High School Cave Club Cave Monitoring Project

Bigfork High SchoolFive students from the Bigfork High School’s Cave Club along with their teacher Hans Bodenhamer went on a week long expedition in April to take part in a cave monitoring project in Grand Canyon National Park.

During the trip, the Cave Club successfully collected data at 11 different caves, monitoring them for minerals, biology such as bats and archeology. Part of the expedition involved identifying a stack of laminated photos to re-establish photo points from previous trips to the caves. Of them, they were successfully able to identify 80%.

The Grand Canyon is estimated to be home to 2,500 to 3,000 caves, altough presently only 400 or so are documented. New caves are constantly being discovered. As part of the trip, the group had the privilage of entering a cave just recently discovered and being some of the very first people inside.

This idea for the expedition began after the Cave Club gave a presentation in Glacier National Park on it’s monitoring project there. The Glacier project which took five years and only involved 8 caves gave the club national regontition and earned them a 2009 President’s Enviromental Youth Award. While it was a long process, writing proposals and raising money (While the park provided transportation and lodgings, the students had to raise money for the flight and food), only at the last minute did everything fall into place.

The park’s hydrologist, Steve Rice who recently has been looking after the caves program as part of his duties claimed it would have taken him months to complete the same volume of work that the students produced in a week. Now that they have returned to Montana, the students are busy pouring over all the data they collected, entering it into GIS software, cataloging it, and talking about going back in the future.

Cave Club tackles monitoring project at Grand Canyon [Bigfork Eagle]

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