The Friends of Mammoth Cave National Park, works in cooperation with the National Park Service, to fund projects and programs that protect, preserve, and enhance the natural and cultural resources, and the visitor experience of Mammoth Cave National Park. We can only accomplish our goal with the support of individuals and organizations that care about Mammoth Cave and want to help ensure that its magic endures forever.
Mammoth Cave is a special place, well protected as a national park, a World Heritage Site, and as the core area of an International Biosphere Reserve. It is known around the world for its premiere karst landscape, biodiversity, and of course, the longest cave.
That’s the big picture, but how did each of these designations come to be? Through people who had a passion for the park. You could call them friends of the park. People like you!
You can help protect and promote Mammoth Cave by becoming a Friend.
The Friends of Mammoth Cave:
• add a margin of excellence to the park and increase the stewardship of the caves, forests, rivers, and rugged karst terrain of Mammoth Cave.
• find and build new partnerships to fund a wide variety of park programs and research.
• get kids into the woods and into the cave by funding bus transportation to schools that could not afford a field trip without the Friends’ help.
• provide a means to accept donations to further the park’s educational efforts and research.
• recruit volunteers who donate their sweat-equity in the park’s resource protection projects.
We truly appreciate the work of our Friends.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
4:30pm Casual reception in Barn Room
5:00pm Annual meeting and Park update
5:30pm "Kentucky Cave Wars" program with author David Kem
6:00pm Dinner and live music, Lookout Restaurant (dutch treat)
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Come to the 5th annual Bat Night celebration on Saturday, August 29, 2015, hosted by the park and the Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning. Daytime activities are at the Visitor Center (10am-12:30pm), while the evening activities will be centered around the Historic Entrance of Mammoth Cave (7-9pm).
Go to the Center for Science & Learning for more information! It is a free event and everyone is invited to attend. The Friends will host a Find Your Park station in the evening – Find Your Park at Mammoth Cave!
Founders Day brings free Mammoth Passage tours
Thursday, August 06, 2015
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., August 6, 2015 – Mammoth Cave National Park will offer free Mammoth Passage cave tours on Tuesday, August 25, 2015, in honor of Founders Day, the 99th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service.
“We are on the brink of multiple, noteworthy anniversaries,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “Next year, 2016, is our big year. It is the Centennial of the National Park Service, the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Mammoth Cave as the 26th national park, the 35th anniversary the park’s World Heritage designation, and the bicentennial of organized cave tours.”
“We invite the public to help us celebrate,” added Craighead. “Come out for a free Mammoth Passage cave tour, or hike in the woods, ride your horse in the backcountry, or get your exercise on one of the park’s bike trails. Kayak, canoe, and you can fish without a license inside the park – just abide by Kentucky creel limits. Enjoy your national park!”
Mammoth Passage Tours will depart from the visitor center at the following times: 10:15, 11:00, 12:00, 12:30, 1:00, 1:45, 2:30, and 3:30 (Central Time). The ¾-mile, 1¼-hour Mammoth Passage tour is limited to 40 people.
Participants must pick up a free ticket in the visitor center before going on these tours. The Mammoth Passage Tour requires a walk down and up the steep hill below the visitor center, as well as 160 steps. Visit the Rotunda, one of the largest rooms, explore a vast canyon passageway, and learn about 19th-century saltpeter mining operations and the geologic origins of Mammoth Cave on each of these tours.
Note: tour requirements regarding white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats: While there are no known harmful effects to humans, WNS is responsible for the death of millions of hibernating bats across the eastern United States since its discovery in 2006. WNS was found in Mammoth Cave in winter 2012-13. To minimize the spread of WNS fungus, all participants on cave tours must walk across bio-security mats immediately following the conclusion of their tour to clean their footwear.
Construction schedules at Mammoth Cave NP
Tuesday, July 07, 2015
MAMMOTH CAVE, July 7, 2015 - Several construction projects will bring schedule changes to park operations, starting in August.
Cedar Sink Road repair
One mile of Cedar Sink Road, in the southwest corner of the park, will be rebuilt, surfaced, and guard rails will be replaced. The road will be closed August 1 through December 31, 2015. Detour signs will direct traffic to use the Silent Grove Road.
Historic Tour trail reconstruction
Two miles of cave trail will receive paving stones and lint guards between September 2015 and December 2016. Tours/routes will be altered; the following is an outline from the contract:
· September 8, 2015 - Memorial Day 2016: on weekdays there will be no tours in the Historic section; weekend tours to Rafinesque Hall.
· Fall break 2015 (about four weeks): daily tours to Rafinesque Hall.
