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snagel
12-29-2007, 21:07
12/29/07

Arrived at Bennett Springs shortly after 10:00 a.m. SteveC and his brother Jim (The Clubbs), arrived shortly there after. As I waited, I walked around the spring. Fog was still rising off the water - kinda an awesome sight. The water was very clear and had a bluish tint to it. For those who are not familiar with Bennett Springs, it is located in southern central Missouri near the town of Lebanon, MO. Bennett Springs is a state park dedicated primarly to trout fishing. During the season, the stream is typically wall to wall with fisherman. During the winter months, they allow divers into the spring, but you do have to make a reservation with the park.

The plan was to drive my motorhome down and park it along the spring. This would give a warm place to be during the surface interval. When the Clubbs arrived we started putting together our warming hut - a good place to store our gear and warm us up after the dive.

This was the first time any of us dove the spring. I have to tell you I really didn't know what to expect. Basically, the spring is a shaft that drops about 80 feet into what is called "the popcorn room". As I understand it, when the flow is just right it picks up rocks from the bottom and tosses them giving it the "popcorn popping" effect. Unfortionately, we really didn't notice this.

The surface temp was about 35 degrees when we entered the water. The water temp was around 57 degrees. We all wore 7mm westsuits with hooded vests underneath. I expected to get really cold, but oddly, I felt fine. As we ascended we quickly found the opening to the spring. The water was very blue and had a lot of trout hanging out. This reminded me so much of a cenote that we had visited in Mexico. As we dropped to about 25 feet we seen the opening to the shaft. As published in other posts, we found the line on the right side. We slowly made our way to the entrance into the shaft. I can tell you I was a little nervous entering the "black hole". As we decended farther and farther the water was very clear and there was a small current. Nothing too bad, but if you remained still it would push you back. We finally came to the end of the line; which, found us in a small "room" if you will. At the far end of the room was a small opening where the water was coming from. The Clubbs both took turns seeing if we could go further. At this point, I was thinking we were about 1/2 way down, but a quick check of my spg showed we were at 80 feet. Wow, no thermocline, so I kinda loss track of how deep we were. We were in the infamous "pop corn room". We played around a short bit and then started to make our ascent. We surfaced and noticed that we had drawn a crowd of onlookers. Since we still had about 1/2 a tank left, we again descended down to the opening of the "cavern" and played around with all the trout that were hanging out with us.

All in all, a very good dive. Water crystal clear. Some current, but nothing too bad. Water temp was fine - even with wetsuits. Although, we did start getting a little chilly toward the end. I would recommend this dive. It is probably the clearest water I've seen in Missouri. Viz was 50+.

Checkout my album linked below for pictures of the dive. Sorry, no pictures of the "pop corn room" too dark and pictures didn't come out. Cummings actually has posted a very nice video of the popcorn room.

S. Nagel

Lineman Larry
12-30-2007, 09:28
Great report.

Definitely have to make this dive this winter.

Kokomo
12-30-2007, 09:46
Great pictures. Glad you had a good time. Too bad you can't dive it in the summer.

cummings66
12-31-2007, 08:52
It is a great dive, I just got back from diving it Sunday and had a blast. I've got to get my photo's downloaded from the camera and uploaded to the webpage. Plus I've got to fill my tanks so I can do it again Tomorrow.

I think it's going to be a bit colder tomorrow.

Both my buddies managed to get wet on the dive, one drysuit zipper repair leaked a bit and the others neck seal leaked a LOT. Boy did Kevin get cold.

The flow was 50 million gallons yesterday, much less than the normal amount of 100 million, but then it lets you see things you normally couldn't see.

I'm glad you had a good dive and enjoyed yourself.

snagel
12-31-2007, 09:06
Absolutely, great dive. Cummings you're a madman. By the way, the suits that leaked weren't DUI suits by chance (just joking).

Have a good time, again. If I didn't already have family committments, I would almost join you on New Years.

S. Nagel

skdvr
12-31-2007, 11:52
Thanks for the report....

Do you have to be cave or cavern certified to make this dive???

Phil

snagel
12-31-2007, 12:05
Nope, I think Cummings posted that you needed AOW. But, when we talked to the park office they said, just needed the OW Certification - not really sure which is correct.

Although it looks confined, I guess in some circles it isn't a true cave dive. If you try and go past the popcorn room, then you get into needing cave experience.

It's really just a long shaft and if needed you can swim right out.

S. Nagel

skdvr
12-31-2007, 13:18
SWEET, I think I may have to check it out. So do you get a couple of dive in with out seeing the same thing, or is it kind of like being in a big pool with fish, just go down and play around?

Phil

cummings66
12-31-2007, 14:56
The paperwork says AOW, but the people there only care to see a cert card as far as I can tell.

