Last week, the US Department of the Interior released a proposed set of rules
for paleontology on lands that they manage (more info from SVP here
). We are now at the beginning of a two month comment period--meaning that you
can provide input!
In this post, I walk through three particular questions related to these rules. Note that the text here should not be construed to reflect official positions by Society of Vertebrate Paleontology or my employer.
Why should you comment?
It is not much of an exaggeration to say that nearly every vertebrate paleontologist in the world has studied fossils collected from lands managed by the Department of the Interior. The rules affect you! As you read them over, perhaps you will think of a special case that is not addressed, or perhaps you will spot a rule that might place an unusual burden on your research program or institution. Once the finalized rules are in place, we have an ethical and professional duty to abide by them. Unless you speak up now, there is little possibility for change! Our comments are taken seriously, and may have an important impact on long-term federal policy.
What can you comment on?
I recommend looking for items that impact you personally. For instance, if you do lots of work with histology, you might check out the section on consumptive sampling. If you do lots of fieldwork, review the rules relevant to permitting and reporting. In your response, specific examples of how the rules affect you are very helpful.
How should you comment?
All comments can be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal
(with Regulation Identifier Number 1093-AA16) or by mail (information here
). Official directions are included there. As you draft your comment, ensure that it is factual, respectful, and realistic in scope. Read the draft rules carefully, to make sure that your comments (if any) address the proposed text. State your professional qualifications and experience. Use specific examples if possible.
The deadline is February 6, 2017. Take some time to be an active professional. Your comments will
make a difference. Our field and our fossils are counting on you!
--Dr. Andy Farke is the Augustyn Family Curator at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, California.