Cherry Valley cave offers rare glimpse of Pocono bat habitat

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Cherry Valley cave offers rare glimpse of Pocono bat habitat

Postby jonsdigs » Sep 17, 2006 9:04 am

Here is an article about an excursion by the Nature Conservancy to preserved bat habitat in the Pocono Heritage Land Trust's Hartmans's Cave.

Cherry Valley cave offers rare glimpse of Pocono bat habitat

CHRIS REBER
For the Pocono Record
September 17, 2006


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Hartman's Cave is one of the few caves in Monroe County that humans can navigate. The cave has an unknown number of smaller tunnels, but most of these tunnels are too small for people to enter.

Early explorers of Hartman's Cave found rare fossils of prehistoric animals such as the giant beaver, and animals long gone from the Northeast, such as the bison.

Even though those fossils have long since been excavated, the cave is still a fascinating attraction — a preserved slice of the Poconos usually reserved for hibernating bats.

Recently, about 15 people had the exclusive opportunity to legally explore the Cherry Valley cave — one of the few caves in the county that humans can navigate. The cave is owned by the Pocono Heritage Land Trust and maintained by The Nature Conservancy.

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Nature Conservancy naturalist and guide Patti O'Keefe, right, points out evidence of HartmanÂ’s Cave residents, a series of footprints in a small pond.

The Nature Conservancy offers tours only about once a year because the cave is an active bat habitat. The cave was previously part of private property, but when the Land Trust bought the parcel last year, the group wanted to ensure the bats could hibernate undisturbed during the winter. Members erected a gate allowing passage for bats but not humans, and kept access to the cave on private property.

"When the bats are hibernating they can be disturbed by humans, and they may not be able to make it through winter," Patti O'Keefe, a naturalist and guide for The Nature Conservancy, said.

The 100-foot cave is home to the eastern pipistrelle, the little brown bat, the small-footed bat, and the Indiana bat, which is endangered. This habitat is vital because there are relatively few caves for bats in Monroe County. Cold Air Cave in Delaware Water Gap is another.

Hartman's Cave has an unknown number of smaller tunnels, but most of these tunnels are too small for humans to enter.

"The cave is the kind of hibernation place where bats from all over can come to that spot, and then return to their habitat the next year," O'Keefe said.

Bats, like many other wildlife species in Monroe County, face significant danger from land development and human contact.

Bats eat large amounts of mosquitoes and other insects, and there is evidence that the spraying of insecticides around the Poconos has impacted some bat populations, O'Keefe said.

"We need to push preservation because they need the shelter and food supply that they would not have if this area were totally developed," O'Keefe said.

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About 15 lucky spelunkers were permitted into HartmanÂ’s Cave recently, guided by a Nature Conservancy naturalist. The cave is usually blocked by a gate that allows bats to pass, but not humans.

FOR INFORMATION
Hartman's Cave is in Cherry Valley, but since people are not to enter unless invited by The Nature Conservancy and Pocono Heritage Land Trust, the exact location has been withheld in this article.

For information about the cave, contact The Nature Conservancy at 570 643-7922.


-Jon Barker
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Postby AMF » Sep 18, 2006 6:07 pm

Wow... now THERE is a blast from the past. Hartmans was my first cave. My great uncle, a geochem prof at Stroudsburg State, lived the other side of the mountain. One winter - I was maybe 12, so I'd guess around 1966 - he took my dad & I on a hike over the mountain to the cave. I remember finding a piece of flowstone or bacon on the floor & taking it out. The realization that when the formation dries up its pretty non-descript cured me of any further inclination to remove cave formations. But the whole experience prompted my dad (& later me) to join the NSS. I've thought about the cave from time to time (not that it was really worth a second visit!) but had no idea the nature conservancey had acquired it.

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