Two lightning-ignited fires roared through forests of pinon pine, Utah juniper and Gambel oak in Mesa Verde National Park, scorching 21,061 acres in the park and another 7,786 acres nearby.
American West Archaeology & Paleontology
The purchase preserves permanent public access via County Road 42 to Petroglyph Hill, an important archaeological site on an adjacent 780-acre parcel purchased last year.
Instead of human activity killing off megafauna, Grayson points to climate shifts during the late Pleistocene epoch, which ended about 10,000 years ago, and subsequent changes in weather and plants as the likely culprits.
The 164,000-acre monument contains the highest known density of archaeological sites anywhere in the U.S, according to the BLM.
Tucked away in remote Tsegi Canyon, the monument surrounds a small desert oasis, a place abundant in plant life, with mountain mahogany, Gambel oak, serviceberry, rice grass and Douglas fir scattered across the canyon.
The fossil nests, dating to about 220 million years ago, are similar to modern-day crocodile and turtle nests.
Columbian mammoths ranged over much of what is now the southern United States and Mexico up until the end of the last Ice Age, when they became extinct.