Madera County, in partnership with the San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation, completed a unique and exciting Fossil Discovery Center. The project is located at the Fairmead landfill in Madera County, the site of one of the largest middle-Pleistocene fossil excavations in North America. These fossils are of particular significance for California and the western United States because there are few sites known from this time period, especially with so many species present. The facility interprets both the paleontology activity and the landfill activity. These diverse themes are united by showing how the world of the past became the world of the present, and how our current activities, including waste disposal, will create the world of the future.
The discovery center is next to the landfill and also serves as a satellite visitors center for the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau. The site overlooks the current landfill operations and the paleontology dig. It also has a good view of the valley floor and the rising foothills to the east, the area where the prehistoric rivers washed down the bones that have become the Fairmead fossils.
This facility attracts visitors from throughout the State, as well as national/international travelers to nearby Yosemite National Park. However the target audience is children and families in the Central San Joaquin Valley. School field trips, curriculum programs for teachers and other educational opportunities have been developed to serve the target populations. The Fossil Discovery Center represents an opportunity for Valley residents to share an internationally important historical resource that will help them understand their world and will inspire many of them to continue exploring and learning.