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Contact: John Apel, Chief of Resource Management, 208-527-1350
The National Park Service is preparing a new Cave Management Plan for Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve that will guide and direct future management of caves and cave resources on National Park Service (NPS) lands. The public is invited to provide input on issues that should be addressed in the plan prior to the development of management alternatives. Written comments may be submitted on-line at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/crmo, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments may also be mailed to Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, P.O. Box 29, Arco, Idaho 83213. Comments submitted by May 31, 2011 will be most helpful in the planning process.
Until a new Cave Management Plan is completed, the NPS will operate under interim guidance to comply with federal laws, NPS policy, and to respond to the westward spread of White-Nose Syndrome. White-Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease fatal to many species of bats, was first detected in 2006 in New York State and has rapidly spread to 16 states and four Canadian provinces. This disease has resulted in mortality rates of over 90% among affected hibernating bat populations and there is a high potential for its continued spread into western states.
In order to address all of these concerns, public access to caves has been restricted to guided tours or permits throughout the National Park System. Five caves with developed trail access near the Craters of the Moon Loop Road remain open to recreational caving this summer but visitors will be required to go on a guided tour or obtain a permit in order to access them. All persons wishing to visit the caves will be screened to determine if they have been in caves in other areas since 2005. Anyone who has visited other caves will be required to wear different clothing, shoes, and equipment during their visit in order to slow the spread of the White-Nose Syndrome fungus. Permits are available at the Craters of the Moon Entrance Station or at the Visitor Center. All other caves on NPS lands within Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve are closed to recreational use until the new Cave Management Plan is completed. The new plan is expected to be completed by the summer of 2012.