Senator seeks to reopen Maquoketa caves

Photo by stephadamo, Flickr.

Senator Tod Bowman has filed legislation that would force the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to reopen the caves at Maquoketa Caves State Park.

Bowman, (D) Maquoketa, says that the caves are a valuable source of entertainment and tourism for the area, and claims the park has lost tens of thousands of visitors since the caves closed in 2009.

“The people that visit the caves have a tremendous economic impact that trickle down to the main street, the businesses that you know, legislators are very concerned about,” said Bowman.

The Iowa DNR closed the caves to protect bats from a fungus known as “white nose syndrome,” but Bowman’s legislation argues that the fungus is mostly transmitted through bat-to-bat contact, and there have been no confirmed cases of white nose syndrome in Iowa.

“It’s just a shame not to be using it if there’s no definite answer and it’s inevitable that these bats are going to be exposed to it,” said Bowman.

Scott Dykstra, a Park Ranger for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said the DNR is considering options that could allow for restricted use of the caves later this year, but a fully-fledged reopening of the caves for public use could still be months or even years down the road.

For more information, read the full article at KWQC.

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