Oregon Caves Superintendent Craig Ackerman says clearcutting and the use of herbicides during tree planting in the monument's watershed might be changing the acidity of water flowing through the caves. A significant change would disrupt the caves' formations and their subterranean ecosystem, and harm the habitat of the threatened big-eared bat, says Ackerman.
Although the Park Service has just begun to study the long-term impacts, the issue has come to a head because the agency is formulating a new management plan for the monument. According to Ackerman, the plan may call for an expansion of the monument's boundaries onto Forest Service land. A draft plan is expected by February 1997.
* Katie Fesus