Perry Co. MO caves to be featured in documentary

The caves and sinkholes are unlike most in Missouri.
The caves and sinkholes are unlike most in Missouri.(KFVS)
Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 6:47 PM CDT
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PERRYVILLE, Mo. (KFVS) - Perry County Missouri has some of the longest caves in the state and more than 300 sinkholes.

Those unique features are currently being highlighted in a documentary.

The documentary explains how Perry County residents came together to solve a problem with their water quality in sinkholes.

”At one time we didn’t always treat the sinkholes as the resource that they are,” Perryville City Administrator Brent Buerck said.

Buerck explained that negatively impacted cave life for many years.

“They were bubbly, and they smelled of chemicals and there was trash and waste in there,” Buerck said.

Perryville city leaders found some ways to help improve the water quality so cave life could thrive.

“One of the biggest things we can do is put vegetative buffers around the hole itself so by putting vegetation there whether its grass or native plants, we’ve done both but it helps cleanse the water,” he said.

These cages around the sinkholes help filter out debris and trash.

The documentary entitled ‘Karst in Perry County’ shows researchers revisiting the caves after more 20 years.

“When they got in it was a completely different experience, it was teaming with wildlife and the water was clean and the smells were gone and the waste was no longer seen so it was a great experience for us and it really validated a lot of the efforts we made,” he said.

Denise Vaughn produced the documentary and explained why the limestone formations in Perry County are different than in most places around the state.

“You’ve got that sinkhole plain, it’s about 100 square miles or more where there’s thousands of sinkholes, it forms a whole alternative storm drainage system,” Henderson Vaughn said.

“This is not normal and it’s really cool and special.”

If you don’t know much about what’s underground in Perry County, you’ll learn a lot from the documentary.

“This video tells about how Perry County residents have adapted to their unusual geology, it talks about the geology itself explaining about the many sinkholes and the underground streams and how that change makes Perry County so different,” she said.

“We’re putting signs up now that are going to explain the sinkholes and the history of the caves. Anything you throw on the ground goes somewhere whether it’s to the river or in our caves or sinkhole, so you want to be careful. You want to protect what the good lord gave us and so we can have it for the next generation,” Buerck said.

The Karst in Perry County documentary is set to air at 11:30 am Sunday on PBS.

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