A bright spot in California’s energy crisis

by Pat Holroyd
The California energy crunch is having a significant impact on everyday lives and the California economy. For UCMP, however, there is one bright spot coming out of the current crisis. Because much of Northern California’s paleontologic history occurs deep below the surface, much of what we now know about the paleontologic record of our area has resulted from discoveries made during construction of highways, homes, pipelines, and landfills. Now contractors and governmental agencies are looking at potential sites for new power plants. UCMP plays an important role in this process by maintaining highly detailed locality records and databases that permit this information to be easily accessed by contractors prior to decisions on construction sites and then later as a repository for the fossils that may subsequently be found during construction. From the building of the local Caldecott Tunnel to the excavation of the

Berkeley BART station and the Nuclear Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore Labs, the field of paleontology has benefited through the discovery and salvaging of important specimens that would otherwise be unknown to science. The cooperation of the California State Energy Commission, other state and federal agencies, and private industry make these discoveries possible. With luck, as California works to solve its energy crisis, new fossils will be exposed and a new chapter will be written in the history of California’s biota.

Note: We will explore some of these “construction discoveries” in more detail in the next issue of UCMP News!

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May, 2001