The National Park Service just announced that Petrified Forest National Park will expand by almost 26,000 acres. While the newly acquired lands, which the Conservation Fund bought two years ago, are just now being thoroughly examined, a first look shows that the new property is rife with sites of interest.
The park, which is perched along the majestic Painted Desert, was established as a national monument in 1906 to preserve its rare mineralized tree sections. While the hunk of multicolored Arizona badlands was originally set aside to protect fossilized trees, its preserved animal specimens and Native American ruins make it a hotbed of paleontological and anthropological interest. Its living residents are pretty neat too.
The expansion comes at a crucial time for the park. Despite opposition from the Sierra Club’s Arizona chapter, Arizona's senate passed a bill that allows companies to mine potash, a salt used in fertilizers, right next to the national park. While the partnership between the NPS and the Conservation Fund shows that protection efforts for the park are still going strong, studies reveal that Petrified Forest sits atop an uber-load of potash valued at $1.1 trillion.