|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-06-28                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Michelle Devaney, Longhorns Caverns State Park manager, (512) 663-0543 ]
June 28, 2012
Longhorn Cavern Sporting New Lighting System
Official Dedication to be Held July 19
BURNET -- Add one more reason to visit or revisit Longhorn Cavern State Park this summer other than its constant 68-degree environment. Workers have rewired the National Registered Landmark and replaced decades-old incandescent lights with hundreds of energy-saving, 12-volt halogen lights to better illuminate the cavern's most outstanding natural features.
"We've instituted a new slogan: 'See Longhorn Cavern in a whole, new light,'" says Michelle Devaney, who along with her husband Shawn, manage the 645-acre state park for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as concessionaires. "Even people who have visited the cavern before should return to see the eye-popping difference the new lighting has made."
TPWD spent approximately $700,000 in voter-approved park bond funds during the nine-month capital repair project to replace the old lighting system installed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and to lay more than two miles of wiring and install a sophisticated switching system. Cavern visitors will be able to see the contrast between the old and new lighting systems in the Indian Council Room.
An official "reopening" of the revamped Longhorn Cavern lighting system will feature a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony, as well as cave tours, live music and a chance to meet the people who made the project possible. It is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, July 19. The event is open to the public by advance reservation only and.tickets are available online at: www.longhorncaverns.com .
The old CCC-installed lighting was designed to create an ambient glow through the use of incandescent lights shielded by manmade enclosures. The guiding principal of the new lighting system design by Rodney Horrocks of Hot Springs, S.D., was to wow visitors by directly illuminating the cavern's prominent natural features, such as the Queens Throne and Hall of Gems, according to Mark Winford, TPWD's cavern renovation project manager.
"Much of the new lighting focus is upward and around, rather than down at the floor," Winford explains. "Visitors will be able to see for the first time such speleothems (rock formations) as an impressive flowstone that starts at the ceiling and pours down the wall that hadn't been lighted before. It is quite impressive."
Winford notes that the new low-voltage lights produce very little heat and therefore do not contribute to algae growth like the older lights did in the high-humidity cave environment. Miles of new cabling are ingeniously hidden in cracks and crevices, and masked by earth-colored grout. A newly installed intercom system allows tour guides to stay in touch with personnel on the surface.
Longhorn Cavern's cultural history rivals its natural history. Its first visitors were prehistoric creatures such as mammoths, giant bison, bear and a host of smaller animals. The first evidence of human presence dates back to a time when Native Americans sought refuge in the cavern. Local legend holds that the Comanche held council meetings in the cavern's largest room. Early Texas frontier settlers, Confederate soldiers, Wild West outlaws, Roaring 20s "party animals" and the CCC frequented the cavern in ensuing years.
The "boys" of the CCC Company 854 spent eight years (1934-1942) carving the park out of the rugged Hill Country terrain and transforming the silt-filled cavern into a show cave that draws more than 40,000-plus visitors a year. They used much of the 2.5 million cubic yards of extracted materials to build Park Road 4, explored and lit two miles of cavern walkways, built limestone walls and arches, and erected various park structures, most of which still stand today.
Unlike Texas' other show caves, Longhorn Cavern is the only one formed not just by the seepage of surface water through porous limestone and seeps, but also by calcium carbonate-rich underground rivers that surged through cracks and holes several million years ago, dissolving and eroding solid limestone during the downcutting of the Colorado River. The result is a wonder world of odd-shaped rock formations, smooth-domed ceilings, gaping sinkholes, tight crawlways, rock carvings resembling animals and human faces, rooms of sparkling crystals and alabaster halls of dolomite reminiscent of exquisite Italian marble.
The park offers daily guided tours that last approximately an hour and a half for the approximately 1.5-mile round trip. Visitors should wear low-heeled shoes with rubber soles for safety since some passageways may be damp. The Visitor Center opens at 9 a.m. except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For ticket and schedule information, visit www.longhorncaverns.com or call (830) 598-CAVE (598-2283). For Longhorn Cavern State Park information, visit: http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/longhorn-cavern.
