September 2022
Karst, Caves, and You!
A Field Trip to The Ozark Underground Laboratory
A message from Chief Operating Officer, Carin Love

A few of our team members had the opportunity to discover and experience one of Taney County’s rural, southeastern, tucked away, natural treasures. Maneuvering winding roads, motion-sickness, and a wrong turn or two we eventually arrived at the Ozark Underground Laboratory (OUL).

Here, we would have the opportunity to tour a very unique, one-of-a-kind laboratory. For this laboratory, we traded in lab coats, microscopes and test tubes for hiking shoes, bug spray, and flashlights. Greeting us was our guide, the Executive Director of the Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation and Senior Project Scientist for the Ozark Underground Lab, Dave Woods.  
Dave, led us on a surface tour of the Ozark hill land and then an underground tour of Tumbling Creek Cave, a designated National Natural Landmark. Founded in 1966 by Tom Aley, founder and President of the OUL, the Tumbling Creek Cave is a critical component of the OUL which is utilized as a research and educational field center. Not only does the OUL educate on the karst landscape, surface and subsurface interactions, but the Tumbling Creek Cave is the only known habitat for the Tumbling Creek Cavesnail.

The surface tour was a beautiful hike among lush, green, native oak and hickory trees where large spider webs expanded the width of the trail. The cover of the dense trees provided enough shade for a warm, but comfortable hike. Our hike was not complete without encountering seed ticks and dodging flying insects, though.
The OUL has a very unique and diverse landscape sprinkled with a number of sinkholes and losing stream segments that we were able to visit along the trail. But let’s be honest, we weren’t only there for a walk through the woods and some exercise; there's more to it that makes this hike so special to H2Ozarks - and to you. This walkable, visual, laboratory provides a workable understanding of how events on the surface (rain events, pollution spills, sinkhole dumping etc.) affect underground environments that house fragile species and provides groundwater for drinking.
In our karst Ozark region, the myth that surface water is filtered and cleaned as it passes through the layers of subsurface prior to entering our underground aquifers isn't entirely true. Because of our karst and fractured rock landscape, water on the surface can move at the rate of at least 50 gallons of water per minute into the cave system below! To put this into perspective, a standard shower head uses only 2.5 gpm of water, and a garden hose uses approximately 9 to 17 gpm of water! A losing stream section in Bear Cave Hollow has transported up to 500 gallons of water per minute from the surface to the cave. A 2 ½ inch gated inlet on a fire hose can supply a max of approximately 300 to 800 gallons of water per minute! Water moving at this rate through karst rock structure does not have the opportunity to filter out pollutants picked up from the surface such as septic waste, dump-site waste, pollution spills, etc., and enters the subsurface environment untreated.
The Tumbling Creek Cave was our next stop on our adventure where we took a tour through 2,100 feet of hard-surface cave trail. We were able to see the vertical cave shafts that receive the water from sinkholes visited during our surface tour. We walked past beautiful formations of stalactites, stalagmites, columns, soda straws, and cave curtains. A couple of tri-colored bats were seen hanging quietly from the rock above us.
Many salamanders greeted us as we descended into the cave, and the grotto salamander was seen in a cave pool as we walked along the trail. Tiny cave millipedes were found along the cavern walls, and the claw marks of bears were seen fossilized into the rock as well. Large piles of bat guano marked the popular colonizing spots of the grey bat. Testing of these piles date the colonization of bats in the Tumbling Creek Cave to 3,000 years ago. The cave streams are very responsive to rainstorms, and flow rates of as much as 100 MILLION gallons per day have occurred within the cave. Tumbling Creek Cave is home to over 115 species, four of which are endangered. Cave organisms are long-lasting, slow moving, slow growing, and do not recover quickly from pollution events.
Committing ourselves to be aware of how our surface actions affect the subsurface environment is critical. Even more critical is making an intentional action to mitigate negative impacts we may cause to our surface water and ultimately to the subsurface beneath our feet. Eventually what enters the cave systems, and our groundwater highway, is routed back to the surface whether it be by re-entering a lake or stream, or being pumped back up from the ground for our use as drinking water. 

The Ozark Underground Laboratory conducts water and land use investigations with special emphasis on karst and fractured rock landscapes. They use dye tracing to follow the movement of underground waters and uses the information to educate others on the intricate interactions of water on the surface and subsurface waters to aid in understanding the need to protect groundwater quality.

Visit their website to learn even more not mentioned here…. I have barely scratched the surface.

The OUL offers tours to educational and professional groups. Click here for more info!

Fellows Lake Trip! From the Desk of Jerry Harman
On Wednesday, August 24, David Casaletto and myself were the guests of Mike Kromrey, Executive Director of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks on Fellows Lake, north of Springfield, Missouri. The Watershed Committee of the Ozarks is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to sustain and improve the water resources of Springfield and Greene County through education and effective management of the region’s watersheds.

Fellows Lake is an 860-acre lake created in 1955 by the impoundment of the Little Sac River. It is the main source of drinking water for Springfield and owned by Springfield City Utilities (CU). Fellows Lake has a family-friendly atmosphere with a forty (40) hp maximum boat motor limit. Sportfishing opportunities include bass, crappie, walleye, and muskie. Trailspring and Ozark Greenways have created natural surface trails for hiking, trail running, and mountain biking that brings visitors to the park. Amenities at Fellows Lake include picnic areas, playground equipment, pavilions, hiking trails, fishing docks, waterfowl blinds, and boat rentals. Many areas are handicapped accessible. All boats (motorized and non-motorized) require a day pass or annual permit to launch on Fellows Lake.

