Boulder Cave reopens for summer; bat protection protocol in place

Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii), in a July 20, 2011 file photo by Ann Froschauer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

NACHES, Wash. (June 3, 2019)Boulder Cave, a popular highlight for visitors to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, will opened for the 2019 summer season May 24. Boulder Cave, Boulder Cave Day Use Site, and the Boulder Barrier Free Trail will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Sept. 20, 2019.

The cave is home to Townsend’s big-eared bat, which is listed as a sensitive species in Washington and Oregon.

Bats are susceptible to White Nose Syndrome, a deadly disease triggered by a fungal infection that can kill entire bat colonies by disrupting their winter hibernation.

A USDA Forest Service interpreter will be on site at Boulder Cave to provide information about the cave and explain the White Nose Syndrome prevention protocol visitors must follow as they enter the cave., which include brushing and scraping off the soles of their shoes when entering and leaving the cave.

We’re all about providing great recreation on public lands while minimizing harmful impacts to wildlife,” Joan St. Hilaire, a USDA Forest Service wildlife biologist, said. “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.”

Cave visitors are also encouraged to wash clothing, outerwear, and gear between visits to different caves or other places bats congregate.

When visiting Boulder Cave, all visitors are required to carry a flashlight. A good pair of walking shoes and layered clothing are also recommended. Pets are not allowed.

“We can all do our part by limiting all noise, staying on the trail, not touching cave walls, and keeping lights off the ceiling (to avoid disturbing the bats),” St. Hilaire said.

The cave is closed annually from September through May to provide a secure refuge during the bats’ hibernation period.

A footbridge leads into Boulder Cave west of the community of Naches, Washington on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in an undated USDA Forest Service file photo.

Source information: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest (press release)

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