Utahraptor State Park bill stalls in Senate committee

March 3, 2020 GMT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An important dinosaur site in Utah is unlikely to become a state park after a measure in the state Legislature was denied.

A bill to create Utahraptor State Park failed Monday in the Senate Natural Resources Committee over funding issues, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The measure would have established the state park near Arches National Park to develop and preserve a dinosaur quarry and surrounding area, bill sponsor Republican Rep. Steve Eliason said.

Currently, the Dalton Wells Quarry site is threatened by unregulated camping, vandalism and looting about 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of Moab.

The quarry, which yielded the first fossils of Utahraptor, sits on a horseshoe-shaped 6.6-square-mile (17-square-kilometer) parcel of land that has massive deposits of dinosaur bones from at least 10 species found nowhere else in North America.

But the estimated $10 million cost of establishing the state park has held up the approval process.

“It is my hope that some way, if this bill does pass this session, that somehow those funds are scraped up to be able to make it work,” said Jeff Rasmussen, director of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation. “Because the other scenario would be a new park with a state park name without the funding to take care of it.”