WASHINGTON – A rare ecosystem in Pennsylvania, the sixth longest cave in
Texas, and major fossil sites in Kentucky, New York, and Vermont were
recently named National Natural Landmarks.
The National Natural Landmarks Program, administered by the National Park
Service, recognizes significant examples of natural history and supports
property owners and managers in conservation efforts. There are now 586
“Nottingham Park Serpentine Barrens, Cave Without a Name, Big Bone Lick,
and Chazy Fossil Reef are the newest additions to the National Natural
Landmarks Program,” announced acting National Park Service Director Dan
Wenk. “Each of these sites has been identified, evaluated, and designated
through a scientific process that formally acknowledges their outstanding
biological or geological features.”
The Nottingham Park Serpentine Barrens in Chester County, Pennsylvania
support unique vegetation communities that contain many rare and endemic
species, including one of the northernmost occurrences of fame flower. The
site also has one of the state’s largest stands of pitch pine forest.
Cave Without a Name in Kendall County, Texas contains exceptional cave
formations, a rare and threatened salamander, and significant
Big Bone Lick in Boone County, Kentucky is unique for its combination of
salt springs and associated Late Pleistocene bone beds. The site has been
referred to as the birthplace of vertebrate paleontology in North America.
The Big Bone fossils played a very important role in the development of
scientific thought regarding the idea of extinction and the relationship of
geology and paleontology.
The Chazy Fossil Reef in Grand Isle County, Vermont and Clinton County, New
York contains surface exposures of an Ordovician fossil reef. The reef
recounts the tropical, marine environment that existed approximately 450
million years ago on the continental shelf of North America. This
paleontological treasure represents the oldest known occurrence of a
biologically diverse fossil reef in the world, the earliest appearance of
fossil coral in a reef environment, and the first documented example of the
ecological principle of faunal succession.
Since 1962, the National Natural Landmarks Program has supported the
cooperative conservation of important natural areas on private, state,
municipal, and Federal land. The decision to participate in the program is
completely voluntary and inclusion in the program does not dictate activity
or change the ownership of an area.
A complete list of National Natural Landmarks and additional information
about the program can be found at www.nature.nps.gov/nnl/