Tague Presents Assembly Resolution Recognizing Prehistoric Forest in Cairo as Oldest Fossil Forest on Earth

September 2, 2020

Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I,Ref-Schoharie) presented a New York State Assembly Resolution on Tuesday in Cairo recognizing the Cairo, Prehistoric Forest, located in the majestic Northern Catskill Mountains, as the oldest fossil forest in the world.

Previously, the world’s oldest forest was thought to be in Gilboa, New York, less than 30 miles away from the site in Cairo. Following the research efforts by Professor Emeritus of Biological Science William Stein from Binghamton University, it was determined the site in Cairo was 2 to 3 million years older. Over a decade ago, Professor Stein and his team were sifting through fossil soils at a quarry behind the Cairo Highway Department when they discovered the root system of trees thought to be 385 million years old, dating back to the Devonian Age, which represents a period of time in which the first forest appeared on Earth, changing the ecosystem forever.

“Having the world’s oldest fossilized forest in our backyard gives us a remarkable and unique window into the past,” said Tague. “It’s a treasure trove of valuable scientific data and needs to be protected for future research. This forest is another gem for Greene County, let’s preserve it for everyone to enjoy and study for years to come.”

This historic discovery helps to explain what ancient Catskill delta forests were like and gives scientists the opportunity to understand past environments in order to predict future global transformation. Ultimately, the town hopes to open the forest to the public; however, their top priority right now is the protection and preservation of the site.