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It is National Park Week and time to celebrate! 2016 marks multiple anniversaries for Mammoth Cave, and the celebration starts this week.
–In 2016, Mammoth Cave National Park celebrates the National Park Service centennial, when Congress signed the Organic Act into law. It initiated a new idea in 1916 – national parks – lands so significant that they should belong to all U.S. citizens.
–In 2016, the Park celebrates the 75th anniversary of Mammoth Cave National Park, the 26th national park. Mammoth Cave, Shenandoah, and Great Smoky Mountains were authorized by Congress to be “parks-in-the-east”, pleasuring grounds within a day’s drive of most of the U.S. population. Mammoth Cave’s 1941 legislation mandates protection of the cave system, the scenic river valleys, and the hilly, karst topography typical of south central Kentucky.
–In 2016, the Park will celebrate 35 years as a World Heritage Site. In 1981, the World Heritage Convention, a branch of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), inscribed Mammoth Cave National Park was as a World Heritage Site, as a superlative natural phenomena; example of major stages of the earth's history, and a most important and significant natural habitat for in-situ conservation of biological diversity.
–In 2016, the Park will celebrate 200 years of guided tours through Mammoth Cave. In the early 1800s, word of a mammoth cave in Kentucky spread around the world. Cabins that housed saltpeter workers at Mammoth Cave a few years before, now served as lodging for road-worn travelers. Cave guiding became a profession to free and enslaved men.
“We invite our neighbors and the traveling public to join us as we celebrate National Park Week,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “Follow a ranger in search of birds and spring wildflowers. Lend a hand to clean up the Park. Become a Junior Ranger. Learn the health benefits of being outside. Take a free cave tour, or bring the entire family out for a picnic. Enjoy your national park!”
April 16 &17, April 23 & 24 – Free cave tour: Mammoth Cave Discovery Tour
Participants must pick up a free ticket in the visitor center before going on this tour. The Mammoth Cave Discovery Tour requires a walk down and up the steep hill below the visitor center, as well as 160 steps. Visit the Rotunda, one of the cave’s largest rooms, explore a vast canyon passageway, and learn about 19th-century saltpeter mining operations and the geologic origins of the Mammoth Cave System. Mammoth Cave Discovery Tour will be offered from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Allow at least 30 minutes; about 3/4 mile round trip. This is a self-guided tour.
Monday-Wednesday, April 18-20 – WKU Research Symposium – park training center
Celebrating the Diversity of Research in the Mammoth Cave Region is the theme of 56 presentations from academics, students, and government agencies. A complete schedule is posted at https://www.nps.gov/maca/learn/index.htm
Saturday, April 23 – National Junior Ranger Day
Learn outdoor skills such as orienteering, first aid, knot tying, water safety, and building a campfire. Skills like these are the foundation for a lifetime of adventures. All activities meet at the visitor center and each will last about 45 minutes. A special event patch or badge may be earned.
9:30 a.m., Where Are We? Basic Orienteering
9:30 a.m., The Birding Beat
10:30 a.m., Beyond a Band-aid
11:30 a.m., Knots to Know
12:30 p.m., Safety on the Water
1:30 p.m., Pioneer Children’s Games
1:30 p.m., Slither, Slink, and Slide
2:30 p.m., Campfire Building - Tips and Tricks
Sunday, April 24 – Park Rx Day
Get inspired to write your own prescription for a healthier you! Join us to learn about the benefits of exercising in natural places through short, informal talks throughout the day – then get out and enjoy the Park!
Note: cave tour requirements regarding white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats: While there are no known harmful effects to humans, WNS is responsible for the death of millions of hibernating bats across the eastern United States since its discovery in 2006. WNS was found in Mammoth Cave in winter 2012-13. To minimize the spread of WNS fungus, all participants on cave tours must walk across bio-security mats to clean footwear immediately following the conclusion of their tour.