· Spring break 2016 (about six weeks): daily tours to Rafinesque Hall.
· Memorial Day 2016 - Labor Day 2016: Historic section will be open for tours.
· Labor Day 2016 - December 31, 2016: on weekdays there will be no tours in the Historic section; weekend tours to Rafinesque Hall.
· Fall break 2016 (about four weeks): daily tours to Rafinesque Hall.
On average, 225,000 people walk the Historic tour route every year. Most of the existing trail used on cave tours were constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and because of its age is marked by pot holes, loose sediment, and uneven surfaces. A boardwalk and concrete paving stones were installed in the last fifteen years as pilot projects to help determine the type of trail that would best suit various cave environments. Paving stones, like those used on patios, have proven to be the most practical method.
The park is currently soliciting bids for the work through www.FedBizOpps.gov <http://www.FedBizOpps.gov>. The bid period closes July 17, 2015.
The construction schedule is tentative. Posted tour offerings and tour times may be subject to change during the construction period.
Concessions facilities renovation
The main lodge (dining areas, gift shops, lobby, accessible rooms, Rotunda Room) will close September 8 - May 16, 2016, for replacement of utilities, including HVAC, plumbing, electric; a fire suppression system will be added. The park expects to award the contract by the end of July.
The Heritage Trail wing will close September 8, and will be demolished when funding becomes available.
Forever Resorts will continue to offer:
· Limited food service at the Cavers Camp Store; schedule is to be determined.
· Gifts within the visitor center and at the camp store.
· Daily bus transportation for cave tours will continue.
· Lodging as follows:
· To reserve rooms after October 1, please make reservations by telephone at 270-758-2225.
· Sunset Terrace Lodge will receive interior and exterior renovations and landscaping. Work begins September 8. Ten rooms will remain open from September 8 to November 1. Work will continue through the winter and is planned to be completed by mid-March 2016, when Sunset Terrace Lodge will reopen.
· The 10 Hotel Cottages, which have HVAC units, will remain open through the fall (weather dependent), closing November 1, 2015.
· The 20 Woodland Cottages, which are rustic structures without HVAC, will remain open in the fall as long as weather permits.
· All lodging will close for the season on November 1, 2015, and with plans to reopen in March 2016.
The concessions contract, to operate food service, gift sales, and overnight accommodations, is open for bid through September 9, 2015.
Mammoth Cave NP pumps $43.6 million into local economy
Thursday, April 23, 2015
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., April 23, 2015 – In 2014, Mammoth Cave National Park generated $43.6 million and 683 jobs in the south central Kentucky area, according to a recent economic impact study by the National Park Service. Across the country record numbers of visitors to national parks in 2014 translated into $29.7 billion in economic activity that supported nearly 277,000 jobs across the country. The report can be viewed at http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/vse.cfm
Visitation to Mammoth Cave is growing,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “2014 was our best year in the last ten years. People who visit the park need gasoline, food, lodging, and additional forms of entertainment that the park does not offer. Our neighboring communities provide these services and profit from travelers on their way to Mammoth Cave.”
Of the 523,000 people who visited the park last year, 413,000 toured Mammoth Cave. Visitors also come to the park to use the 85 miles of trails via hiking, biking or on horseback; canoe, kayak or fish in the Green and Nolin Rivers; camp, picnic, or take a Sunday drive and have dinner at the hotel.
“Mammoth Cave National Park is a place to recreate, rejuvenate, and relax,” added Craighead.
“National parks are world-renowned for showcasing our country’s vast natural beauty and cultural and historic heritage, and year after year, we are demonstrating that they are also economic engines in communities across the country,” Director Jarvis said. “Understanding the economic benefit contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the overall value of national park resources. Every tax dollar invested in the NPS returns $10 to the U.S. economy thanks to visitor spending in gateway communities around the 407 parks of the National Park System.”
Thursday, February 26, 2015
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., February 26, 2015 – Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead announced today that fee increases proposed last year will take effect on March 14, 2015. This year, income from park fees will fund renovations at the Mammoth Cave Hotel.
Cave tours will increase by $1 to $2, except the Wild Cave tour, which will increase by $5, and camping fees will increase by $3 to $5. Fees for reservable picnic shelters will increase by $25. Some of these have not changed in seven or more years. Park staff are required to compare the cost of Mammoth Cave fees with the cost of comparable services in the local area in order to set rates.
“We asked for modest increases because we want to ensure that visiting Mammoth Cave will remain affordable,” said Craighead. “However, the cost of operating the park continues to increase along with the need to complete improvement projects on aging park infrastructure. In total, we expect the fee increase to bring an additional $350,000 to the park this year.”
