The McAbee Fossil Beds 13 km east of Cache Creek are closed to all but government-approved tours until a Conservation Management Plan is finished, hopefully by next Spring.
Last week, the fossil beds were formally designated as a Heritage Site by Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson.
In March, the provincial government issued a Temporary Protection Order on the site to cease access and operations at the site while its designation as a heritage site was being completed.
Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger was the Minister of State for Mining when he started the ball rolling for the Heritage Site designation. He said that seeing the area designated a Heritage Site was one of the highlights of his career.
Thompson Rivers University Dean of Science, Dr. Tom Dickinson noted how “history jumps out of the ground here,” raising intense feelings in his students and making them more dedicated.
“My dream is to work as part of the management plan and create a component for the public,” he said.
The McAbee beds are known both for the number of quality fossils present, as well as their diversity. The fossil beds represent a paleontological gold mine of exceptionally preserved fossils from the Eocene epoch (56 to 34 million years ago). Many fossils being discovered there are entirely new to science.
Now appearing as a stark and wind-worn cliff face, McAbee was once the shore of an ancient lake. This lakeshore provided an ideal environment for creating a fossil record that includes a wide variety of plant life, as well as insects, fish, crayfish and even a bird and feathers.
The Heritage Site designation confers enduring protection for the site, which will be managed to provide research, educational and recreational opportunities.