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Utah Dino Dig Still Boned

The switchback queue line of time is long. That may mean little to a dinosaur bone, but it means a lot to us. Yet we may become fossils ourselves before the Visitor Center at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah is reopened to the public.

The Center, famous for enclosing a cliff face of dinosaur bones on which paleontologists could often be seen at work, was abruptly closed in 2006. The government says that the structure is unstable, and poses a menace to humans and bones alike. “Floors are heaving, door frames have moved, and structural steel supports over the fossils have separated from support columns,” according to a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune. But the bones have withstood planet-shaping forces since before the dawn of time — how much of a threat could there be even if the building fell on top of them?

As for the building: the article says that the National Parks Service is just now getting around to figuring out when the money will be available to start fixing it — which reportedly won’t be until 2011. When will the repairs actually begin? When will the Center reopen? Those far-off years aren’t even on the radar.

Does Jerry Chubbuck shut down his Wonder Tower because its stairs are a little rickety? Heck no. Does the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary ban visitors just because it’s crumbling? Nah — it makes them sign a waiver and then lets ’em in.

Face it, National Parks Service — at some point the ruins of the Visitor Center become historical and as interesting to future civilizations as the scraps of the extinct creatures contained within. All it needs is a couple of paleontologist and park ranger skeletons tossed in for context….

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