A dinosaur fossil trail stretching from southern Alberta through to northern British Columbia is now one step closer to becoming a reality.
The County of Grande Prairie agreed on Friday to donate an additional $5 million a new museum designed to showcase the fossils recovered from the nearby Pipestone Creek site, where a duck-billed dinosaur bone bed lies.
Brian Brake, the executive director of the Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative, says the museum will serve as a vital link in the chain of known dinosaur-heavy deposits spanning from Milk River, Alta. through to Tumbler Ridge, B.C.
Other notable sites along this route include the famous fossil beds at the Alberta Dinosaur Park and Royal Tyrell Museum —each of which sees about 400,000 visitors every year.
Brake thinks that the new museum in Grande Prairie will prove to be equally popular.
"The resources in this area are amongst the best in the world," said Brake. "The densest horned dinosaur bone bed in the world is right here in the Grand Prairie region and this is only one of many finds that has occurred here in the last few years"
Plans for the $35 million project — which will be named in honour of renowned paleontologist Philip J. Currie — have been underway since 2002.
But it wasn’t until 2009 that plans for the project became a reality, says Brian Brake, the executive director of the Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative.
According to Brake, $26 million was required before construction could begin on the museum.
With $13 million raised locally and an additional $10 million coming from the province, this additional donation from the county was all that was needed to make the long held dream a reality for Brake.
"For a project that’s been going on for 11 years — today was the day that everything really got started," he said Friday.
But Brake’s not stopping there. He says he now hopes to raise another $7 million through corporate and community sponsorships and will be pursuing municipal donations once construction has begun on the museum on May 26, 2012.
Brake says the museum should be up and running by Fall 2014.