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 Post subject: Cranberry Mine Closed to Visitors
PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:51 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2005 11:28 pm
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Location: Winnemucca, NV
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New York's Cranberry Mine, a mine located in southern New York state, has been closed to (human) visitors. The former iron ore mine containing historical artifacts and a well carved example of 19th century industry, has previously provided visitors of Harriman State Park, with a compelling and free and relatively safe underground mine tour. Due to declining bat populations in the last couple of years caused by a disease known as WNS or White Nose Syndrome, some mines have been closed to visitors during hibernating months.

White Nose Syndrome is a disease that has decimated bat populations particularly in the northeast killing over 1,000,000 bats since its discovery in January of 2007. This has been a particular concern for the endangered Indiana Bat which roosts in some mines in the northeast. Furthermore, the bat population has been reduced due to deforestation and the sealing of abandoned mines. The Croton Magnetic Mine in Carmel, NY saw the fate of its bat hibernaculum in 2008 when its landowner bulldozed and filled its remaining entrances. It is believed that potentially thousands of bats were killed unnecessarily after they became entombed in the mine.

While it appears increasingly evident that human visitation to mines and caves has had no effect on spreading the disease, those that support sensitive bat populations should be avoided during hibernating months. Fortunately bats are also adaptable in moving into abandoned mines in which access has been completely blocked, even for several decades. This realization opens up new possibilities to create new bat hibernaculums by refurbishing mines that have either been soil eroded shut or have been previously backfilled. In fact, bats have been seen to populate these areas in as little as a week.

Time will tell if the Cranberry Mine will reopen for human visitors perhaps in summer months when there is no concern over disturbing non-hibernating bats. In the meantime, striking a balance between preserving bat populations and preserving the legacy of the historic mining industry, particularly in the northeast should always be considered. Without a gateway into seeing, understanding, and appreciating bats and mines, awareness and ultimately the preservation of both may ultimately be at stake.

Pictures can be viewed here:

"If you thought old, abandoned mines were only in the west, then you haven't been to!"

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