As to seeing new things every dive, not exactly unless you mean that the fish move to a new spot.

I found a copperhead there on my dive, the snake looks to have been dead for a while, say a blind fish, some interesting Sculpin, and some nice new holes I missed before.

I think for me the interest lies in taking photo's of the fish and rocks, plus the fact that it's fun. I got 106 feet max depth on my dives yesterday and for the most part a cavern can be said to be boring if you're not interested in geology or fish.

I enjoy both so it's a fun dive for me, but I could see getting bored pretty easy.

cummings66
12-31-2007, 14:58
Absolutely, great dive. Cummings you're a madman. By the way, the suits that leaked weren't DUI suits by chance (just joking).

How did you know? Actually it's not a fault with the suit, it was just a bad seal. The suit is old, I think he said maybe 10 or 15 years old. The other was a Viking of similar vintage, so neither leak meant anything other than the diver got cold. In Kevin's case he was shivering pretty bad.

texdiveguy
12-31-2007, 15:02
I have never dove the spring...in general how big is the area for diving?

cummings66
12-31-2007, 15:32
It's not huge and the size varies, but in general you can count on the opening being about 20 feet or so I'd guess, the inside is what changes in size because the rock will deposit here and there. It's big enough to easily take 4 people side by side, but the cavern is limited to 6 people per day.

You don't feel cramped at all, and in fact I kind of think it's roomy compared to some places I've explored. It can IMO be dangerous for a solo diver (which isn't allowed) but with a buddy it's pretty safe.

skdvr
12-31-2007, 15:40
Well I am going to have to check it out. I will be hanging out with my main dive buddy tonight so I am sure that we will talk about it. Sounds interesting to me. I like to just watch fish and look at rocks too. No camera though, would be fun to check out though. Is there a website that has their rules and regs on it. I thought that I heard something onetime about having to have surface surport while you are diving? Maybe I misunderstood.

Thanks for the info...

Phil

texdiveguy
12-31-2007, 16:00
It's not huge and the size varies, but in general you can count on the opening being about 20 feet or so I'd guess, the inside is what changes in size because the rock will deposit here and there. It's big enough to easily take 4 people side by side, but the cavern is limited to 6 people per day.

You don't feel cramped at all, and in fact I kind of think it's roomy compared to some places I've explored. It can IMO be dangerous for a solo diver (which isn't allowed) but with a buddy it's pretty safe.


Thanks for that insight....will have to hit it on a road trip NE.

whse56
12-31-2007, 16:40
Sounds like a very cool dive site, is the water that clear year round. If so it would really be cool to dive it in warmer weather, too bad you can't.

cummings66
12-31-2007, 17:19
My web page is currently going through an update to get the new photo's on it, but it would give you an idea of what it's like. I hope to have it uploaded by bedtime tonight. Making some changes in format that required deleting pretty much everything and redoing it to get the folder layout by date.

Diving Photos (http://www.mcmsys.com/~cummings/diving)

The rules to my knowledge are not posted, they're about 6 pages long but boil down to requiring gear appropriate for diving it and having a support person on the surface. 6 people max per day, and the season is restricted to November to February I think.

You sign in at the Nature center, they will copy your cert card so make sure you have it on hand. You don't take anything in that you don't take back out with you, and it was pointed out that rakes and shovels to clean it up are not permitted. Really, somebody tried that.

It does not silt up during the dive, but the vis isn't always what it is right now. It has been chocolate mile before. Generally good though, but does depend a bit on the weather, major storms would of course mean less vis.

So far it's very clean and pristine, the dive has been very enjoyable every time I've been there.

snagel
01-01-2008, 13:07
Don't forget that you have to make reservations. This has been hit and miss for us. Sometimes when we call they are booked for several weeks and other times they are open. If you planning a dive, I recommend at least 2 weeks prior to be calling for the reservation - more if you can. However, you might get lucky. We've made reservations a couple times, prior to this dive, but canceled due to weather (Yes, we weenied out).

On our dive, we went to the nature center twice, but nobody was there. We went to the Park Store, they referred us back to the nature center. After about an hour of trying to hook up with whoever we needed to see to check in, we gave up and went diving. Park Rangers drove by us all day long and didn't seem to care that we were diving. But, we had reservations, we just couldn't get checked in.

S. Nagel

SteveC
01-01-2008, 14:21
Here is the diving policy from Bennett Springs. It's not alway clear, as it covers several topics, but it does say on page 2 paragraph 7 that "As an open water diver, additional training in cave diving is preferred but not required." So as of now at least A.O.W. is not required.
We had a great time on this dive, but it is just one shaft going down and there is not much of a spring pool up top, so each dive will be much the same as the next. With that said, I would still highly recomend it to everyone. I would say the vis is a good 50 feet right now and the flow is low making it a really nice dive.