Fellows Lake is the primary reservoir of drinking water supply for the city of Springfield. While recreational opportunities are offered at the lake, protection of the water is and always will be the top priority. Each day, City Utilities and Watershed Committee of the Ozarks have no higher priority than to educate the public about its conservation initiatives for the water and natural systems surrounding the lake.

During a tour of the lake, Mike showed us the outfall pipe that distributes water from Stockton Lake to Fellows Lake. Stockton Lake water flows through the 30-mile, 36-inch-wide Nuccitelli pipeline that CU built in 1996 to help meet Springfield's future water needs. It pours into Fellows Lake on the north side of the lake, and CU then pumps Fellows Lake water to a treatment plant in town. At the time we were on Fellows, no water was pumping from Stockton Lake.

Mike then took us on a tour of the lake, and we even got in a little fishing. The fishing entailed the search for carp on a fly rod. Carp are very elusive, spooky, and difficult to catch on a fly rod. While David expertly drove the boat, Mike and Jerry were on the lookout for “mud puffs”, clouds of mud in the water from carp feeding on the lake bottom near the shore. During the search, they only found two carp. Although they casted many times to the fish, neither would take the fly.

The rest of the afternoon was spent touring the lake and listening to Mike tell of the efforts to protect the water quality. Many regulations are instituted at the lake to preserve the water quality such as only dawn to dusk use of the lake, no swimming, and limited boat horsepower. Other water quality efforts include taking measures to prevent invasive species such as zebra mussels and hydrilla plants in the lake.

Although no fish were caught, it was an enjoyable afternoon on a beautiful lake and very educational learning of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks water quality measures. Many thanks to Mike and his staff for their hospitality to us.

More information on the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks can be found at:
News and Events in the Ozarks!
2022 Shoreline Cleanup!!
Don't forget to register your team for the 22nd Annual Shoreline Cleanup! We will be sending out follow up emails to all who sign up in the coming weeks! Click the link below to Register your team!

Are you a business or do you know of a business that would like to sponsor this effort? We still have plenty of sponsorship opportunities, give us a call or email today!!
Sensory Experience at Bennett Spring State Park
JEFFERSON CITY, MO, AUG. 19, 2022 – Join naturalists at Bennett Spring State Park as they read a book inside a tent while participants learn about nature through a sensory experience.

The event will be held 11 – 11:30 a.m. on three Saturdays: Sept. 3, 10 and 17. Sensory experiences may include smells of nature, touching stuffed animals and crosscut wood, and other fun items. Participants will also gain team-building skills while learning how to set up a small tent. The focus will also include sharing with others and taking turns. All ages are welcome to participate.

Bennett Spring State Park is located at 26250 Highway 64A in Lebanon. For more information, call 417-532-4338. Participants should meet at the nature center.

For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Paddle MO KC 2022 with Stream Team
Join us for the inaugural Paddle MO KC 2022 program that will take you on a unique 3-day journey down 70 miles of the Missouri River from Atchison, KS to Kansas City. With lead on-water educators Bill and Jody Miles from Earth's Classroom, we will discover the river, get immersed in nature, see historic sites, and visit with experts along the way. The optional arrival day is Thursday, September 15th. The paddle will occur Friday-Sunday, September 16-18. If you arrive on Friday September 16th, you will need to check-in by 8:30 AM. 

Headquarters for Paddle MO KC 2022 will be at Heartland Retreat Center near Parkville, MO. Campsites are included with the basic trip reservation for Thursday and Saturday nights at Heartland Retreat Center. Friday night camping will be at Leavenworth, KS.
Trip registration is $350 per person. Your Paddle MO KC registration fee is for 3 days and includes three nights tent campsites, 7 meals, guided float, paddler's journal, entertainment, activities, educational opportunities, shuttles, and event t-shirt!

Quarterly Speaker Series
Shelly was the Quarterly Speaker Series speaker August 18 for Beaver Watershed Alliance where she presented on the UWRB Septic Remediation Program. If you missed the presentation here is your chance to watch it!

Grant Opportunity!
The Ozark Society Foundation (OSF) is soliciting proposals for a Youth Engagement Grant to local organizations that are working with students in environmental and conservation efforts. Grants will go to organizations who encourage students to engage environmental awareness and conservation in the Ozark and/or Ouachita regions. Successful projects range between $1,000 and $3,000 depending on the scope and needs of the project. Funds may be combined with other sources of funds to increase the size / impact of the project. To apply you must be affiliated with a 501c3 nonprofit or school located in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, as well as the Caddo, Bossier, Webster and Claiborne parishes of Louisiana.
Grant Timeline:      
· Applications open Monday August 29, 2022
· Deadline for applications is midnight on Saturday October 22, 2022
· Funds will be distributed in December 2022
· Grant checks must be deposited by January 1st, 2023
· Final grant reports will be due by Monday November 20, 2023.
You can direct questions about the grant or application to the head of the student engagement committee at:
Thank you to our Shoreline Cleanup sponsors!!
Table Rock Marina Association - The Harbor - Arvest Bank - Branson West Marine and Powersports - Central Bank of Branson - City of Branson - Cox Health - Diventures of Springfield - Dolly Parton's Stampede - Generations Bank - Lake30 - Missouri American Water - Silver Dollar City and Branson Belle - Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce - True Value Hardware Kimberling City - First Community Bank of the Ozarks - Great Southern Bank
The H2Ozarks Team
David Casaletto
Carin Love
Jerry Harman
Program Director
Erin Scott
Senior Policy and Program Director
Shelly Dare Smith
Arkansas Program Manager
Olivia Magnes
Outreach Coordinator