We were astonished to learn a Binghamton University research team sifted through fossil soils at a quarry behind the Cairo Highway Department and discovered the root system of trees thought to date back to the Devonian Age.

The forest is believed to predate a fossilized forest in neighboring Gilboa, formerly the world’s oldest forest, by 2 million to 3 million years. The news stood the scientific community on its ear and revealed a paleontological treasure 385 million years old.

It’s especially the fragility of this prehistoric ecosystem that requires us to show some humility before the power of nature. For this reason, Cairo officials should take the utmost care in planning the future of the forest.

Councilman Jason Watts discussed Monday having the two-acre property appraised. A scientific find of this magnitude could fetch a pretty penny, but it’s possible no appraiser could fix a price on what is the most unique field in the world.

We’re more in agreement with Cairo Town Supervisor John Coyne, who said he isn’t interested in selling the property, but is looking to secure the site as an educational, scientific and environmental resource.

“I am in contact with colleges and other not-for-profits to work with us to get funding to protect the location first,” Coyne said Monday.

We think Watts is right when he said it should go to a college or university with research staffs that could study it.

Watts nailed it when he said: “There’s only one in the world.”

This is absolutely correct. It’s a one-of-a-kind paleontological phenomenon that requires long-term care and protection. So please, Cairo Town Board, place this valuable find in the hands of scientists who know how to protect and preserve fossils. Let them study it. Let them discover secrets hidden for millions of years. We may be holding the key to the past in that two-acre field in Cairo. Let’s guard it and show humility before nature.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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