NEWSLETTER #3, september 2006
Press Release
For Immediate Release

Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation
Box 1348 Tumbler Ridge, BC V0C 2W0
Contact: Dr Charles Helm, Vice President – 250 242 3984

September 7, 2006

The 2006 field season has been arguably our most successful ever. As it draws to a close, here is a brief summary of our activities.

First, a reminder that your board of directors comprises Patsy Antle (Treasurer), Amanda Battenfelder, Mark Deeley, Christine Goodwin, Wade Harvey, Charles Helm (President), Gail Neumann (Secretary). Dave Price (Vice President), Gloria Price, Jerrilyn Schembri, Charmaine Shirley and Charissa Tonnesen. Rose Colledge is our Council liaison.

Our employees include our curator Rich McCrea, palaentologist Lisa Buckley, Glenna Mackenzie on Archives and Tammy Pigeon as Technical Assistant. In addition we enjoyed the help of Max Allen, Jen Becker and Robyn Sissons as summer students.

We are moving ahead steadily on many fronts - here is a brief synopsis:

Feasibility Study: Steve Nicol of Lions Gate Consulting is doing our Feasibility Study. We hope to have this ready by October 2006, and to use it to apply to the Northern Development Trust for further funding.

Cretaceous Dinosaurs: We were at work at the Quality Creek dinosaur bonebed site for the third year, and have removed additional bones from this site. New dinosaur bone and tooth discoveries were made at our other dinosaur sites as well. Following up on a report of a footprint find by Veritas, two new dinosaur trackway sites were found close to town, and they are currently being assessed for their suitability for tourist visits. Most importantly, our palaeontologists were able to spend over three weeks at the magnificent and vertical Kakwa mega-trackway site, and bring back crucial material (there will be a first presentation to the public about this site and its significance, in the Library).

Triassic Fishes and Marine Reptiles: Five collecting days plus three helicopter retrieval trips (supported by Veritas) were accomplished, yielding a wealth of exciting new material which has been incorporated into our collections, and some of which will be exhibited. An expert from Royal Tyrrell Museum visited us, was most impressed by the collections, and has borrowed some of the specimens for further research.

Palaeozoic fossils: A donation extended our collection material back into the Ordovician period, and a day’s collecting at our known trilobite site produced much new trilobite, brachiopod, crinoid and other marine invertebrate material, all ideal for display purposes.

Dinosaur Discovery Gallery: Renovations are almost complete, and work will now begin on assembling and housing the exhibits. We anticipate a Grand Opening of the Gallery before the end of 2006. Murals painted on the front and side wall are nearing completion, the berm alongside the mural will be lowered, and our palaeoconservators (Nellie Meredith and Delores Norman) are planning how to beautify the area both inside and outside of the Gallery.

Dinosaur Footprint Tours: We conducted these for the third successive year. The tours were well supported with an increase in school groups noted.

Dinosaur Camp: This camp is in its fourth consecutive year, and this year we put it on without the leadership of the Northern Lights College. For the first time we took the camp out of town, and held a successful camp in Hudson’s Hope for a week. Campers continue to have very positive experiences. Both these camps and the footprint tours will benefit greatly in future from the opening of the Discovery Gallery.

Northern Wilderness Camp: We conducted the pilot project this year focusing on the forest ecology theme, and are developing to include wetlands, alpine and aquatic ecology themes. We are also looking to offer year-round educational programs including Winter Camps.

Archives: Our archiving program is now underway, and we hope to have a fully developed Tumbler Ridge Archives by the end of 2006.

Community Centre exhibits: The creation of the Leake Monkman exhibit was our major summer project. We continue to escort visiting groups and historians through these exhibits. We hope to have roadside signage in town soon directing visitors to the Gallery and the Community Centre exhibits.

Monkman Pass Memorial Trail: Work on this project is ahead of schedule and this made it possible to formally open the Driving Tour section on Sept 1. A crew of five has been busy with the hiking trail. We hope that by the end of 2007 the whole Memorial Trail will be open.

Dignitaries and the media: We have enjoyed escorting visiting dignitaries such as the Minister of Tourism, Olga Illich, to our sites, have distributed press releases to the regional media on roughly a weekly basis, and have had many radio interviews, including one with CBC by satellite phone from the Kakwa site, one by California’s SETI radio station (US National Broadcast through Discovery Network) and one with BBC World Service. Articles in The Beaver Magazine and Discover Magazine highlighted our work. Maintaining this high profile for our projects translates into a positive high profile for Tumbler Ridge and an advertising value that must run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In addition to all this, our scientists continue to do active research, our other employees help in numerous ways, and our volunteers provide the backbone of our passion and activities. We have attended workshops on successfully securing funding, and are planning a busy winter lecture series. We are in the early stages of two books, one on the Tumbler Ridge fossil material, field sites, and Discovery Gallery, and the other on the Monkman Pass Memorial Trail.

Some members have recently asked how they can get more involved. It is as simple as an email or phone call (242 3984) to me, or a letter if you would like something addressed at a board meeting or wish to present an item via a delegation. Our board meetings are held the last Thursday of every month. There are numerous areas in which volunteers can get involved in now, in particular with the development of the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery. One thing we have not been able to achieve as well as we have wanted has been a list of membership benefits, and this is why we extended all memberships by a year without extra cost. This too will change as the Discovery Gallery is developed, and more souvenir items are available. In the meantime please contact me if you have any concerns or comments. We move now into a critical phase as our feasibility study gets done, and this will be pivotal in securing future funding support. Thanks you to all of you who have shared in our grand vision, and helped make our amazing progress to date possible.

Sincerely,

Charles Helm

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