Mammoth Cave, the longest known cave in the world, is now a little bit longer. On Friday, at the Mammoth Cave Science Symposium, Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead and Cave Research Foundation President Charles Fox announced that Mammoth Cave is now 400 miles long, up 10 miles from its previously recorded length of 390 miles.
"The Cave Research Foundation has been a key partner with Mammoth Cave since 1956, sharing our commitment to cave and karst stewardship," said Craighead. "Their volunteers make things happen that otherwise would not be possible."
"The expansion of the Mammoth Cave system in the last few years has been a matter of incremental additions to many parts of the cave rather than a single major discovery that pushed the cave past 400 miles," said Fox. "In recent years we have resurveyed sections of the cave so that we can produce more detailed maps that meet modern mapping standards, as well as exploring and mapping previously unexplored passages. We have been able to reach this milestone because of the cooperative work of the Cave Research Foundation, the National Park Service, and also the Central Kentucky Karst Coalition working in a section of Mammoth Cave that lies outside the Park boundary."
The Cave Research Foundation has operations in multiple areas, one of which is Mammoth Cave National Park, with a major focus on cave exploration and cartography. However, the group's volunteers also assist with projects involving restoration, cave gate installation, inventory and monitoring of cave resources, and logistical support for scientific research.
In 2012, the Cave Research Foundation contributed 10,669 volunteer hours to Mammoth Cave National Park, a value of more than $230,000.
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