The Mazon Creek Project is a program sponsored by Northeastern Illinois University to facilitate communication between paleontologists, amateur collectors and others. Its primary goal is to support the study and understanding of this extraordinary locale, especially the remarkable fossil assemblage found in the mine spoil heaps from Peabody Coal Companies former Pit 11 (now the Mazonia-Braidwood Conservation Area administered by the Illinois Department of Conservation). It is our intent to keep the Mazonia-Braidwood Conservation Area open for collecting by scientists, school children, scout groups, visitors from other states and others.
The Mazonia Area was an excellent collecting area but it has become greatly overgrown. Our goal is to have some areas of small acreage ‘disc harrowed’ to dislodge the vegetation and expose concretions to the view of collecting groups. The Project stressed years ago that the site is not pristine land. The fossils are found in sands and shales that have been exposed by strip mining and turned over and subsequently leveled.
Strip mining of this state owned land has opened up a ‘Window to the Past’ but, as with the plot of any good sci-fi movie, this ‘time portal’ comes with an expiration date. We have but 20 years at best to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity for school children and the scientific community before the inevitable deterioration of the ironstone fossil-bearing concretions. Allowing these concretions to remain for future generations is a futile gesture. Certainly from a scientific perspective the value of this area to science far outweighs the necessity of whatever other endeavors are planned for this site.
We recommend that groups and interested citizens contact Senators and Representatives of the Illinois legislature to make them aware of the uniqueness of this world-class site; of its importance in the education of our children, and its great scientific value.