-doctoral fellow with Simon Fraser University who has studied McAbee insects and ecology, is not optimistic about the future of the site.

"While it's heartening that the Province is finally beginning to address the serious, tragic loss of an internationally significant fossil resource at the McAbee, the current MOU is clearly insufficient in protecting this paleontological treasure, and does not yet represent real progress,” said Archibald. “As the situation stands, deeply problematic issues remain unresolved that continue to threaten the scientific, heritage, and educational aspects of the site."
_The McAbee fossil bed is of great paleontological significance with extraordinary fossil resources that exist no where else in the world.

"Clearly the province needs a better framework in place to protect fossil sites. A scientific resource of this magnitude should not be subject to strip mining," said Wyse. "These fossils and the knowledge that is embedded in them are too important to be given away to commercial interests."
_Wyse has been advocating for the McAbee site to be developed as a paleontological interpretive centre like the T-Rex Discovery Centre in Eastend, Saskatchewan. A centre would not only protect the heritage value of the fossils and provide public interpretation and research but also provide economic benefits to regional communities.