Policy:
P05 Diving in State Parks
Section:
P. Permits and Special Use Guidelines

Issued:
Original 01/03/98 1 of 4

Revised:
01/03/98

Page:
1 of 4


The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for the regulation of diving in certain deepwater springs and in certain waters under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources', Division of State Parks.

Scientific Diving: Cold-water springs, submerged caves and other ecologically-sensitive waters.

Deep, cold water springs at Bennett Spring, Roaring River, Rock Bridge Memorial and Ha Ha Tonka state parks are important scenic and scientific water resources. Roaring River and Bennett Spring state parks are the source of water for two of Missouri's most popular trout fisheries. Because of the importance of these resources, it is necessary to control their use by the public. Diving at Roaring River and Ha Ha Tonka will be permitted only for scientific and interpretive purposes. This restriction is due to the physical location of and structural make up of these resources. In addition, little is known about the natural and cultural features of these spring resources.

Bennett Spring had been investigated in the past and comprehensive information is known about the resources and physical structure of this spring area. Recreational diving is allowed subject to the guidelines listed under recreational diving.

Guidelines for diving for scientific purposes in caves or springs on Missouri State Parks



1) Normally, no more than two diving parties conducting separate research will be permitted within a calendar year. However, additional dives may be made at the discretion of the director of the Operations and Resource Management Program. Each request is treated as a scientific research application, whether for mapping underwater cave features; collecting biological, geological, or cultural information; or taking photographs for use in interpretive exhibits or programs. The director of the Operations and Resource Management Program is authorized to approve the scientific research application that must be filed with that same program in Jefferson City, Missouri. The scientific research application, when approved, serves as the permit, with additional information constituting conditions to be attached as specified.

2) Diving is permitted in Roaring River, Ha Ha Tonka, Rock Bridge Memorial and Bennett
Spring state parks for scientific and interpretive purposes only, except that recreational diving is permitted in Bennett Spring from November 1 through the end of February. Those interested in scientific research must fill out a Missouri State Parks Scientific Research Application and send it to the director of the Operations and Resource Management Program. The park superintendent and respective district office are responsible for ensuring that divers adhere to all guidelines and procedures described in this policy once the research application is approved.



P05 - DIVING IN STATE PARKS

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3) Research permits for diving in springs and caves will be limited to those persons conducting research or interpretive studies, or diving at the request of the division. A written proposal describing the work to be done must be provided at the time of application for permit. The specific location of the dive must be recorded on the application. Copies of credentials may be required to support the ability of the applicant to perform the research. Letters of reference may also be required. Priority is given to research or interpretive objectives as follows:

a) Collecting or recording of plants or animals with emphasis given to invertebrates (most vertebrates are recorded).

b) Professional underwater photography including 35 mm slides or video camera from which copies are used for displays, slide shows, etc. (not for personal use).

c) Cave mapping of geologic formations, structural profiles, etc.

d) Collecting of cultural artifacts or geologic materials as specified by the division.

4) Any material or equipment introduced into the cave must be removed upon completion of the permitted dive.

5) Any material that may be of cultural, historic or archaeological significance may not be disturbed without authorization set forth in the permit. Material recovered with authorization must be given to the division for disposition and will remain the property of the division until released. The obvious exception would be the removal of trash of a non-cultural nature.

6) Two copies of any study, research, photos or slides must be provided to the division upon conclusion of the permitted dive. Other directions as specified relevant to the research objective may be provided by the district office or Operations and Resource Management Program.

7) Divers entering only the cavern zone (the area of the cave or spring where daylight is visible from the entrance), must be trained and currently certified by a major scuba diving certification agency (Professional Association of Diving Instructors, National Association Underwater Instructors, National Association Scuba Diving Schools, Scuba Schools International, Young Men's Christian Association, etc.). As an open water diver, additional training in cave diving is preferred but not required. Copies of certifications for each diver must be provided with original application.

Cavern divers must have the following equipment, in addition to standard dive gear:

a) At least two lights per diver.








P05 - DIVING IN STATE PARKS

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b) Octopus regulator or alternate air source for each diver.
c) Submersible pressure gauge for each diver.
d) One guideline and reel for each group. The "one-third"-air rule must be observed on all cavern dives.
e) No person dives alone.
f) One person remains out of water at the cave or spring entrance to notify anyone in case of emergency.

8) Divers entering the cave zone (the area of the cave beyond the reach of daylight) must be trained and currently certified as cave divers by either the National Speleological Society/Cave Division Section or the National Association of Cave Divers. Copies of certifications for each diver must be provided with the original application. Special equipment required will be as specified by the certification agency.

9) Divers must specify exact time and dates of diving activity(s), which are subject to revision by the District Office. The park superintendent or park staff must be notified in advance of the scheduled dive and upon arrival of the diving group in the park.

10) The dive team will consist of no more than four persons unless otherwise approved in the permit in special cases.


Recreational and Stream Diving

Diving in some areas within state park boundaries is restricted to preserve the area's natural state, for public safety, or to prevent conflicts with other users. Diving in the following areas is authorized by the respective park superintendent providing divers follow policy guidelines and specific instructions as given by the superintendent.

State Park Waters
Cuivre River Lake Lincoln
St. Joe Monsanto, Pim, Jo Lee, Apollo lakes
Elephant Rocks All quarries except one next to Braille Trail
Johnson's Shut-Ins Deep pools in shut-ins
Sam A Baker Big Creek
Van Meter Quarry
Bennett Spring Spring and spring branch (December through February 28)

The district supervisor approves other waters after consulting with the director, Operations and Resource Management.






P05 - DIVING IN STATE PARKS

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Guidelines

Recreational Diving in Bennett Spring State Park:

1) Recreational diving is permitted from November 1 through the end of February. The park Nature Center grants permission, who must ensure that divers receive a copy of the written guidelines of this policy in advance so that respective divers are aware of them.

2) No more than six persons will be permitted to dive in Bennett Spring on one day.

3) All guidelines listed above for scientific diving apply for recreational diving excepting items 1, 2, and 3.

4) Contact the Bennett Spring Nature Center for details and to reserve a dive slot. They can be reached at 417-532-3925 or by email at: bennett.spring.nature.center@dnr.mo.gov

Diving in the Trout Glen at Ha Ha Tonka State Park and in all cold water spring branches if for scientific purposes only as approved by the Operations Resource Management Program.

Diving in those lakes under the administration of Union Electric, Corps of Engineers or city of Kirksville (Forest Lake) is approved through those respective authorities, or as specified in their regulations.

Individuals wishing to dive in areas under department jurisdiction must show proof of training and certification by a major scuba diving certification agency (Professional Association of Diving Instructors, National Association Underwater Instructors, National Association Scuba Diving Schools, Scuba Schools International, Young Men's Christian Association, etc.) at the time of application.

Persons diving in these areas must observe the following regulations in addition to normal park regulations.

1) Disturb the area as little as possible and preserve its natural state.

2) No collecting of biological or geological specimens or samples is permitted without prior
approval for scientific purposes.

3) Any cultural, historic or archaeological artifacts must be left undisturbed and reported to the
division. An exception would be the removal and disposal of trash of a non-cultural nature.

4) Diving will occur during daylight hours only with at least two divers per dive. Specific hours,
days and seasons will vary according to other recreational uses of respective waters, and will be determined by respective park superintendents under the advisement of the district office.

5) Flag regulations will apply in those waters where boat operators are present, such as Lake
Lincoln.




P05 - DIVING IN STATE PARKS

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skdvr
01-01-2008, 15:50
Thanks for posting the regulations.

Phil

beperkins
10-14-2008, 13:15
Recreational and Stream Diving

Diving in some areas within state park boundaries is restricted to preserve the area's natural state, for public safety, or to prevent conflicts with other users. Diving in the following areas is authorized by the respective park superintendent providing divers follow policy guidelines and specific instructions as given by the superintendent.

State Park Waters
Cuivre River Lake Lincoln
St. Joe Monsanto, Pim, Jo Lee, Apollo lakes
Elephant Rocks All quarries except one next to Braille Trail
Johnson's Shut-Ins Deep pools in shut-ins
Sam A Baker Big Creek
Van Meter Quarry
Bennett Spring Spring and spring branch (December through February 28




Does this mean that diving is allowed in the stream? I am planning a dive here this fall and wonder if you can drift dive the stream. I know that it would be almost snorkeling but still might be fun. While cavern diving we use the rule of thirds and always energe from the cavern with 1500 psi or so air left so this might be an oppurtunity to see something a little different with your remaining air after doing a couple of cavern dives. Your required surface support person could just watch your bubbles and drive a pickup downstream to pick everyone up at the end of the dive to avoid walking. BTW watch out for the spillover dam about a 1/3 mile downstream from the spring basin or else you will qualify for the new PADI specialty: Shoot the Chute!!!!

SteveC
10-14-2008, 20:41
Yes, I believe you can dive the stream. I'm not sure if it would be worth it or not. If you do it, let us know.

beperkins
10-17-2008, 08:32
I will do it Nov 15th when I am there. Just thought it might be a fun waste of the last of a tank. And freak out the tourists. By the way, how do you know it IS allowed, did you call. I have a hard time getting ahold of them.

shawnwill36
10-30-2008, 10:53
great story, thanks for sharing