To protect its underground splendor, Mammoth Cave National Park has proposed a new environmental assessment: the Cave and Karst Management Plan. The plan will serve as a framework for how park staff will manage the cave and karst resources and it will be a reference point for how park visitation, research projects and activities on the surface might affect underground resources. For the past couple years, park staff have been accumulating data and input into a draft. They didn’t identify a need to significantly alter how the park has been operating, but rather solidified methods of managing resources, according to park spokeswoman Molly Schroer. “We realized that we needed this type of document in place to help us making decisions on how we are managing the resources of the park,” Schroer said. In a few weeks, for example, the park will begin renovating the Green River Ferry – which is now scheduled to be closed from July 8 through Nov. 15. The plan will help set precedents for these types of projects. The biggest challenge with protecting the cave is balancing access to the cave with cultural preservation, cave restoration and animal conservation efforts. The other problem is pollution. “Anything that happens at the surface affects the cave,” Schroer said, especially in regards to groundwater. Surface runoff from trails, nearby agriculture and roads (such as spills on Interstate 65) drain into Mammoth Cave’s extensive underground network. The public comment period will last from July 1-30. The document is available at, where people can also provide comments. The park will host public meetings from 4 to 6 p.m. July 16 at Cave City Convention Center and from 4 to 6 p.m. July 18 at the Edmonson County Public Library in Brownsville. Attendees can meet with park staff and provide written comments. “Part of the planning process for the park service is to let people know what we’re doing,” Schroer said.

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