MOAB, Utah (AP) — Dinosaur tracks from 112 million years ago have been damaged in southeastern Utah by heavy machinery used to rebuild a boardwalk at the popular tourist area, U.S. officials say.
The damage at the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite is minor but some footprints had fractures around the rims, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management recently said in a report.
The agency also said an area where a prehistoric crocodile crossed a mud flat appeared to have been driven over multiple times by a backhoe, causing fracturing, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The site is considered among the most important dinosaur track areas in the nation, containing tracks from at least 10 different species.
The agency in the report said the project should be reevaluated, the area clearly marked and work crews briefed on where they can and can’t go.
The report also noted that the agency should fill a vacancy for a regional paleontologist that has been vacant since 2018.
“To ensure this does not happen again, we will follow the recommendations in the assessment, seek public input, and work with the paleontology community as we collectively move forward on constructing boardwalks at the interpretive site,” the agency said.
That revised report should be done this summer.
“It’s good that we stopped more damage from happening,” said Jeremy Roberts, among those who sought to have the Bureau of Land Management pause the project. “But this will continue to plague the state until we get a paleontologist.”