Paleontological Society Signs Historic Agreement with the National Park Service

The Paleontological Society is pleased to report the completion and signing of a joint Memorandum of Understanding with the National Park Service (NPS) and with the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. Although this MOU is potentially broad-reaching, one of its primary purposes is to enhance scientific efforts and stewardship of paleontological resources throughout the National Park System. The signing, which took place during a Government Affairs town hall meeting at the 2018 GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, culminated a process led by Vincent Santucci, Senior Paleontologist and Paleontology Program Coordinator, to envision and develop the memorandum.  Signatories included Dave Steensen, Chief of the Geological Resources Division for the National Park Service; Bruce MacFadden, President of the Paleontological Society; and P. David Polly, Past-President of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology, on behalf of President Emily Rayfield.  As part of the ceremony, both Societies were presented with commemorative plaques by the NPS.

This unprecedented agreement signals a new era of collaboration between the Societies and the United States Department of the Interior intended to enhance the scientific and educational viability of fossil assemblages located on lands administered by the NPS.  As part of the agreement, the NPS has pledged to undertake a needs assessment, including the establishment of a comprehensive database of instances in which parks seek guidance, support, and assistance with paleontological resources; identify opportunities for paleontologists to become involved in management and research on these resources; and establish internship opportunities for the Society’s student members.

A working group will be formed to advance the objectives and activities conveyed in the memorandum.  If you are interested in serving on the working group, or in reading the memorandum in its entirety, please reach out to Paleontological Society President Bruce MacFadden.  To further commemorate the growing relationship with the NPS, President MacFadden will be participating in an upcoming centennial celebration at Grand Canyon National Park, scheduled for National Fossil Day on September 28, 2019.

The agreement also reflects the growing involvement of the Paleontological Society in government affairs, as evidenced by the formation of a new Government Affairs committee, chaired by PS Past-President Sandra Carlson. The goals of the Government Affairs committee are three-fold:  to provide data, expertise, and advice to the PS Council on current issues relating to science policy and paleontology; to increase awareness among PS members through various educational activities of paleontological issues involving science-based decisions by policy makers; to provide communication training for members to encourage greater interaction with their national, state, and local elected officials.  The Paleontological Society partners with the American Geosciences Institute to sponsor a Summer Geoscience Policy Internship focused on issues of science and policy of relevance to the paleontological community.  The committee also facilitates the awarding of travel grants to two student members of the Paleontological Society to participate in AGI’s Geosciences Congressional Visits Day in September each year.  Participation by all PS members in the Government Affairs committee is welcomed!

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