At Mammoth Cave, 80 percent of the money collected is used in the park to provide facilities and services that have direct benefit to park visitors. The remaining 20 percent helps support projects in the 270 national park units that do not charge entrance fees, like nearby Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHP in Hodgenville, Ky.
Fee dollars are a great asset to Mammoth Cave. Fees have been used to fund the new visitor center, repair trails, roads and campsites, and cover the cost of summer tour guides and environmental education with local schools. Big Hollow Trail was also a product of the fee program.
Public comment was accepted from November 14 to December 5, 2014. The park received 17 comments, 12 favored increasing the fees, and 5 opposed increasing the fees.
The authority to charge recreational fees at national parks stems from the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.
Click on title for Fee Schedule
Deadly White-Nose Syndrome Impacts Bats at Mammoth Cave National Park
Monday, February 23, 2015
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., February 23, 2015 – A deadly disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) is taking its toll on the bats at Mammoth Cave National Park. Some bat species in the park have declined as much as 80 percent compared to 2013 numbers. Across the eastern United States and Canada, WNS has killed millions of bats since 2006.
The park is continuing with scheduled cave tours, adapting times and routes in response to bat activity. Bat research and bat monitoring are also ongoing.
“This is a wildlife crisis, unprecedented in our time,” said Mammoth Cave Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “There is no known cure for white-nose syndrome. With the help of wildlife veterinarians and public health officials, however, we have developed plans to minimize its spread by visitors traveling from the park. We are also communicating with our visitors and partners, and are responding to changing situations as they occur.”
White-nose syndrome, a cold-loving fungus, grows on bats’ bare skin (muzzles, wings, and tails) during their winter hibernation, when their body temperatures and immune systems are reduced. It causes bats to awake from hibernation and fly from the cave, exposing them to the elements and wasting energy and fluids vital to their survival. Dead bats are found to be underweight and dehydrated. White-nose syndrome is not known to affect humans.
Craighead requested a site visit by the NPS Disease Outbreak Investigation Team (Team), who traveled to the park in December 2014. Made up of wildlife veterinarians, epidemiologists, and public health officials, the team reviewed park operations and discussed options with the park managers.
One issue the team examined was the increased potential for contact between bats and humans, both inside and outside the cave. In addition to waking the bats, WNS also causes them to behave erratically, thereby increasing the potential for contact with humans. In 2014 there were eleven reports of such contact in the park.
“Bats that have WNS lose their ability to maneuver quickly around objects, like people,” said Rick Toomey, director of the Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning.
“Bats can carry diseases, such as rabies, and though transmission rates are very low, there is a risk that cannot be totally dismissed,” Toomey said. “However, we consider the risk of a person contracting rabies from a bat at Mammoth Cave to be small.”
The Park urges visitors who come in physical contact with bats to consult with a trusted healthcare provider.
“There is an inherent risk in entering a wild place,” said Craighead. “Park employees make sure visitors are aware of what they may encounter. The visitors then decide if it is an acceptable personal risk.”
Dream Rocket has landed at Mammoth Cave National Park
Monday, November 03, 2014
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., November 3, 2014 – Dream big! That’s the purpose of Dream Rocket artwork. Student Dream Rocket creations that focus on Mammoth Cave’s diversity are on display now in the park visitor center. The exhibit will continue through November 16, 2014.
“The student artwork is a fun and creative way to examine a big topic – the biodiversity of Mammoth Cave National Park,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “The park is home to more than 1,300 plant species, and 70 threatened, endangered or state-listed species. The cave is recognized as having one of the most diverse karst biota in the world, with more than 40 species that spend their entire life in the cave and almost 100 others that are readily found in park caves.”
Students from 67 classes in 11 schools collaborated on the 86 pieces of art in the Mammoth Cave exhibit. The schools include: Yonkers Montessori School, Yonkers, N.Y.; Avon Community School, Avon, Ind.; Grayson County Middle School, Leitchfield, Ky.; Laukhuf Elementary, Louisville, Ky.; Bullitt Central High School, Shepherdsville, Ky.; Munfordville School, Munfordville, Ky.; West Hardin Middle School, Cecilia, Ky.; East Hardin Middle School, Glendale, Ky.; Butler County Middle School, Morgantown, Ky.; Hart County High School, Munfordville, Ky.; and Jesse Stuart Elementary School, Madisonville, Ky. In all, 920 students participated in the project.
