Snowmass council approves discovery plan
SNOWMASS VILLAGE – When a mastodon bone was pulled from the earth during the construction of the Ziegler Reservoir in the fall of 2010, Snowmass Village officials knew they had a significant discovery on their hands.On Monday, nearly one year after the find, the Snowmass Town Council unanimously approved a concept plan from the Ice Age Discovery Committee on how to best use the discovery through exhibits and an interpretive building.The committee, or “Tusk Force,” successfully persuaded the council to provide it $2,000 in order to file for nonprofit status. The Town Council will give the soon-to-be nonprofit $41,000 so it can continue to operate the exhibit center in the Snowmass Village Mall for the upcoming year.”This is the largest fossil dig to date,” said Russell Forrest, Snowmass Village town manager. “This is the most significant discovery in the state of Colorado. It’s not just a discovery of animals and bones, but the site itself is [a discovery] of the Rocky Mountains, the Village and climate change as a whole.”He added: “No one has seen as intensive a dig as this one. Every day, there was something new and exciting. More than 4,800 bones were unearthed, and about 100 to 200 bones per day.”The town manager explained that in the ensuing weeks after last fall’s discovery, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science reached an agreement with the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District to begin excavation of the site to see what else lurked below the silt.”It occurred quite quickly,” Forrest said. “There is a story with a lot of learning and discovery left to be unraveled here. But we have to be patient as it unfolds.”Earlier this year, the Tusk Force was created to develop a business plan for the discovery and to find the best possible reach for marketing the find as well as Snowmass Village.”One of the things we always hear is, ‘Why don’t we have the bones?'” Forrest said. “What we learned is that it takes a lot of care, a lot of treatment so the bones are dried carefully.”One of the plans includes obtaining at least one full piece for an exhibit in Snowmass Village.The heart of the plans for the discovery rests with programing for educational and scientific purposes, and providing exhibits and informational areas and interactive sites around Snowmass that interpret the Ice Age dig.The plan also is likely to garner new and return visitors to the area year-round while branding the idea of adventure and discovery found in Snowmass Village.”This is opening a lot of doors for new partnerships for us,” Forrest said. Colorado Mountain College already offers free classes for people who want to learn more about the dig.”We’re looking at nonprofit status so we can do science here,” said Rhonda Bazil with the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District.CCasillas@snowmasssun.com
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