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Ancient Cairo forest fossils at risk

Aug 06, 2021 12:11 pm

Roger Hannigan Gilson reports in the Times Union that the world's oldest fossilized forest is in Cairo, in Greene County, where all-terrain vehicles occasionally trample the historic site. A town board member running for supervisor has talked for months about selling the land, but other local officials want to develop it into a tourist destination. But Cairo has little resources for such a project, and so far has just dragged a few boulders around the site to help protect the ancient fossils of plants 140 million years older than dinosaurs from the off-road vehicles. Cairo resident Joe Hasenkopf chairs of a town committee formed to study the question of how to preserve the site. “Essentially what we want to do is build an education center … a building over the entire site, with glass running over the top of [the fossils] so you can walk over the site without walking on it,” he said. Town board member Jason Watts has been saying repeatedly he wants Cairo to sell the site -- he claimed for up to $1 billion -- but now says since “there’s nothing to appraise it against,” because the location is globally unique, and therefore priceless, that the town cannot sell it. But so far, Cairo has done little to protect the site, and the priceless location could soon be lost. Read more about this story in the Times Union.