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Stairs lead down into the cave entrance
Stairs lead down into the Historic Entrance of Mammoth Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park
NPS Photo / Deb Spillman
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NPF Grant Helps Reduce Waste in Mammoth Cave National Park

New Forklift Will Help Divert Thousands of Pounds from Landfills
By Rebecca Watson

Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park is essentially two parks in one – the park protects an underground labyrinth that makes up the world’s longest known cave system, as well as the rolling hills, deciduous forests, and the Green River Valley. Thanks to a grant from the National Park Foundation (NPF), the park’s recycling program is helping protect both environments through the purchase of a new forklift.

The unique ecosystems in the park support wildlife both aboveground and subsurface so it’s important to keep the park and its groundwater clean to maintain this delicate balance. The park’s recycling program has made great strides doing so in recent years. During the last four years, the park has recycled over 101,000 pounds of recyclable materials, diverting those items from local landfills.

A wooden boardwalk leads through the forest.
Mammoth Cave National Park (NPS Photo / Kait Evensen)
A trail lined with handrails leads deeper into the cave
A trail leads deeper into the cave at Mammoth Cave National Park (NPS Photo / David Kem)

The park’s recycling program relies heavily on its use of a forklift to move heavy recycling bins throughout the park and to load the recycling trailer when the park is ready for a trip to the recycling facilities. Because the park is so remote, the park bails collected plastics, metals, and cardboard before transporting them to the nearest recycling center, and to do so park staff need a forklift. The park’s current forklift is old – finding replacement parts is difficult and delays for maintenance are starting to negatively impact the recycling program. This can result in recycling containers overflowing and people tossing their recyclables in the trash.

Thanks to a grant from NPF, the park has purchased a new forklift and soon their recycling program will be able to operate more smoothly and efficiently. Additionally, the grant will help pay two seasonal park employees to assist with the program. Ultimately the park will be able to increase the amount of materials recycled each year, helping protect Mammoth Cave National Park’s delicate ecosystems.

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