¡Aguas, Aguas!

There are so many aspects of Craters of the Moon that make it unique in comparison to anything else in the country. There have been many people who have passed by here and saw nothing but a black, desolate landscape. However, there have been people like Robert Limbert, the staff of Craters of the Moon, and thousands of visitors every year who come across this place and just think “wow”. Unusual, is the location that you would find this active volcanic landscape and vast is the miles of lava that you can see over the horizon. Truly visitors cannot appreciate this landscape for what it is unless they are here, in person, to witness it. Even more amazing will this place be when the next eruption occurs any day now! There have been days where it is challenging to help visitors understand why certain regulations are in place for Craters of the Moon. For example, many are not aware of the disease called White-nose syndrome that has impacted over 7 millions of bats in the United States.  This disease is a fungus that is highly contagious and has 90-100% mortality rate for the bat species. Most caves in the East have been affected and although it was not suspected to travel to the west part of the United States till 2020, it showed up in Washington just last year. So based on that pattern scientist know that Bats do not travel that far of a distances and thus leaves the conclusion that people and their clothing is what is helping spread this deadly fungus. The policy at Craters of the Moon for visitors is that no gear that has been worn in other caves can enter the lava tubes in the monument. The majority of the time visitors are honest and sincere in their answers. Occasionally, there will be a handful of visitors who will be upset because they cannot enter any caves at Craters and do not have any other clothing to wear to be able to go inside and explore. It is challenging to have them understand and feel a sense of responsibility to help us protect the environment that the bats like to be in. This is something Park Rangers have to be proactive about everyday to make sure that every visitors feel a sense of responsibility to be mindful of what they are doing. Not playing loud music in the monument, or picking up their trash, or not feeding the animals is a helpful,however small it may seem! If thousands of visitors picked up the rocks or plucked the flowers that they see along the path the monument , it certainly would not look like the beauty it does today! It has officially been about a month and two weeks that I have been at Craters of the Moon working as an Interpretive Park Ranger and outreach intern. I learned so much about this vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of Cinders cones. It has been truly amazing being able to explore this “weird and scenic landscape”(as described by President Coolidge) this summer.  Coming from someone who has not had an experience with NPS, working here has given me the perspective of what it truly means to take care of the nature that surrounds me. I learned that in many ways I could be impacting the environment regardless if I know it or not and with my internship here I am able to share that with junior rangers who come from all different parts of the U.S.

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