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Spring Mill, Cave River Valley & McCormick Creek To Open Caves
Updated April 9, 2014 8:07 AM
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(MITCHELL) - Hoosiers will have a little more access to some state-owned caves due to recent changes at Spring Mill State Park and nearby satellite property Cave River Valley Natural Area, and at McCormick's Creek State Park.

The changes affect Upper Twin, Donaldson and Bronson caves at Spring Mill, Endless and River caves at Cave River Valley, and Wolf Cave at McCormick's Creek.

The caves have been closed to the public since 2009, in response to the spread of white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal infection that is killing bats in large numbers.

Upper Twin, Bronson, Endless, River and the wet side of Donaldson will re-open, but will be restricted to self-guided, registered groups only. Such groups must register through the Indiana Karst Conservancy and complete an online training program explaining WNS decontamination procedures.

Registration is at ikc.caves.org/dnr/spring_mill.htm.

Donaldson and Bronson caves will be available for registered groups year-round, but seasonal restrictions apply to Upper Twin, Endless and River caves. Upper Twin Cave will only be open Nov. 1 through May 15 to prevent interference with park-sponsored tours of Twin Caves. Endless and River caves will only be open May 1 through Aug. 31 so that hibernating bats are not disturbed.

The reopening of caves to group exploration at Spring Mill and Cave River Valley is through a partnership with Indiana Karst Conservancy with the common goal of improving outdoor recreation and cave education opportunities for cavers and youth groups.

In addition to the IKC partnership activities, the DNR will reopen Wolf Cave at McCormick's Creek and the dry side of Donaldson Cave at Spring Mill to regular park visitors, year-round beginning May 1. The dry side of Donaldson Cave is accessible from Trail 3. No permits are required for access to these two locations.

Twin Caves Boat Tours will continue as usual at Spring Mill.

All other caves and sinkholes on DNR properties will remain closed as research continues on the spread and impact of WNS on bats.

To learn more about WNS, visit dnr.IN.gov/batdisease.



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