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Cairo officials take steps to protect fossil forest

Feb 05, 2021 3:15 pm

Andrea Macko is reporting for Porcupine Soup the Cairo Town Board Wed, Feb. 3, approved two resolutions intended to protect the prehistoric forest located behind the town highway garage. The fossil forest dates back 387 million years and according to experts, it is the oldest in the world. The first resolution approved by the board gave the town authority to move forward with a feasibility study to pursue grants for the conservancy of the forest. The second measure gives the go-ahead for the town to establish a non-profit organization charged with preserving and protecting the site. Town Supervisor John Coyne pointed out there are more funding options available to not-for-profit organizations than municipalities. Meetings were recently held that included representatives from the town of Cairo, the New York State Museum and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties. The extensive root system of 387-million-year-old trees were discovered by researchers in 2019 as they sifted through fossil soils in a quarry behind the Cairo Highway Department. The team, led by scientists at Binghamton University, the New York State Museum and Cardiff University, has mapped more than 3,000 square meters of the forest. Their investigations showed the extensive network of trees would have spread from New York all the way into Pennsylvania and beyond. Researchers also theorize the forest was eventually wiped out by a flood due to the presence of fish fossils that were also visible on the surface of the quarry. Read more in Porcupine Soup.