NACHES – A popular attraction for amateur spelunkers along the Naches River in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest will open to the public on Friday.
Boulder Cave, the Boulder Cave Day Use site, and the barrier free trail will operate daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. beginning May 24.
A USDA Forest Service interpreter will be on site at the Boulder Cave to provide information about the attraction and offer details to visitors about new protocols regarding White Nose Syndrome, a deadly disease which can wipe out entire colonies of bats.
“To help prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome, visitors are asked to brush off and scrape their shoes on an astro turf carpet prior to entering and leaving the cave,” said USDA Forest Service Wildlife Biologist Joan St. Hilaire in a press release. “We’re all about providing great recreation on public lands while minimizing harmful impacts to wildlife.”
The use of a flashlight is required when exploring the cave and layered clothing and a quality pair of shoes or boots are recommended as well. No dogs or other pets are allowed in the cave in order to reduce the disturbance on the habitat of bats.
“We can all do our part by limiting all noise, staying on the trail, not touching cave walls, and keeping lights off the ceiling” added St. Hilaire.
The cave is only open between late May/early June and early September each year. It is home to the bat species known as the Townsend’s big-eared, which hibernate there for much of the year and is listed as a sensitive species within Washington.