Oregon Paleo Project

A number of organizations, local officials, and state and federal agencies worked together to explore opportunities with the significant fossil beds near Fossil. The specific projects associated with this effort included:

  • Conversion of Fossil High School into a paleontological visitor’s center
  • Educational programming around sustainable ranching and stream restoration on the Pine Creek Ranch – lands acquired by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
  • Development of an $8.3 million National Park Service interpretive center near John Day

These projects developed a market for educational tourism in the area, created jobs, and reinforced community partnerships.

The Paleo Project was the first project in Oregon to be designated by former Governor John Kitzhaber as a highest priority state sustainability project under Oregon Solutions. It won the prestigious Governor’s Sustainability Award in 2001. It has won acclaim in local, regional, state and national media through articles that have been circulated far and wide by national news wire services. The Paleo Project played a strong role in the designation of Fossil as a 2003 All America City Finalist in a national competition.


  • Nearly $2 million invested in local projects that are based on the Paleo Project. These include a summer program, a three-year community-school education program, architectural planning for a paleo-based facility and infrastructure improvements to the city of Fossil.
  • The new 1,400-square foot home of the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute, designed as a hub for hands-on natural history education, exploration, and ecotourism in Oregon’s John Day Fossil Beds region opened in July 2009.

Additional Resources