Marianna Caverns Get Cleaned Up - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Marianna Caverns Get Cleaned Up

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The weather was beautiful,Saturday, but not everyone spent the day soaking up the sun. Some people chose to stay in the dark and volunteered to cleanup the caves at Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna.

"When most people when they think of Florida they think beaches, but we have a little bit of everything," said Kelly Banta, Park Service Specialist.

On a tour through the caves at Florida Caverns State Park, you'll see many beautiful things and possibly some that aren't.

"Because we have opened our caverns to public cavern tours, we have had to install electrical lighting through out the cave. The light causes photosynthesis to occur on the lights and on some of the formations throughout the cave," said Banta.

"In peak years you have 60,000 people come through to tour the cave," said Matthew Kalch, a volunteer. "That's a lot of feet shuffling through and even though it is a wet surface, there is thin layer of dust that settles on the wet formations.

The heat from the lights causes algae and mold to grow, volunteers spent the day trying to beat it, in a way that won't harm the environment.

"We are taking hydrogen peroxide and we are removing some of the algae from around the lights," said Banta. "So, when people come in they'll get to see the pristine natural colors that our found here in Florida and not the green algae that doesn't belong."

"It's a very slow and time consuming project to do," said Chris Hawthorne, Park Manager. "But, it gets it back to where our influence by going in the cave isn't quite as impactive."

The cave cleanup was part of a much bigger event that the park hosts every year. There were things like hydrology demonstrations, wildlife exhibits, face painting and more.

"The community actually takes pride in the state parks," said Kalch. "It's good to meet new people and put them to work doing something that is good for the environment and for the rest of us to enjoy."

"The volunteer force for the Florida park service, they do an incredible thing and yeah would be open without them, but it would not be the same park service without them," said Hawthorne.

More than 500 people attended the event.  

If you would like to get involved, as a volunteer, at the Florida Caverns State Park, click here.

The next event at the park will take place in October, for more information about that, visit the park's website.