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Western Kentucky University

Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park Cave Project

Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park Cave Project

Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park is located in south-central Kentucky near the confluence of the Wolf and Obey Rivers. The 13.8 km2 park, which straddles the boundary between Cumberland County and Clinton County, is home to a variety of karst features and over 75 caves. A collaborative project between the Park Staff, the Green River Grotto and the Hoffman Environmental Research Institute was initiated in the fall of 2008 to survey existing caves and to document new caves as discovered. On the first trip to the park a total of nine entrances to five caves were identified by Park Staff. Surveys on the larger known caves in the park, Cindy Cave and Barn Cave, began in October 2008. Since that time a total of 75 additional caves have been found through ridgewalking efforts. Of these caves over 52 have been surveyed with 30 maps drafted to completion. The longest caves thus far are Cindy Cave at 898.6 meters and Hole #8 Cave, which is 394.7 meters; active surveys in Hole #8 continue to add length to what is likely the longest cave in the park.

The addition of the caves at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park has dramatically increased the speleological understanding of the area. In Clinton County the addition of new caves doubled the known caves for the county, while in Cumberland County the number of known caves tripled. While many of the caves at the park are shorter, many less than 30 meters, they do possess some unique characteristics. The caves also provide habitat for Species of Concern for Kentucky, including Rafinesque Big-Eared Bats, and preserve delicate archaeological resources. Karst features, including swallets, sinkholes, soil pipings, and springs, have also been documented throughout the park. A high number of large sinkholes have been found just below the crests of the ridges, especially in the vicinity of the Park Store and campground. In some portions of the park nearly all of the water draining the upper portions of the ridges will flow into these sinks, and then drain out via small springs located downslope.

Exploration, survey, and documentation of the cave and karst features continues unabated today with trips occurring usually once a month. New caves surely remain to be found in areas of the park not yet examined by ridgewalking as well as in the extensive private lands adjacent to the park.

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 Last Modified 9/25/14