O & G Industries operates a crushed rock and sand operation at its limestone quarry in New Milford, Connecticut. Now the company is working with the US Federal Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to build a new hibernaculum for bats at the quarry.
It will replace an abandoned mineshaft that has become ecologically important for bats. It is one of the few hibernaculums not infected with a fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, which has been killing bats at an alarming rate in the eastern United States.
Ken Faroni, O & G’s director of planning and permits, discussed the work on the new hibernaculum, which is in planning stages with the town?s zoning commission. O&G has applied for a three-year extension on its mining permit.
The concept is to create a new mine shaft in the quarry which those bats can use during the cold months of the year.
Bats may loom large in vampire and comic book hero mythology as winged, pinch-faced mammals of the night but they are an important part of the state’s wildlife.
They are the most important predators of insects. One little brown bat can eat 1200 insects an hour.
But since 2006-07, bat populations in the eastern United States have been decimated by white-nosed syndrome, which is a fungal disease that can leave bats with a tell tale patch of white fungus on their faces and wings. It first appeared in New York State and has killed millions of bats, according to the National Wildlife Health Center.
For whatever reason, the mineshaft in New Milford has remained fungus-free.
Humans started carving out the bat home a long ago. Lisa Roush, curator of the New Milford Historical Society, said the Charles E Griffin Lime Co opened on the site in 1893. It quarried the marble deposits.
A catastrophic fire closed it in 1897 and in 1902 the New England Lime Co bought the site and began its operations. One of those companies created the now abandoned shaft the bats call home.
The area is part of the Marble Valley, a geological structure featuring marble deposits that run to the Massachusetts border.
Sources: Greenwich Time, Aggman