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Seasonal changes under way at Lava Beds to protect bats

LAVA BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT — Seasonal changes are under way at Lava Beds National Monument for the park’s visitor center and for the status of caves to protect bat habitat.

Marc Blackburn, the park’s visitor services manager, said that for the fall and winter months the visitor center will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center will be open Nov. 11 on Veterans Day, Nov. 25 on Thanksgiving, and Jan. 1 on New Year’s Day. The center will be closed Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

Blackburn said the switchover between summer and winter cave closures is in effect. The following caves are closed to protect winter bat habitat: Juniper-Hercules Leg, Labyrinth-Lava Brook, Thunderbolt Cave and the northern section connecting to Labyrinth-Lava Brook Cave, Sentinel and Sunshine caves.

Caves that have reopened include: Balcony, Caldwell, Balcony Chamber, Blue Grotto, Miterite Hall, Natural Bridge, Ovis/Paradise Alleys and South Labyrinth

The Antelope fire, which swept through the western portion of the park in September, continues to affect certain park sites. So far the following sites have reopened: Fleener Chimneys, Mammoth Crater Trail and Big Nasty Trail.

In addition to the burned area west of the Park Road and Medicine Lake Road, Merrill and Heppe Ice Caves remain closed as park staff continue with condition assessments. People traveling along the main park road are asked to not stop or pull over on the roadway to observe the burned area. Instead, motorists are asked to park in designated pullouts. People hiking through recently burned areas are asked obey the closures and stay on the designated trails.

For more information, call 530-667-8113, email labe_interpretation@nps.gov or go to the park website at www.nps.gov/labe.