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‘Fossil Freeway’ offers paleontology corridor to explore prehistoric fossil finds of Western Nebraska and South Dakota.

7/2/2009
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Lincoln, Neb. (June 22, 2009) –  From Nebraska’s Panhandle to the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Fossil Freeway consists of seven fossil-related sites located between Interstate-80 and Interstate-90. The attractions along this short stretch of highway, each exhibiting rare geologic wonders and paleontology discoveries, allow visitors to step back in time and experience the rich fossil history of the region along one scenic route. Each stop on this passageway features some of the best-preserved fossil mammoths, rhinos, camels, horses, birds, saber-toothed cats and more. Natural wonders include the peaceful scenery and abundant wildlife of the Nebraska Panhandle, the sandstone moonscapes of the Badlands and the mountainous beauty of the Black Hills.

The Fossil Freeway attractions include:  

·        Mammoth Site of Hot Springs (Hot Springs, SD)
·        Toadstool Geologic Park (Chadron, NE)
·        Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed (Chadron, NE)
·        University of Nebraska’s Trailside Museum of Natural History (Fort Robinson State Park, Crawford, NE)
·        Agate Fossil Beds National Monument (Harrison, NE)
·        Scotts Bluff National Monument (Gering, NE)
·        Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area (Gering, NE)

Individually, these attractions draw visitors to the region from far and wide every year. In a collaborative effort, these sites joined to form the Fossil Freeway Coalition in 2007 to increase awareness of the diverse collection of fossils concentrated along this corridor, as well as the region’s natural beauty, wildlife, and outdoor recreational activities. The partnership aims to encourage tourists to venture off the well-traveled I-80 in Nebraska and I-90 in South Dakota and introduce them to the adventures that are waiting to happen in the region in-between. The group launched its Web site www.fossilfreeway.net this month to serve as a resource for those interested in exploring the area.

Mark Harris, co-chair of the Fossil Freeway Coalition and associate director of the University of Nebraska State Museum, says that the group hopes to show tourists that they have a unique opportunity to visit an impressive array of world-class fossil sites in one easy trip.

“Few places in the world can boast about so many fantastic fossil discoveries covering such a huge range in ancient history—all located in a tight geographical group. We are unique in the world in that sense. We want people of all ages to hear about it and we want them to come visit us,” said Harris.

For more information about the Fossil Freeway and distinctive opportunities it offers to explore the fossil remains of Nebraska and South Dakota’s prehistoric past, as well as the natural beauty of the region, visit www.fossilfreeway.net. An interactive map, photos and details about other stops to make along the way are also available.

The Fossil Freeway Coalition, founded in 2007, is dedicated to increasing awareness of the rich diversity of natural history in the Nebraska Panhandle and in western South Dakota. The coalition consists of Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, Toadstool Geologic Park, Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed, the University of Nebraska’s Trailside Museum of Natural History, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Scotts Bluff National Monument and Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. The group is funded primarily by a grant from the Midwest Region of the National Parks Services, as well as private donations. For more information about the Fossil Freeway sites, visit www.fossilfreeway.net. For questions about the Fossil Freeway Coalition, e-mail Mark Harris at mharris2@unl.edu or phone (402) 472-6699.


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