Commentary from Jerry Vineyard – 12/14/2002

Subject: Re: Carroll Survey

From: “Jerry Vineyard”

The information in this report on surveying in UL1 may just be the best news that has yet come out of the “Back Entrance to Carroll” story. Why?

Because it reports the finding of several cavefish–2-3 in every pool checked–which reconfirms that Carroll Cave may indeed be the most important cavefish site in Missouri.

On my desk right now is a document titled “Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge, Proposed Refuge Expansion, Environmental Assessment, Land Protection Plan, and Conceptual Management Plan,” out for review and comment until Jan. 10, 2003. The Ozark Plateau NWR was initially set up to save endangered bats and the Ozark Cavefish, and the proposed expansion is for unprotected sites in Oklahoma. The Refuge concept has sometimes been referred to as a “string of pearls,” each “pearl” being a cave or spring that is home for a population of cavefish and/or bats. So we’re not talking about a huge acquisition program encompassing the whole Ozark Plateau, but rather specific caves, and Carroll could obviously become a centerpiece of such a concept.

At one time, working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Mo. Depts. of Natural Resources and Conservation, we had a large amount of money earmarked for acquiring Carroll Cave. However, any time there are large amounts of money, there are likely to be numerous schemes to spend it, and quite frankly, the money was snagged by other projects before we could arrange a deal, so the opportunity was lost.

Now, however, with the reopening of Carroll and the opportunity to document its importance not only for cavefish but also for bats and other cave-adapted creatures, we may have a second chance. So my suggestion is for the CCC to instruct its exploration/mapping/work crews to be on the lookout for cavefish, and to record any sightings carefully–where, when, how many, etc. The more we know about these creatures, the better the opportunity to save them.

Jerry Vineyard

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