SOMERSET, Ky. (AP) - Workers rappel into the cool, dark cave,
then dig trash from the mud. They put it into large bags and hook
the bags to a rope from a winch.
High above them, a worker backs a truck to pull up the load,
then others pull the bag into a small front-end loader and take it
to truck-size trash bins set up in the field.
So goes the efforts to clean up the cave in south-central
Kentucky called a Saltpeter Pit - so named because it once was a
source of the gunpowder ingredient.
Workers have found a lot of variety in the trash, from
soft-drink cans to a cow skeleton, refrigerators and a 17-foot john
boat, along with license plates from as far away as New Jersey.
The cleanup effort developed after a team from Bat Conservation
International found the cave in a rural, hilly part of eastern
Pulaski County in while searching for old saltpeter caves, said Jim
Kennedy, a resource specialist with the organization.
"We were appalled by the amount of trash," Kennedy said, but
excited that a large colony of Rafinesque's big-eared bats
hibernates in the cave.