Fox 11 Forum - Kartchner Caverns State Park Anniversary - Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews Lynn Perez-Hewitt, Executive Director, Friends of Kartchner Caverns. Kartchner Caverns State Park is celebrating its tenth anniversary of being open to the public. 

Perez-Hewitt says the “live” cave was discovered in 1974 and is host to a wide variety of unique minerals and formations.  She says water percolates from the surface and calcite formations continue to grow, including stalactites dripping down like icicles and giant stalagmites reaching up from the ground.  She says tours take about an hour and a half and generally start every half hour.  

Perez-Hewitt says the cave was kept a secret for four years after its discovery by Randy Tufts and Gary Tenen while they researched what might be the most appropriate means by which to “go public” with their discovery.  She says that occurred in 1988 when the Arizona parks Dept. acquired the property and began the careful development process leading to it’s being open to the public, finally, in 1999. 

Perez-Hewitt says during the summer months, the cave's Big Room serves as a nursery roost for over 1,000 female cave myotis bats. She said the pregnant females return to around the end of April, where they give birth to a single pup in late June. She said the babies remain in the roost each evening while their mothers forage for insects in the surrounding countryside. She said the mothers and their offspring leave mid-September, to begin their migration for their winter hibernation roost. 

Perez-Hewitt says the mission of FKCSP is to ensure the continued preservation of Kartchner Caverns through advocacy, education and public awareness in partnership with the community and Arizona State Parks.