• Bristlecone Pine

    Great Basin

    National Park Nevada

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  • Wheeler Peak Summit Trail Closed

    A small smoldering fire near the trail has caused the closure of the Wheeler Peak Summit Trail. park staff is observing the fire. Check back here to get an update whne the trail will open. Alpine Lakes Loop and Bristlecone Trail are open. More »

  • Road Work at Great Basin National Park

    Road work will begin in Upper Lehman and Wheeler Peak Campgrounds. Campgrounds will be open but may be noisy and have large vehicles on the roads. The Scenic Drive is open with up to 15 min delays due to road work. Click more for details. Updated 9/9/14 More »

  • Travel Not Recommended - Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive Above 8,000 Feet

    Snow and ice may make travel on Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive unsafe, travel is not recommended at this time. Warmer weather over the weekend is expected and conditions may improve. 10/1/2014

  • Snake Creek Road and Campsites Closed

    The Snake Creek Road will be closed from the park boundary into the park to begin work on campsites, trails and restroom improvements. Work will continue until snow closes the project. Work will resume in Spring 2015.

Lint Removal

lint build up in Lehman Caves
Typical lint buildup along the tour routes in Lehman Caves.
NPS PHOTO
 
lint on brush

Lint being removed by brush

NPS PHOTO

In March of 2008 Great Basin National Park hosted a lint camp at Lehman Cave. A total of 10 volunteers from Nevada, California, and Utah traveled to the park to participate. This event was organized due to the significant accumulations of lint throughout the cave since the last lint camp in 2000. Lint is introduced to the cave environment by the approximately 40,000 people who enter the cave each year. Lint is composed of fibers, hairs, skin cells, dust, and other foreign particles. Lint can become cemented into cave formations, causing discoloration or even dissolution of natural cave surfaces. Lint also acts as an artificial food source, potentially causing imbalances in cave biota communities. In addition to removing lint from the cave, lint camp participants also worked to clean flowstone and ceiling surfaces that had become stained with dirt and mud, and to remove foreign debris such as concrete, rock, and sand that had been introduced during trails and lighting projects. Nearly 50 hours of in-cave volunteer time yielded just over 8 pounds of material that was collected and removed from the cave.

 
Crews working to remove the lint buildup

Volunteers and park staff working to remove lint buildup

NPS PHOTO

Lint camp participants focused primarily on areas along the tour routes, as these spots have accumulated the greatest amount of lint and other foreign material. Work was performed in the Grand Palace, Inscription Room, Music Room, Tom Tom Room, Rose Trellis Room, Gothic Palace, Exit Tunnel, and Natural Entrance area. Before beginning, park staff led safety, training, and cave biota identification sessions. To remove lint, workers used paintbrushes and tweezers to brush and pluck lint off cave surfaces. Lint was transferred to a collection bag, along with any other trash found. Lint and other debris from each section of the cave was weighed and photographed prior to disposal. A few interesting finds included rusty hairpins, pieces of old glass bottles, a deteriorated rubber bouncy ball, and a couple of pennies.

A different kind of restoration activity was conducted near the exit tunnel, where volunteers worked to clean bits of hardened mud and sand off the ceiling. When the floor of this area was blasted in the early 1970s to create a walking passage, the impacts of the explosions were contained by stacking sandbags over the blast area. This resulted in much of the sand and finer sediments being projected onto the ceiling, where some of it has remained to this day. A few hours of work in this area using spray bottles and brushes made a remarkable difference to the appearance of the cave ceiling surface and formations.

 
sample selection of material removed from cave

Sample selection of foreign material removed from Lehman Caves

NPS PHOTO

The final evening of lint camp was spent using a tall ladder to reach high ceiling areas in the Gothic Palace. This was the site of some of the most concentrated lint accumulations in the entire cave, indicating the presence of air currents that cause lint deposition 20-30 feet off the ground. Some of the soda straws and stalactites in this area were literally shrouded in lint. Unfortunately lint has become cemented onto some of the cave formations in this area, as water has deposited calcite over old lint deposits. This made the removal process extremely difficult and in some cases impossible. Still, the Gothic Palace ceiling looks far better than before we started.

The lint camp was successful in making Lehman Cave a cleaner place. Future lint camps will target areas that we did not have time to clean in one weekend. Great Basin National Park would like to thank all those who volunteered to help with this important project.

-Shawn Thomas 2008

Did You Know?

Nevada peaks

Nevada is the most mountainous state in the country, with over 300 individual mountain ranges and 42 named summits over 11,000 feet!