August 21, 2007
New Cave Discovered in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
In August four researchers affiliated with the Cave Research Foundation discovered a significant new cave within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks that has been named Ursa Minor.
The cave features large passages and rooms – many of which are more than 50 feet wide – and beautiful cave formations. These include long and graceful cave curtains, fragile soda straws up to 6 feet in length, and large areas of multicolored flowstones. Crystals in the flowstone produce brilliant sparkles across the cave’s floors and walls. Ancient animal skeletons were found in the cave including one that resembles a bear influencing the naming of the cave. Cave-adapted invertebrates that may be new or rare species have also been seen. Three of the 27 new species recently discovered in parks’ caves appear to inhabit Ursa Minor. It is clear that several of the larger passages continue and the actual length of the cave remains unknown at this time.
In keeping with park policies, this new cave is automatically placed in Management Class 4 from the Park Cave Management Plan. Such caves are closed to recreational visits pending evaluation and scientific study. Park cave management staff are conducting a series of trips with subject matter experts to create an accurate and detailed map of the cave, inventory its features, conduct a biological inventory, photo document cave features and formations and gate the cave entrance to protect it.
The new cave was found as part of an on-going park-approved project managed by the Cave Research Foundation that conducts searches for new caves and cave passages. Sequoia National Park is the nation’s second oldest park and was created in 1890.
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