Golden Starts Work on “Dinosaur” Golf Project

In August 2001, a ground-breaking ceremony took place on a Jim Engh-designed golf course being developed by the city of Golden. The $7-million project has generated considerable national attention because the 200-acre site contains 65-million-year-old dinosaur fossils. The golf course is being built atop an old Parfet Clay Pits mine that houses giant triceratops footprints and undamaged fossils of ancient palm fronds. Most recently, the property was used as a landfill where fly ash was dumped by Coors Brewery and the local power company. The project includes cleaning up the site and preserving the ancient remains.

Despite the excitement generated among Golden’s golfers for the project, it has raised a hue and cry among dinosaur lovers, who’ve said the city’s plan allows only golfers to see the fossils. Since the protests began, dinosaur leaders and academicians have asked the city to devote a 3- or 4-acre corner of the property to a dinosaur park. For the present time, the city plans to incorporate three fossil sites into the golf course and is weighing other requests.

Aside from the triceratops, a three-horned herbivore that grew as tall as 30 feet, scientists have found tracks of what they believe were crocodile-like champosaurs, duck-billed hadrosaurs and carnivorous therapods, other giant reptiles that shared Colorado with triceratops during the Cretaceous Era 65 million years ago.

The fossils and footprints are considered important by many paleontologists, who say Colorado’s Dinosaur Ridge and Golden’s Parfet pits hold some of the largest concentrations of tracks anywhere in the U.S. “These are very rare,” William T. Caneer, a retired geologist who has spent recent years lecturing to local school children at the nearby Dinosaur Ridge. “This is the best place in the world to see them.”

Yet city officials are moving ahead with Golden’s municipal golf course, which will assuredly bear a name that represents the site’s unique contents. “I think we’re doing a very good job, doing what should be done,” Golden City Manager Mike Bestor told the Baltimore Sun. “I think most of the flak over this one is people don’t want to understand or give us credit that we’re doing it right.” The golf course should be ready for play sometime in 2003.