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Cave sprucing up

Jason Ferguson
Published: Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Jewel Cave National Monument seasonal employee Deb Street was one of a handful of Jewel Cave employees who spent last Friday pitching in with landscaping work around the monument’s visitor center. The original 1972 plans for landscaping at the center were found in archives, and cave staff worked to implement the plans during last week’s nice weather.

 

By Jason Ferguson
Even though the tourists have left for the most part and the elevators were down for the better part of the month, work has continued at a furious pace at Jewel Cave National Monument.
Park staff have used the down time to do landscaping, prepare new exhibits and do other maintenance work that normally can’t be done during the hustle and bustle of the summer.
The focus last week was landscaping around the visitors center, a project 40 years in the making. When the building was constructed in 1972, the landscaping was designed, but lack of funding prevented it from being completed or maintained. That led to the landscaping looking “pretty ratty,” said Jewel Cave superintendent Larry Johnson.
After the original landscaping design was discovered recently, monument staff decided to restore the landscaping to what it was intended to look like. They enlisted the help of Jeff Prior at Dakota Greens.
“Jeff went to bat for us,”â��said Bradley Block, Jewel Cave’s chief of interpretation. “He worked hard to get the native plants for the landscaping that are being used—the exact species that were called for.”
Park staff members are also in the process of replacing exhibits in the visitor center, which will be completed in March or April of next year, and there are also plans to enclose the covered porch at the entrance of the visitor’s center and turn it into a bookstore and audio/visual learning center—another feature that was included in the original plans.
“We know this is an old building and in a perfect world we would like to have a new building, but that’s not going to happen. The funds are just not there,” Johnson said. “We’re going to make this as good as we can make it.”
Next year will also see parking lot construction at Jewel Cave, as a safer lot designed to catch petroleum and other runoff from vehicles is installed. This filtration system will keep those fluids from contaminating the cave. Aâ��similar system is already in use at Wind Cave National Park. That project will start in April, and the park will remain open while it is ongoing. That project will coincide with the S.D. Department of Transportation’s plans to rebuild Hwy. 16 through Hell Canyon.

Even though the tourists have left for the most part and the elevators were down for the better part of the month, work has continued at a furious pace at Jewel Cave National Monument.

Park staff have used the down time to do landscaping, prepare new exhibits and do other maintenance work that normally can’t be done during the hustle and bustle of the summer.

The focus last week was landscaping around the visitors center, a project 40 years in the making. When the building was constructed in 1972, the landscaping was designed, but lack of funding prevented it from being completed or maintained. That led to the landscaping looking “pretty ratty,” said Jewel Cave superintendent Larry Johnson.

After the original landscaping design was discovered recently, monument staff decided to restore the landscaping to what it was intended to look like. They enlisted the help of Jeff Prior at Dakota Greens.

“Jeff went to bat for us,”â��said Bradley Block, Jewel Cave’s chief of interpretation. “He worked hard to get the native plants for the landscaping that are being used—the exact species that were called for.”

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