Mammoth Cave National Park anticipates proposed expansion
EDMONSON COUNTY, Ky. – A new bill presented to the U.S. Congress proposes an expansion to Mammoth Cave National Park.
“I talked to the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee and he’s excited to help move this forward. Senator McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate, is handling in the Senate. I think we have a good opportunity for this to to find its way to fruition,” Kentucky Representative Brett Guthrie says.
This is not the first time, however, that Mammoth Cave has expanded in the past.
“The park began in 1941. It was 43,310 acres in size. We are currently at 52,830 acres in size as far as our official boundary. We do have what’s known as an authorized boundary, and that’s 70,618 acres in size,” Molly Schroer, Public Information Officer at Mammoth Cave National Park says.
Mammoth Cave staff are excited to see if the bill passes, as it would allow them to protect more endangered species.
“It would help us to protect endangered gray bats and Indiana bats. The area of land that is owned by the Nature Conservancy that we would take is home to between 150,000 to 200,000 endangered gray bats,” Schroer says.
However, Representative Guthrie doesn’t just want more visitors to the park.
“The gateway communities are tourist oriented and have an economic impact. In Park City, people in Cave City and the region in Brownsville will say people just come here, they see the cave and they leave. So the more opportunities people have to see a cave, do a bike trail, hike trail, rapids, go down the river, they stay in the area,” Guthrie says.
The park first added 284 acres donated by the Commonwealth in 1967. They purchased an additional 116 from the Conversation Fund in 1992. Finally, 4 more were donated by a citizen last year.
The bill, if passed, would allow Mammoth Cave to expand its Authorized Boundary. This would allow them to purchase 550 acres from the Nature Conservancy and protect it.