Tumbler Ridge Dinosaur Project Evolving

The British Columbia Dinosaur Discovery Gallery will be the next step in the ongoing evolution of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation?s Peace Region Palaeontology Research Center (PRPRC). It all started with the initial discovery of dinosaur tracks by two local young boys beside a creek near the town of Tumbler Ridge in 2000. Then the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF) was formed with palaeontology as one of its major themes. In 2002 BC?s first (and by far western Canada?s oldest) accumulation of dinosaur bone material was discovered in another creek bed close to town.

These discoveries led to the 2004 formation of the PRPRC and the establishment of a modern facility, unique to this province. Vertebrate palaeontologists Rich McCrea, western Canada?s dinosaur footprint authority, and BC-born Lisa Buckley, with complementary expertise in dinosaur bones, assumed research and curatorial positions in May, 2004 and have been hard at work since, developing a collections area and preparation lab, and researching an incredible wealth of fossil materials.

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) through the Community Futures Development Corporation of the Peace Liard understood the importance of this initiative and felt it matched their mandate to support the development and growth of a western Canadian economy that is inclusive, innovative, sustainable and diversified. In 2004, Western Economic Diversification through the Softwood Lumber Initiative Program funneled $163,650.00 through Community Futures to the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation, ensuring their success with their early developmental plans.

This funding ensured that TRMF could move forward, and was pivotal in securing matching funds contributed from private donations and industry. The remaining funds required for this project were underwritten by the District of Tumbler Ridge. This allowed the initial outfitting of the PRPRC, with the necessary equipment.

Community Futures Development of the Peace Liard is proud to have played an integral part in making this very important project a reality. Today, Sue Kenny, Community Futures General Manager has announced an additional injection of WD funds into the project. Through Community Futures Development Corporation, Western Economic Development Diversification is once again providing $75,000 towards this $93,750.00 project. This funding will support the creation of a public display area including a gallery and administrative offices for the British Columbia Dinosaur Discovery Gallery.

This exciting new expansion will see the development of educational materials and the creation of dinosaur skeletal displays, which tell the regional palaeontology story. Amongst other exhibits, the walls and ceiling will be adorned with replicas of dinosaur trackways, and a paleoconservatory will showcase plant specimens like cycads and gingko alongside their locally found fossil ancestors. There will be several cabinet and wall displays and an interactive display is also planned. The grand opening of this new wing is expected to happen in March of 2006.

Dr. Charles Helm the new president of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation, said, ?We are delighted in the confidence shown in this project by Western Economic Diversification and Community Futures, and look forward eagerly to realizing its potential. We are privileged to have, in Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley, two outstanding palaeontologists who have decided to call Tumbler Ridge home. Their expertise will be invaluable in developing this facility, which will be a crucial step in the diversification of the regional economy into sustainable, scientifically accurate ecotourism.?