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Sinkhole Cleanup Day - October 24, 2009

Volunteers are invited to Make a Difference Saturday to help protect our mountain groundwater. The Monongahela National Forest, Mountain State Grotto caving group, and Appalachian Forest Heritage Area AmeriCorps are joining forces to clean up the Pink Helictite Cave sinkhole on October 24, 2009 for Make a Difference Day.

sinkhole cleanup one

Pink Helictite Cave has its entrance at the base of the sinkhole west of Durbin. The sinkhole had been used as a dump for many years. While a pile of trash is not an attractive sight, it does more than just spoil the natural beauty of a place.

Sinkholes are directly related to groundwater quality. Water is naturally purified as it passes slowly through soil. Where soil cover is thin, groundwater may not be filtered sufficiently to remove surface contaminants. Surface water that enters a sinkhole passes immediately into the groundwater reservoir without any filtration. In addition, contaminants that enter a sinkhole are carried away from the sinkhole at a very high rate of speed. And, pollutants leaching from trash can enter drinking water. Of particular concern are chemicals found in containers of oil, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer that have been thrown into these illegal dumps.

sinkhole cleanup two

At Pink Helictite Cave sinkhole, water enters the cave from a spring that pours over the limestone cliff on one side of the sinkhole, and from overland run off that passes through the sinkhole. With the sinkhole filled with household trash, this water carries pollutants into the area�s karst groundwater system. This Make a Difference Day project will help clean out the trash to protect groundwater quality.

The Mountain State Grotto identified the trash problem, and working with West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Land Restoration group, many tons of the largest and most obnoxious trash were removed by a contractor. Members of the Mountain State Grotto found, however, that much household trash remained buried in the sinkhole, probably by sediment carried into the sinkhole during the many years that the secondary road ditch led into the sinkhole. The road ditch and easy vehicular access to the sinkhole were cut off, and Mountain State Grotto members commenced to finish the clean up.

sinkhole cleanup three

Five trash pick-up sessions, including 2008 Make a Difference Day, have removed more than 3.5 tons of garbage. This work has greatly reduced the bulk of the remaining trash, but to rid the sinkhole of the source of groundwater pollution, more trash removal is necessary. With the help of many hands, we hope to reach clean, natural ground soon.

Make A Difference Day is an encompassing national day of helping others -- a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors. Everyone can participate. Make A Difference Day is an annual event that takes place on the fourth Saturday of every October.

sinkhole cleanup four

Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is a regional initiative to promote heritage tourism and education based on forest heritage. The AFHA AmeriCorps members work on a variety of community projects relating to heritage development, conservation, and historic preservation. AFHA AmeriCorps is funded in part by Volunteer West Virginia, the state�s Commission for National and Community Service, and by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

 

Questions or comments about site: webster@appalachianforest.us