Colorado golf course faces conflict with dinosaur fossils
GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) – The city is moving forward with a plan to build a golf course on land holding ancient fossils, prompting protests from dinosaur lovers who fear the ancient sites could be damaged.
”The focus now is on what is right for the golf course, not what is right for paleontology,” said Valerie Walker of Golden.
At a groundbreaking ceremony Monday night, critics stood nearby carrying signs decrying ”Golf instead of history.” City officials have received at least seven e-mails from around the country protesting the plan.
Golden, the only major city without a golf course in a state known for its outdoor recreation, had searched for a site for a course for more than 10 years. Earlier this year, the owner of a former clay mine donated land for a championship course.
However, the site includes 65 million-year-old tracks of duckbilled Hadrosaurs, crocodile-like reptiles known as Champosaurs and carnivorous dinosaurs called Theropods, as well as the track of a Triceratops.
Under the city’s plan, three of the five fossil sites will be preserved. A palm frond will be put in the club house and a fifth site will be covered up.
The public will be allowed to view the fossils on special days.
The three sites to be preserved are in clay hillsides three to 12 feet tall. Two face away from the course; one faces it, meaning it could be hit by an errant golf ball.
”I think we’re doing it right. If it wasn’t for the golf course we wouldn’t be able to pay for the preservation,” said City Manager Mike Bestor.
State Archaeologist Susan Collins, who has toured the site, endorsed the plan. She did not return a call for comment Tuesday.
But critics say the city is overlooking the archaeological significance of the sites and say more fossils may be found. They want the whole site surveyed by Collins before construction begins.
”These fossils should not only be preserved but made accessible to the public and not be buried,” Joe Tempel, executive of the group Friends of Dinosaur Ridge, wrote to city officials last week.
Tempel, whose group runs a nearby site that displays fossils, said the golf course fossils could become a tourist draw, like the nearby grave of Buffalo Bill Cody or the Coors Brewery.
Chip Parfet, who donated 52.5 acres to the city on the condition that it be used for a golf course, is miffed at the controversy.
”I already saved the dinosaurs. I’ve been doing it for 20 years,” said Parfet, who for years has protected fossils found in palm fronds at the former mine. ”I could have sold these fossils for a lot of money.”
On the Net:
City of Golden: http://www.ci.golden.co.us
Dinosaur Ridge: http://www.dinoridge.org
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