The scientists of the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (PRPRC) and volunteers of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF) are completing another hugely successful field season. This has been made possible through generous donations of helicopter time, which facilitate access to remote mountain and valley locations. For the past two summers CGG Veritas has been superb in this regard, and this has been widely acknowledged (and will be the main subject of a feature magazine article soon to be published). Veritas has also made enormous contributions to the Monkman Pass Memorial Trail by flying the trail crew in and out of the mountains.
This year a local company, Ridge Rotors, has also begun to donate helicopter time. Base Manager for Ridge Rotors, Rob Haydock, said, “Ridge Rotors appreciates the opportunity to support the Museum Foundation and the community of Tumbler Ridge in this very important work.” Ridge Rotors has also been a major supporter of the Emperor’s Challenge Mountain Run and has taken this race to new heights by providing helicopter support.
The field research has taken two forms. Firstly, low elevation valley reconnaissance has allowed the successful search for new dinosaur bone sites, which will lead to new excavations. The PRPRC palaeontologists have done a great job of identifying these dinosaur sites. The evidence on the surface of these creatures is very subtle, which is a good thing in that no-one without their expertise is likely to find them and privately collect the bones. But it also means that such sites could be inadvertently destroyed without anyone knowing about them. Thanks to this work, British Columbia?s dinosaurs will continue to be formally collected, prepared, described, and eventually exhibited in Tumbler Ridge for the benefit of all.
Secondly, there are the remote sites for fish and marine reptiles. These are inaccessible by road or ATV, and hiking in to them would take days just to get there. Helicopter access allows for easy reconnaissance, and retrieval of the specimens, almost 200 of which have already been brought to the PRPRC this summer. Many of these vertebrate specimens are new not just for BC, but for palaeontology and science in general, and will also be prepared and researched, and the most suitable ones put on display. The TRMF has the strictest Code of Ethics in BC for fossil management and collection (in the lamentable and continuing absence of appropriate provincial legislation). Essentially, TRMF members respect that all these specimens go to the museum rather than into private collections.
Many funding agencies are keen to support educational programs and displays, but it is a lot harder to find funding for the essential field collection and research, which together lay the foundation for these programs and exhibits. LaPrairie Crane has consistently realized this, and supported the field work through donations for fuel expenses over the past five years. Now, thanks to the vision and these remarkably considerate donations of CGG Veritas and Ridge Rotors, Canada’s heritage continues to be discovered and preserved, and Tumbler Ridge and all British Columbians and visitors will be the beneficiaries.