Senator Files Legislation to Reopen Iowa’s Maquoketa Caves
Closed in an attempt to help slow the spread of white nose syndrome, the caves were a major attraction for the park which, prior to their closure, saw more than 200,000 visitors a year.
Not only do the people of Maquoketa enjoy the entertainment value, there’s also a tourism issue too,” – Tod Bowman, Iowa State Senator
Since then visitor numbers have plummeted by 80 percent to a mere 40,000 people each year.
The people that visit the caves have a tremendous economic impact that trickle down to the main street, the businesses that you know, legislators are very concerned about, – Tod Bowman, Iowa State Senator
Bowman notes that there have been no confirmed cases of white nose syndrome in the state and that research shows that transmission primarily occurs via bat-to-bat contact.
It’s just a shame not to be using it if there’s no definite answer and it’s inevitable that these bats are going to be exposed to it, – Tod Bowman, Iowa State Senator
The Iowa D.N.R. are reviewing ideas that may allow restricted use of the caves later this year, however they warn that their full opening may still be months or years in the future.
Bowman argues that guided tours of the caves in Maquoketa State Park are not enough to bring back the thousands of visitors lost when the caves were closed.