In 1986 the Cave entrance and the 25-acre wooded valley was donated to Western Kentucky University by its owners: WKU professor Dr. Raymond Cravens, WKU Physical Plant Administrator Owen Lawson and Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Highbaugh. The donation served as the springboard for the restoration and preservation of Lost River Cave and the surrounding natural environment.
A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, The Friends of the Lost River, Inc. (dba Lost River Cave) was incorporated in 1990 to facilitate the conservation and sustainability of the Cave and surrounding area. In the spring of 1999, visionary board member Dr. Nicholas Crawford, Director of WKU's Center for Cave and Karst Studies, convinced the board to build a dam inside the Cave with the aim of providing float tours of the interior. His idea was to generate funding for the conservation effort; his logic was along the lines of if we build it they will come.
In 2001, the threat of commercial development on land directly adjacent to the Cave and valley compelled the Friends organization to pursue protection of that land as well. Drawing on support from the City Commission and the Greenways Commission of Bowling Green and Warren County, an additional 42 acres was purchased. Since then, acquisition of additional parcels has expanded the park to 70-acres that offers trails, wetlands, meadows and a restored prairie.
Today, the income from the underground boat tour, gift shop and event rentals sustain the ongoing work to preserve and maintain Lost River Cave as a cultural and natural landmark. Local visitors to the park may decide to purchase a park membership, make a donation or volunteer service hours to contribute to the Friends' mission.
To enrich our community by providing nature experiences, education, and stewardship of Lost River Cave.
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