Rocky Mountain Region Extends Cave Closures; Acknowledges Cavers

Close Up of Little Brown Bat with WNS

Photo courtesy Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation

The emergency order to restrict access to all caves and abandoned mines on National Forests and Grasslands in the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region was extended yesterday for another 12 months.

An attempt to minimize the risk of the human spread of White-nose syndrome, the order effects Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and most of Wyoming and South Dakota.

The fungus has not yet been detected within the five-state Rocky Mountain Region and we are taking an aggressive approach to minimizing the risk of humans inadvertently introducing the fungus into our caves and abandoned mines. Daniel Jirón, regional forester, U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region

In a welcome addition, this year the closure order provides exemptions to allow active members of the National Speleological Society and Cave Research Foundation to undertake education, inventory, research, monitoring, protection, restoration and other activities necessary to conserve cave resources.

the Forest Service values the expertise of the caving community and views them as stewards of important cave resources and habitat.Daniel Jirón, regional forester, U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region

There is however a stipulation that there will be no access during the winter hibernation season, October 15th until April 15th.

The Rocky Mountain Region is home to approximately 21 species of bats, 15 of which hibernate in the regions estimated 30,000 abandoned mines and hundreds of caves.

Forest Service Extends Closure of Abandoned Mines and Caves as New Studies Indicate 5.5 Million Bats Have Died [U.S. Forest Service]

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