Conduct Biological and WNS Monitoring and Expand Educational Opportunities at Ozark National Scenic Riverways
PI: Kimberly Houf
Ozark National Scenic Riverways used the funds to continue current bat and cave management efforts through a Cooperative Agreement (P14AC01023) with the Cave Research Foundation. OZAR has an extensive monitoring database which allows the Park to evaluate population trends and the progression of WNS. This year WNS was visually prevalent in the majority of all caves inventoried. Although the park is seeing some decreased numbers in some caves, no major "die off" events have been observed. WNS funds allowed OZAR to conducted the following management activities this past year:
Over 130 cave monitoring visits (more than double the number in the previous year) utilizing all decontamination procedures for WNS; All Cave monitoring reports were entered into the main cave database (the data shows fewer and fewer violations occurring in caves within the park); All faunal data (over 500 records) are now entered into the Missouri Cave Database, allowing easy export for a variety of purposes including GIS; Maintained several gates including cleaning and/or replacing locks; constructed new gate for Wallace Cave, strengthened Medlock Cave gate and repaired/replaced sections of Lost Man Cave gate after having been vandalized; Cave mapping took place on all three districts; Survey and cartography efforts continued on a number of projects; Major survey continued in Bealert Blowing Spring Cave, Wallace Cave, and Shop Hollow Cave, all technical caves; Several smaller cave maps were completed; Conducted endangered bat counts or swabs throughout fall and winter in coordination with the Missouri Department of Conservation as needed; A major project was completed to obtain baseline biological data on a number of stream caves in the park; CRF attended the National Cave and Karst Management Symposium (in Kentucky) and the National Speleological Society convention (Nevada) and gave papers relevant to OZAR at both; Prepared reports for the NPS Inside Earth karst newsletter; Led two Educational tours of Round Spring Cavern one for the speleology class at Missouri State University and another for professionals associated with the Current River Conservation Opportunity Area; Participated in Junior Ranger Day at Alley Spring; Developed and produced an interpretive/educational bat bookmark and poster; CRF hosted state meetings of the Missouri Speleological Survey and the Missouri Caves and Karst Conservancy at Powder Mill Research Center in OZAR; and Developed new graphic for an NPS wayside. OZAR extended 3 seasonal interpretive rangers to educate park visitors and the local communities/schools about WNS and issues related to karst. These interpreters provided many programs throughout the season, and contacted hundreds of visitors and local citizens in the process. They developed some outstanding programs which can be used and expanded upon next season. Finally, the Park's Interpretation Division implemented WNS decontamination at the Decon Station for all visitors of Round Spring Cave.