Thursday, January 23, 2003

State goal is cleaner air over Mammoth Cave

How to do it still being worked out

The Associated Press

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky. - State environmental officials are hoping to improve the hazy skies that hang around Mammoth Cave National Park.

The state Department of Environmental Protection wants improvement in visibility at the park by 2010, though details of how to get there are still in the works.

"We're currently working on the implementation portion of the plan," said Lona Brewer, program planning branch manager for the department's Air Quality Division. "We used several different methods to determine the goals for the plan and now it's going to take us a little while to determine how best to work toward those goals."

The division's long-term goal is to improve visibility at the park by three deciviews by 2010, said Ms. Brewer.

A deciview is based on surveys of how people see distant objects, said Bob Carson, Mammoth Cave's air-quality specialist. The higher the deciview number, the lower the visibility.

Currently, the park is running at about 30 deciviews during the summer, and on clean days it goes down to around 15, Mr. Carson said.

Mammoth Cave ranked third on a list of the state's most polluted parks in a study released last fall by three national environmental activist groups. Hazy skies were cited in the report as a primary reason for the low ranking.

"Some of the haziest skies in America hang over Mammoth Cave, but that pollution does more than ruin views of distant ridges," said Jill Stephens, program coordinator for the National Parks Conservation Association's Southeast regional office.

Environmentalists are worried that a proposed coal-fired power plant nearby would further pollute Mammoth's skies.

Peabody Energy is developing the 1,500-megawatt plant in Muhlenberg County, just 50 miles west of the park.

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