In early 2007 the OCDA was requested to assist with a biodiversity survey of Hell Creek Cave Natural Area. This included obtaining wildlife samples for DNA analysis, and then returning these organisms back into their habitat.
This area has two entrances; an upstream shaft entrance and a downstream entrance into a natural cave. The first attempt to explore Hell Creek was through the natural cave entrance which involved getting equipment for a two man dive team a half mile downstream to the entrance, and then to the Dipping Vat sump area within the cave system. From that staging area the dive team entered the sump to conduct the biodiversity survey and return with samples for the science team.
After attempting the natural entrance the team headed back to a shaft area where Madison County Search and Rescue team had rigged the shaft for lowering gear and divers to the next staging area. The dive team planned to head upstream through several sumps to continue to conduct the survey. Samples of crayfish can be found in the following pictures. It would be interesting to see if these critters were the same species as those found in the nearby Nesbitt Cave.
We would like to thank the Madison County Rescue group for their professional expertise in rigging the shaft entrance. These folks went beyond the call in getting divers, support crew, and equipment in and out of the system.