View news images at: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/news_images/?g=longhorn_cavern_sp

[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Nanciann Regalado, Department of the Interior, 678-296-6805, Nanciann_Regalado@fws.gov;
Tom Harvey, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 512-565-3679, Tom.Harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ]
June 28, 2012
Satellite Telemetry Used To Study BP Oil Spill Effects on Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
Impact on World's Most Endangered Sea Turtle Studied on Land, at Sea, in Labs
Padre Island National Seashore, Texas - The Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees this week offered a glimpse into the world of scientists working to assess injuries caused by the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on the world's most endangered sea turtle, the Kemp's ridley. Assessment work includes field and laboratory tests to determine oil-related turtle exposure and satellite tracking via transmitters attached to turtles that come ashore to nest and lay eggs.
The assessment is taking place during the current 2012 Kemp's ridley nesting season at Padre Island National Seashore (near Corpus Christi, Texas). This area makes for an ideal study site because more Kemp's ridley nests have been found here than at any other single location in the United States.
The primary nesting site of the Kemp's ridley is near Rancho Nuevo, Mexico, with significant additional nesting in Texas. The full feeding and migratory range of the sea turtle includes most of the Gulf of Mexico. That range includes the site of the Deepwater Horizon (MC 252) mobile drilling rig and the waters and coastal areas polluted by crude oil and dispersants released after the 2010 rig explosion.
Assessing sea turtle injury is one component of the broader Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment, the most comprehensive NRDA ever undertaken for the largest oil spill in U.S. history. NRDA is a scientific and legal process designed to determine ecological and other injuries caused by the discharge of oil or releases of other hazardous substances. The goal of NRDA is determining the type and amount of restoration needed to compensate the public for harm to natural resources that occur as a result of an oil spill. For more information, see www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.
International efforts to protect the Kemp's ridley began 34 years ago with efforts to increase nesting by establishing a secondary nesting site at Padre Island. A key goal is to provide a safeguard for the species should nesting success at the beaches in Mexico decrease.
Satellite tracking of the Kemp's ridleys began in 1997. Movements were tracked to help predict where and when the turtles might nest again, and assist field staff and volunteers in detecting and protecting nests. Turtles were also tracked to identify habitats used in the Gulf of Mexico. This historical monitoring revealed that after the nesting season, most of the tracked turtles left south Texas and traveled northward, parallel to the coast, with their last identified location in the northern or eastern Gulf of Mexico. Since the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, similar NRDA-sponsored studies are providing data being used to determine Kemp's ridley exposure to and injury resulting from MC 252 oil and dispersants.
Along with satellite tracking, NRDA scientists are also collecting blood and tissue samples from adult turtles and fail-to-hatch turtle eggs for chemical and toxicological analysis. These analyses include testing for the presence of both polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), organic compounds present in crude oil, and for the "fingerprint" of MC252 oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
The Kemp's ridley assessment work at Padre Island National Seashore is led by Donna Shaver, Ph.D., in coordination with a team of other state, federal and university scientists. Shaver is the chief of sea turtle science and recovery at the National Seashore, where she has worked on Kemp's ridley recovery for more than 20 years.
To follow the movements of sea turtles being tracked with satellite transmitters, visit http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking, then selecting the link "Padre Island National Seashore Kemp's Ridley Tracking Program-2012." These web pages include maps and data showing the movements of 10 turtles tagged with satellite transmitters.
On the Net:
Padre Island National Seashore ridley recovery: http://www.nps.gov/pais/naturescience/strp.htm
Kemp’s ridley sea turtle binational recovery plan: http://www.fws.gov/kempsridley/
Deepwater Horizon oil spill NRDA: http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov
Sea turtle satellite tracking: http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking
NOAA Fisheries Service Office of Protected Resources: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/kempsridley.htm
TPWD News Roundup: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/news_roundup/kemps_ridley_nrda_assessment/