The development of extensive evolutionary botanical gardens, as well as the planned expansion of the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum, has found a site to call home, due to a donation of land by Marc Bingham to the College of Eastern Utah. The site sits near the Carbon County Fairgrounds on a cliff providing scenic overlooks of the Book Cliffs, the San Rafael Swell and Price.
Since it was founded in 1961, the museum has grown so that it has outgrown its current site in downtown Price. The proposed expansion site not only provides the space for the creation of a the botanical gardens, but also provides high visibility from U.S. Highway 6. The first stage of development planned for this site is the Mesozoic Gardens, a half-acre botanical conservatory complete with living plants that have a direct link to the Age of Dinosaurs. The conservatory of plants will be housed within a glass pyramid design including associated research laboratories.
CEU and the museum hope to use the new facilities as an educational tool attracting students for hands-on botanical, paleo-botanical, paleontological and ecological experiences. Containing more than 600 living plant and animal species having a direct lineage to the fossil record of western North America, the Gardens will provide a place for international research in fields ranging from conservation genetics to paleoclimatic research.
The plants for the botanical garden have been largely supported by various local officials, public agencies and community members.
Proponents hope the project will help link multiple components of growth in southeastern Utah tourism and economic development. Tourists will experience a living dinosaur-age environment side-by-side with the specimens themselves.