The Dream Rocket project launched in 2009 as an initiative of the International Fiber Collaborative, a grassroots arts and education organization based in Huntsville, Ala. The overall purpose is to create deeper learning experiences through art, collaboration, and cross-curricular themed programming for individuals and their communities.
Dream Rocket is collecting 8,000 works of art, including those on display at Mammoth Cave, that will be stitched together to wrap a Saturn V Moon Rocket replica at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., for a temporary public art exhibition.
“Through the Mammoth Cave exhibit, visitors will see the many ways that students have expressed their understanding of what the biodiversity of Mammoth Cave National Park means to them,” said Dream Rocket project organizer Jennifer Marsh. “By exposing students to the importance of collaboration, through multi-disciplinary approaches, we hope to inspire them to feel the freedom to dream big.”
To learn more about Dream Rocket, go to http://www.thedreamrocket.com/
Mammoth Cave Backcountry Horsemen commit to park trail work
Thursday, October 23, 2014
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., October 23, 2014 – On October 15, 2014, Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead signed an agreement with representatives of the Mammoth Cave Backcountry Horsemen, as a way to improve maintenance of the park’s horse trails.
“Our agreement with the Mammoth Cave Backcountry Horsemen will greatly boost the care and condition of the park trail system,” said Craighead. “Funding for trail maintenance continues to be a management challenge and concern. Monitoring shows the physical condition of the trails has significantly deteriorated in the last five years, accentuated by severe erosion, mires and trail braiding. Help from trail users is essential to keeping the trails open, enjoyable and safe.”
The agreement states the park and the Mammoth Cave Backcountry Horsemen will meet biannually to develop and review an annual work plan, and discuss organized workdays. The park will provide tools and materials. Volunteers who operate chainsaws must undergo specific training and conduct operations in accordance with the park’s chainsaw plan.
“Park staff constantly battle downed trees across trails,” said Craighead. “We are taking a new approach in allowing volunteers to operate chainsaws in the park, after they have received the required training.”
“This agreement is an important first step in what we hope will be a long-term partnership between Mammoth Cave National Park and Back Country Horsemen in Kentucky,” said Ginny Grulke, chair of the Kentucky Backcountry Horsemen. “We look forward to working as volunteers with the Park staff to ensure that trails are maintained and preserved for the enjoyment of all Mammoth Cave visitors.”
Mammoth Cave National Park has more than 90 miles of trails. All are open to hikers, about 60 miles are designated for horse use, and 25 miles for bicycling.
The inaugural annual planning meeting is scheduled for December 18, to set a work plan for 2015.
Photo credit: NPS photo
Catption: Brenda Cecil, president of the Mammoth Cave Backcountry Horsemen, Superintendent Sarah Craighead, and Ginny Grulke, chair of the Kentucky Backcountry Horsemen, sign an agreement to improve maintenance of the park's horse trails.
Lora Peppers returns to Mammoth Cave as Chief Ranger
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., September 24, 2014 – Lora Peppers already feels at home at Mammoth Cave National Park even though she assumed her new post as chief ranger only in May. Why? Peppers grew up in the hills and hollows of Edmonson County, and is pleased to be back home again.
“Lora’s first job was here at Mammoth Cave as a student aid working with the cave guides,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead, herself a native of the Mammoth Cave region. “She quickly switched to law enforcement and moved up in the ranks as she transferred from park to park over the span of her career. Now Lora has returned as the park’s top law enforcement officer, and to enjoy the landscapes and people she grew up with.”
Born in Tampa, Florida, Peppers’ family came to Edmonson County, Kentucky, when she was in second grade. In 1985, she graduated from Edmonson County High School and started working at the park the same year. She attended Western Kentucky University, working summers at Mammoth Cave, and earned a bachelor of science degree in park management (1990).
“At that time the Park Service offered a co-operative education program to college students, which led to full-time employment,” said Peppers. “I already had a taste of law enforcement at Mammoth Cave thanks to a detail with that division. My first permanent position was at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1990, and I received my federal law enforcement commission while I was there.”
After graduating (1991) from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga., Peppers was stationed at Fort Matanzas, a unit of Castillo de San Marcos. In 1992, she transferred to the Shark Valley district of Everglades National Park, and moved to the Flamingo District in 1994.
“My work at Flamingo as a backcountry ranger was fascinating,” said Peppers. “I tracked manatees, monitored archaeological sites, and tagged crocodiles and alligators. I found the first crocodile nest to be seen on East Cape Sable in 100 years.”
