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The Town of Hamburg has begun steps to ensure that a quarry, considered an important fossil site, is preserved.

The site, known as the Penn-Dixie Quarry, has been used for decades by high school and college teachers as an outdoor classroom.

Three women living in the vicinity of the quarry, near Big Tree and Bay View roads, have launched a campaign to have the site, covering about 50 acres, preserved.

"It's something we feel is important and should be preserved," said Eileen Eich. She, Elizabeth Gonsiorek and Sheila Kelly have written to a number of local, state and federal officials expressing their fears that the site might be lost to development.

By coincidence, said Town Councilman D. Mark Cavalcoli, the town has been looking into the same matter for several months. Preliminary discussions have been held with three owners of property in or near the site and so far indications are favorable that some sort of arrangement might be worked out so that the area is protected, he said.

Supervisor Jack Quinn Jr. agreed that the town is interested in preserving the quarry and said the effort is part of its overall review of land uses in the Ravenwood North Industrial Park area.

Jerold Bastedo, an environmental geologist from Hamburg, said the quarry has one of the best fossil collections in the area and should be preserved.

The fossils date from 350 million years ago when the area was under water. "It was located about 30 degrees south of the equator at that time when the whole area was covered with water and the peaks of the Adirondack Mountains were probably the closest land area," Bastedo said.

"I've been taking groups there for 20 years and it's certainly worth preserving," he added.

According to Carlton E. Brett, associate professor of geological sciences at the University of Rochester, the quarry is "one of the five or six most important geological sites on the Niagara Frontier. Its loss would mean a considerable setback in terms of study of Devonian (period) geology in eastern North America."

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