Friends of Wind Cave National Park (FWC) is a 501-C-3 non-profit organization whose mission is to support and promote Wind Cave National Park as a natural and cultural treasure. In addition, it will strive to expand the awareness of the unique value of Wind Cave National Park to the Black Hills Community and the nation.
Friends groups exist across the United States as citizen based advocates for individual national parks. Friends groups are contractual partnerships enabling effective stewardship of these parks.
National Parks are restricted by various statutes and laws in advocating for their individual park needs. For instance, there are limits prohibiting advertising and parks cannot solicit direct donations. National Park budgets are established by the US government and typically cover only basic operating expenses. One computation showed that the portion of individual tax dollars expended on National Parks equates to 1/13 of one cent per tax dollar. That means $130 of tax receipts into the federal treasury provide only ONE DIME of funding channeled back to our parks!
Friends groups can provide community based fundraising for various projects to enhance the local park's interpretative programs or to maintain or install new infrastructure ranging from trails to buildings. Friends groups can receive and administer your ear-marked donation for specific projects.
Friends of Wind Cave National Park was incorporated as a non-profit organization by the state of South Dakota in the summer of 2011. Federal tax exempt 501-C-3 non-profit status was attained in 2012.
Friends of Wind Cave National Park values your participation, your enthusiasm and generous financial support in helping Wind Cave National Park be one of the true jewels of the National Park system and our national heritage. Please review the other tabs to learn more.
Friends Host Persistence Cave Program
On July 25, 2015 Friends of Wind Cave National Park hosted a program and reception at the Wind Cave National Park Visitor Center auditorium on the most recent findings at Persistence Cave. The event attracted a standing room only crowd of nearly 100 persons, consisting of both visitors and interested community members. The program detailed a collaboration of Wind Cave National Park personnel and staff from the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs.
In 2004 a small rocky outcrop 1/3 mile from Wind Cave was discovered to conceal a small opening suggesting a larger underground cave system because of notable movement of air in and out of the hole. The site was well protected, however, with a generous growth of poison ivy at the entrance and several venomous rattlesnakes using the location as a den site.
In 2015, after initial examination of sediment from the cave mouth disclosed a plentitude of fossils, a careful excavation began under the direction of Dr. Jim Mead from East Tennessee University. Dr. Mead serves as Site Director at the Mammoth Site and he was the Persistence Cave project's principal investigator.
The cave was a mostly sediment choked space, allowing workers only about 2 feet of height and extended about 150 feet underground. Workers carried bags of soil from the cave for painstakingly slow and careful analysis. Most bones were fossil fragments with indications of carnivore tooth marks. The significance of the fossils became quickly apparent.
Of particular note was the finding of fossil pika, whose relatives today are only found in much cooler boreal mountain environments, evidence of a marked climate shift for the area! Other extinct animals were also catalogued, including different species of voles, camelops (a one humped camel), ancient horses, bison and bears.
The variety and nature of fossils offer new and fascinating clues about climate variation and animal adaptation. Undoubtedly the fossils are more than 11,000 years old and there are some indications some may be tens of thousands of years older and the sediment layers appear to provide an increasingly older timeline as excavations progress.
This key partnership of the Mammoth Site and Wind Cave National Park will likely continue for several summers as these scientific treasures are studied. For now the site is protected with a National Park installed gate. Park cavers and scientific investigators, alike, eagerly await further exploration and analysis.