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Saving the Florissant Fossil Beds

The Florissant fossil beds are to geology, paleontology, palynology, and evolution what the Rosetta Stone was to Egyptology. To sacrifice this 34 million years old record, a record you might say written by the mighty hand of God, for 30 year mortgages and the basements of the A-frame ghettos of the seventies is like wrapping fish with the Dead Seas Scrolls.


…if someone had found the original Constitution of the United States buried on his land and then wanted to use it to mop a stain on the floor, is there any doubt…they could be restrained?


40 years later at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument


Where it all began. The Yannacones examine the fossils

The Yannacones at Florissant 1969


The trust doctrine returns to American law

The Florissant fossil beds litigation was the first successful effort in modern times to use the natural law concept of the public trust which characterized the Roman Law since the time of Cicero and was embodied in the natural law tradition that gave rise to the English Law of Equity during the reign of Henry II and his Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket.

The following account is from Chapter 2 In Volume 1 of Yannacone’s two-volume treatise, Environmental Rights & Remedies

Florissant_ER&R_2:09_The Trust Doctrine

The Florissant Fossil Beds litigation


The annotated Florissant complaint

Florissant_ER&R_2:12_Annotated Complaint


Affidavit of palynologist Estelle Leopold

Florissant_ER&R_2-13_Estelle Leopold


The Order saving the Florissant fossils from the bulldozer

Florissant_ER&R_2-14 Order saving the fossils


Reporting the hearing

Florissant 19690711_Rocky Mountain News