"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


From VOCM this morning. No, this isn't a story about the PC party keeping incumbents safe from nomination challenges:
Government to Protect Fossils

The province's Tourism Minister says government is working on legislation that will protect the province's fossils. Newfoundland and Labrador has a number of world-famous fossil beds, including Mistaken Point and the Manuels' River that need to be preserved from fossil hunters. Terry French says creating the regulations to protect these valuable resources is a government priority. He says they've been working on the legislation for quite some time, as fossils shouldn't be taken from the province.
It's most interesting to learn tht Terry French has been working on this legislation for some time... especially considering that just such legislation has been on the books for almost a decade:
Kevin Aylward, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, announced two amendments to the Historic Resources Act.

"I know how vitally important our heritage, both cultural and natural, is to Newfoundland and Labrador and its people," said Minister Aylward. "It helps define who we are. I am extremely pleased to announce that this legislation will add to government's role in preserving and protecting that heritage by clarifying and expanding the role of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and protecting the province's fossil resources."


The amendments to protect the province's fossil resources are a result of public consultations conducted by the Committee on the Use of Outdoor Resources in July 1999. The Office of the Legislative Council in consultation with the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation have outlined amendments to the Historic Resources Act necessary to make it illegal to remove fossils found at sites within the province.

"The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to preserving the natural heritage of the province. Fossils are an important part of this heritage," stated Minister Aylward. "Fossils belong to all of us and we all should benefit from them, be it for educational or commercial purposes. These amendments will in no way hamper legitimate mineral and oil exploration, nor legitimate mining and quarrying activities. Government has no intention of criminalizing the possession of fossils, but is committed to preventing their sale or their export by individuals or corporations for private commercial gain."
Bill 57 of 2001, which received Royal Assent in December of that year, and came into force in February 2003, effected those announced changes to the Historic Resources Act.

With these amendments, the culture minister was given the positive duty to protect palaeontological resources in the province (s. 4), and the power to deputize officials to implement and enforce the provisions of the Act (s. 33.1)

The provincial cabinet gained the powers to give the protected status of "provincial cultural property" to palaeontological resources (s. 14); to declare a site to be a "significant palaeontological site" (s. 16.1); and to regulate palaeontological excavations, the exploitation, preservation, and handling of palaeontological resources, and the designation of palaeontological sites as "protected" or "significant" (s. 33).

In keeping with the provincial government's reputation for foot-dragging and lollygagging, none of these powers in respect of fossil resources have yet been exercised. The only recent development in the protection of these resources was the enlargement of the Mistaken Point protected area — under the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act.

Unless there are fossils in some of the sedimentary layers underlying any of the expropriated AbitibiBowater properties, the provincial government has done little else in the past decade to protect sensitive palaeontological sites, and nothing at all using the powers which have been sitting in the statute books, unused, all that time.


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