She left the Everglade swamps for Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1997, to deal with bears and Cades Cove crowds. In 1999, Peppers transferred to Shenandoah National Park as a patrol ranger, took a one-year detail as an investigator, and accepted the post of Central-district ranger in 2001.
As the chief ranger at Mammoth Cave, Peppers oversees all law enforcement, emergency services and response, and search and rescue.
“Out of all the responsibilities that fall within the Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Division, the one I am most passionate about is resource protection,” said Peppers. “The resources – that is, the caves, river, and forest habitats – are what attract visitors to Mammoth Cave. To damage or take from that resource diminishes a visitor’s experience, as well as their appreciation for the park and surrounding area.”
While at Shenandoah National Park, Peppers married Greg Roth, who is now a retired ranger. They have two golden retrievers, Deuce and Cooper. When not on the job, Peppers enjoys traveling and quilting.
“It’s great to be back home,” said Peppers. “I feel like I have a built-in support system. I look forward to making new acquaintances and renewing old friendships.”
Photo credit: NPS photo
Caption: As chief ranger at Mammoth Cave National Park, Lora Peppers manages the division of Law Enforcement and Emergency Services.
TNC meets and works at Mammoth Cave National Park
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., July 29, 2014 – Staff members of The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Kentucky Chapter visited Mammoth Cave National Park last weekend to view the work TNC has accomplished within the park, and as an orientation for the group’s new state director, David Phemister. Also attending were six high school students from Atlanta, Ga., interning with TNC through its Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future, or LEAF.
“Mammoth Cave National Park has a long, productive relationship with The Nature Conservancy,” said Acting Superintendent Lizzie Watts. “TNC staff, interns and volunteers have assisted the park with prescribed fires, in controlling invasive plants, and in improving mussel habitat in Green River through the Sustainable Rivers Program.”
Park Ecologist Rick Olson led the group on a special cave trip through the Violet City Lantern Tour route, to the Dead Sea, up through Mammoth Dome, and out the Historic Entrance, about 3.5 miles underground.
“It was a pleasure to introduce Mr. Phemister, his staff, and the LEAF interns to a few of Mammoth Cave’s passageways,” said Olson. “We looked at 2,000-year-old gourd bowls left by the prehistoric miners and discussed the power of water and time in forming the world’s longest cave. Mammoth Cave is one of those places that you have to see to believe.”
On July 21, 2014, Phemister was named TNC’s State Director of the Kentucky Chapter. Phemister oversees the strategic direction and management of the Kentucky Chapter’s eleven-person staff, system of 36 nature preserves totaling 7,665 acres and array of conservation projects taking place around the state.
“Our LEAF interns have primarily been working on urban conservation in Louisville,” said Gerry James, TNC-Kentucky’s Donor & Community Outreach Coordinator. “But we wanted them to get a well-rounded ‘#ExploreKentucky’ experience, so they have also worked at the Sally Brown Preserve in Garrand County, and visited Shaker Village, Campbellsville University, and now Mammoth Cave National Park.”
This week, TNC staff will be back at Mammoth Cave to remove invasive plants from the park barrens, near Park City. “This is a reclaimed prairie,” said Olson. “About 70 acres along the parkway were covered with cedar and brushes. The 50-year-old seed bank seemed intact, and it appeared that the seeds were still viable, but just needed sun to grow. We removed the trees and shrubs and the prairie plants returned. Unfortunately, undesirable came up, too, like stilt grass, perilla, and lespedeza.” The TNC crew and Olson will spray invasive plants that crowd out native species. The application is done in a very targeted manner to avoid damage to native plants and wildlife.
Tourism to Mammoth Cave NP creates $40 million in Economic Benefit
Friday, July 18, 2014
Report shows visitor spending supports 567 jobs in local economy
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., July 18, 2014 – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 494,541 visitors to Mammoth Cave National Park in 2013 spent $40 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 567 jobs in the local area.
“At Mammoth Cave, we welcome visitors from every state and from around the world,” said Acting Superintendent Lizzie Watts. “It is an honor to share stories of Mammoth Cave’s history and scientific research, and help people experience the cave, the rivers, and the beautiful karst landscape of the park. Mammoth Cave National Park draws thousands of people to south central Kentucky, benefiting local communities and businesses. Many people make return visits.”
Mammoth Cave is one of 401 areas managed by the NPS across the country. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning an average of $10 for every $1 invested in the NPS.
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service. The report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with more than 197,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.
According to the 2013 economic analysis, most visitor-spending was for lodging (30.3 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent).
The largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).
To download the report visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm
The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.
To learn more about national park areas in Kentucky and how the National Park Service works with Kentucky communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/KENTUCKY.
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