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Cairo's world-oldest fossil forest gets grant for a fence

Jul 13, 2022 2:01 pm

Andrea Macko reports for Porcupine Soup that the non-profit organization Friends of the Cairo Fossil Forest is getting a $170,000 state grant to install fencing around the world’s oldest fossil forest. In 2009 a group of land surveyors discovered the historic site off State Route 145 at an abandoned sandstone quarry. Ever since, the curious have trekked to the location, and officials want to protect the land with a barrier. “One of the hesitations I have had to try to push it out too much and get support is all the scientists have told me until you have it fenced in you don’t really want people going there,” said Joseph Hasenkopf, the chair of Cairo's Planning Board. “Talking to the different scientists, the type of fencing we are going with is going to have Jersey barriers around the entire thing.... Then the fence would be attached to that, so we are not drilling into the ground or potentially causing some additional erosion or destruction to the forest itself.... Hopefully that will get done before the snow flies, but it all depends on when the town actually gets the money,” Hasenkopf said. In 2019 a research team led by faculty at Binghamton University and Cardiff University in England Cairo’s identified Cairo's fossil forest as the world’s oldest. “The Devonian Period represents a time in which the first forest appeared on planet Earth,” says William Stein, emeritus professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University. “So many dramatic changes occurred at that time as a result of those original forests that, basically, the world has never been the same since.” Previously, a fossil forest in Gilboa had been deemed the planet's oldest. Read more about this story at Porcupine Soup.