The future of the McAbee fossil site near Cache Creek is more secure than ever, with the Province announcing today that it will formally recognize the area as a Heritage Site.
The McAbee beds are known worldwide for their incredible abundance, diversity and quality of fossils. The fossil beds are unique for their exceptionally preserved fossils from the Eocene epoch (56 to 34 million years ago). Many fossils being discovered there are entirely new to science.
Today's decision will provide a much stronger protection and management regime of this important resource, situated on what was once the shore of an ancient lake. That ideal environment has left behind a fossil record that includes a variety of leaves, twigs, cones, nuts, flowers, pollen and spores, as well as insects, fish, crayfish and even a bird and feathers.
Formal notifications are going out to local government, stakeholders and First Nations within whose traditional territory the land to be designated lies. Formal notification is required under the Heritage Conservation Act, before the site can be legally designated. Feedback from the notification process will also help inform future management plans for the site.
Thomson also released the 2009 geological and paleontological survey report of the area to the public, which identifies the fossil beds' extent and provides a wealth of technical information of interest to amateur and professional palaeontologists alike.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations -
"Fossils play an important role in understanding B.C.'s resources and natural heritage. The McAbee site is a rich and diverse fossil deposit, providing an incredible window into prehistoric life. I am proud to start the formal process that will lead to designating McAbee as a Heritage Site."
Dr. Richard Hebda, curator of botany and earth history, Royal BC Museum -
"B.C.'s McAbee fossil beds contain diverse and exquisitely preserved plant and animal fossils that are changing our understanding of life in the Eocene epoch."
"The designation of the beds as a Provincial Heritage site will ensure that the world will learn more from these remarkable fossils for decades to come as British Columbians assume their vital stewardship role of this globally exceptional natural heritage."
Tom Cockburn, president, British Columbia Paleontological Alliance -
"The British Columbia Paleontological Alliance supports the conclusions of the Read and Hebda survey report and supports the Province's initiative for heritage designation over the Eocene epoch McAbee fossil beds near Cache Creek."
"This heritage designation recognizes the scientific, educational and natural heritage value of these sites to the public."
About the McAbee site -
- The fossil beds are 13 kilometres east of Cache Creek.
- The proposed heritage site will include the known extent of the beds and will also capture key ecological features.
- In October 2008, a voluntary Memorandum of Understanding was negotiated to accommodate scientific interests in the fossils while allowing ongoing commercial activities. The agreement has not proved sufficient for resolving long-term protection of the fossils at the site.
About fossil protection in B.C. -
- Fossils in B.C. are protected through the Fossil Management Framework, which outlines the policy, procedures and guidelines for fossil collection, use and reporting.
- The framework sets out how existing legislative tools can be used to protect fossil sites, including the option for Heritage designation announced today.
To learn more about the McAbee site, visit:
To view the geological and paleontological survey report, visit:
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations