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Wyandotte Cave to reopen this weekend

The grand reopening of Wyandotte Cave, which has been closed since 2009 in part because of white-nose syndrome affecting bats, will commence with a rededication ceremony and free tours this weekend.
Bob Sawtelle, O’Bannon Woods State Park property manager, said the rededication ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday and will feature a few speakers.
‘Depending on if the governor shows up, that’s No. 1,’ he said. ‘We’re anticipating (District 74 State Rep.) Lloyd Arnold, our director of state parks, Dan Bortner, and then we’ll probably have the pledge of allegiance with local Boy Scouts and I think a cheerleader squad from Harrison County and, of course, a ribbon cutting.’
Various activity stations where attendees can discuss topics such as bats, cave rescue, geology, hellbenders and wood rats, snakes, birds of prey and more also will be available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
‘We’re going to have, from Hardy Lake, the Raptor Center doing programs with their eagles, hawks and owls, and the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service is going to be there to educate folks on what’s happening in the bat’s world, especially with white-nose syndrome,’ Sawtelle said. ‘Purdue (University) is providing us with their hellbender team to educate people on the hellbenders of Blue River.’
Free tours through Little Wyandotte Cave, which last 30 minutes and are self-guided, visiting with stationed guides inside the cave, will run from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. There is no minimum age for this cave. The maximum number per tour group is 15.
Tours through Big Wyandotte Cave, which also are free, will last two hours and need to be signed up for on site. Tour times in Big Wyandotte are slotted for 12:30, 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and 10 and 11 a.m., noon, and 1, 2 and 3 p.m. on Sunday. The minimum age for these tours is 6.
‘We expect a huge amount of visitors,’ Sawtelle said. ‘Free tours gives us an opportunity to adapt the tour to make it a faster pace as an introduction rather than an in-depth tour so that everybody that comes gets to walk through and experience the cave. In the reopening, we’re more interested in sparking interest than charging a fee.’
Sawtelle urges visitors to look for signs and people in traffic vests in regard to parking due to the number of visitors expected this weekend.
Cave tours this season will be available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 15 through Sept. 5.
Tours in Little Wyandotte will cost $8 for adults and $4 for ages 6 to 11, while those 5 and younger will be admitted free. Tours in Big Wyandotte Cave will cost $18 for adults and $9 for ages 6 to 11. Reservations are accepted.
During the regular schedule, tours in Little Wyandotte will run at 10 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 2 p.m. Tours in Big Wyandotte will run at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Headlamps and helmets will be provided for Big Wyandotte.
For more information, call the O’Bannon Woods State Park office at 812-738-8232.

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