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Department of Interior Designates New National Natural Landmark

The West Bijou Site Chosen as 599th National Natural Landmark


The designation of West Bijou as a national natural landmark recognizes its irreplaceable and unique features, including pollen records and vertebrate fossils.

The National Park Service announced in a press release on Thursday that Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell has designated the West Bijou Site in eastern Colorado as America's newest national natural landmark. The 7,613-acre site provides a rich fossil record critical for understanding the timescale of all of Earth's history.

The West Bijou site is located 31 miles east of Denver and features a 1.18-inch band of sediments that mark both the massive extinction of dinosaurs and the dawning of the new Cenozoic Era. This moment in time is known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary and is the most recent of Earth's five large mass extinctions. The site also contains evidence supporting the hypothesis that the mass extinctions were caused by an asteroid.

"The information contained in that thin sediment band illustrates the key feature of national natural landmarks as significant natural areas recognized for their irreplaceable features," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

The National Parks Service oversees the National Natural Landmarks Program. Established in 1962, the program recognizes and encourages the conservation of sites that best illustrate the nation's biological and geological history. A variety of public and private land stewards own and operate America's natural landmarks. The NPS works cooperatively with landowners and managers to promote conservation and appreciation of the nation's natural heritage.

The West Bijou Site is the 599th national natural landmark designation the National Park Service has overseen. The site is owned and operated by the Plains Conservation Center, a not for profit organization striving to connect people with the cultural and natural history of the high plains.

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December 11, 2018, 2:08 am PST

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