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Transmission Paleontological Resources

Paleontological Resources
Present, Potentially Affected

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act, Paleontological Resources Preservation (16 U.S.C. 470aaa et seq. P.L 111-011, Title IV, Subtitle D) prohibits “inexpert collecting”, inaccurate identification and improper storage of paleontological resources at the federal level. A paleontological resource is, “any fossilized remains, traces, or imprints of organisms, preserved in or on the earth's crust, that are of paleontological interest and that provide information about the history of life on earth.” Examples include: prehistoric artifacts and fossils; and historic ruins. Paleontological resources do not include, “archaeological resources (as defined in section 3(1) of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (16 U.S.C. 470bb(1) or any cultural item (as defined in section 2 of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (25 U.S.C. 3001)).” http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/CRM/paleontology/paleontological_regulations.print.html Paleontological resources are considered “trust resources” on tribal lands, meaning it is up to the landowner whether or not they decide to sell the resources. If the landowner intends to protect the resources, mitigation measures are necessary.

Paleontological Resources Impacts & Mitigation

Prior to transmission line development, surveys are conducted to assess impacts to paleontological resources and if they exist at the proposed site. While site assessments and surveys are comprehensive, it is still possible to discover paleontological resources underneath vegetation or buried in the soil during development phases. Construction activities have a high impact on paleontological resources if no action is taken to preserve these resources.

To ensure paleontological resource protection, typical mitigation measures include the following:

Resource discovery

  • If paleontological resources are discovered during site construction, all activity must halt.
  • The object(s) are to remain in place until a professional paleontologist has completed an evaluation.
  • If necessary, cover the object(s) to reduce human, wildlife and air contaminant impacts.
  • The evaluation will point to whether management plans, corridor relocation, or alternative materials are needed.


  • To prevent paleontological resource damage, especially in an area where resources are expected, educate all personnel on land surface disruption techniques including soil excavation, topsoil removal and storage, and water diversion.


  • Travel on existing access roads. Prohibit off-road vehicle use and paths to avoid unexpected damages to chance paleontological discoveries and natural habitats.