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The Penn-Dixie quarry in Hamburg is an isolated, land-locked site surrounded by residential and industrial areas. In contains abundant fossils estimated to be 370 million years old. As one of the best, if not the best reference sections of Devonian shale for geologists, the quarry has been visited by scientists from the Soviet Union, Europe and Australia.

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington strongly endorses efforts to preserve this site. Also, geologists from colleges and universities in Western New York stand together in support of the Penn-Dixie quarry's being preserved for research and educational purposes. Many layers in the pit remain unstudied, and geologists will need access for many more years.

Unfortunately, many other fossil sites have been lost to development. Although the Penn-Dixie is privately owned, Hamburg officials -- Supervisor Jack Quinn and Councilman Mark Cavicoli -- are working to retain this site as a geological sanctuary and nature preserve. County Executive Gorski and Commissioner Richard Tobe of the Department of Environment and Planning have suggested many ways to protect this unique natural resource. Strong support also comes from Senator William Stachowski, Congressman William Paxon, Assemblyman Francis Pordum and Legislator Joseph Desmond.

The surveyed site consists of approximately 48 to 50 acres. The question is -- will our Hamburg officials settle for less acreage in light of the development of the nearby industrial park? Since a fossil bed doesn't generate revenue, we wonder who will sell the quarry short.

We urge our Hamburg officials to retain the entire site as outlined by geological maps. As quoted by a notable area geologist: "A society that does not preserve its heritage is a society without roots; a community that wastes its intellectual resources is a community that embraces ignorance."

Natural resources and unique environments are being lost worldwide at an alarming rate. Let's not include Hamburg in this list of lost opportunities. The bottom line is -- what will we leave our children and grandchildren?


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