Previously published in the
National Cave Conservancies Issues program and the
National Speleological Society began in 1941 as a collective of individuals
interested in caves and caving. From the beginning, we recognized the need to
protect the fragile and timeless environment underground. Conservation has
always been a prime tenet of the foundations of the
the 40's and 50's, the Society was concerned about other peoples' caves. With the rising environmentalism of the 60's,
Each Management Committee has overall responsibility for
the upkeep, security, and general well being of the property. As with most
Cave Preserves of the National Speleological Society
W. Gary Bush, Cave Preserves Committee Chair
Preserve Name County State Acres Status Date Acquired
McFails Cave Preserve Schoharie NY 2 Owned
Hill Karst Preserve
Schoharie Caverns Preserve
* Managed for the Felburn Foundation
Alachua Sink Preserve
late 1992 and early 1993, the
Barton Hill Karst Preserve
Schoharie County, New York, the Barton Hill Karst Preserve is 12 miles east of
Three caves exist on the property: Gage Caverns (historically known as Balls Cave), Keyhole Cave, and Greene’s Cave. Discovered in 1831 by Peter Ball, Gage Caverns is one of the oldest known caves in the state of New York with over 3,000 feet of mapped passage. During early exploration, most of its formations were removed and shipped around the United States to adorn the collections of practical geologists and state museums.
James Gage donated the Preserve to the National Speleological Foundation in December of 1987. The NSF deeded the property to the National Speleological Society in 1996. Members of the National Speleological Society manage the Preserve and the caves for recreation and education. All individuals wishing to gain access must obtain permission from the committee and sign a release form.
Donald R. Russell Cave Preserve
Mr. Don Russell donated two tracts of land in Adair County, Oklahoma to the
Because this property was acquired with the purpose of establishing a biological preserve and human visitation would be detrimental to the survival of the bat populations, no visitation is allowed. This is a continuation of the long-standing policy of the previous owner.
Great Expectations Cave (Great X) Preserve
Great Expectations contains almost 8 miles of surveyed passage with a vertical extent of over 1,400 feet. It is the third deepest limestone cave in the United States, the second deepest cave in Wyoming, and the second longest cave in Wyoming. Great Expectations Cave contains Wyoming's largest room, The Great Hall, which is over 2,000 feet long and up to 100 feet high and wide. Great X is located at 8,500 feet elevation on a pristine creek in the Big Horn Mountains, east of Greybull in Big Horn County, Wyoming.
The creek sinks into the cave at the entrance and reappears approximately six miles down the canyon, near the Lower entrance to the cave, the Great Exit. The Great Exit, near the "Grim Crawl of Death," is on federal land managed by the US Bureau of Land Management. This high altitude karst area contains several other significant caves including Tres Charros Cave, Bad Medicine Cave, and P-Bar Cave.
The Society intends that
In 1983 the
The cave preserve committee manages the cave preserve with goals of encouraging bat hibernation re-establishment and preservation of the paleontological sites, as well as continued recreational caving.
Kingston Saltpeter Cave Preserve
The Kingston Saltpeter Cave Preserve in Bartow County, Georgia, is composed of 40 acres of largely hardwood forest, underlain by a variety of wildflowers and mosses. The area is teeming with wildlife. The Preserve is located almost entirely on and along the flanks of a large isolated dolomite knob, providing an incredible vista in all directions. Outcroppings of the Knox series of dolomite are found, along with an array of multicolored agates. The focal point of the Preserve is the Kingston Saltpeter Cave.
In late 1983
the Felburn Foundation acquired the property in order to preserve, maintain,
and protect it for future generations.
committee of the
McFails Cave Preserve
New York’s McFails Cave in Schoharie County, with over 6.7 miles of mapped passage, is the longest cave in the northeastern United States. Managing this cave is the job of the McFails Cave Committee. The committee makes sure that the parking area and the trails at the McFails Cave Preserve are maintained through the use of gates at the two entrances.
Schoharie Caverns Preserve
Mary and Jennifer Gage donated Schoharie Caverns and the surrounding 13 acres in 1994. This location, in Schoharie County, NY, has been a central base for caving since the 1950's.
Schoharie Cave is over 4,000 feet long, with half of that length beyond a scuba dive sump. A total of five sumps have been penetrated. The part of the cave accessible without scuba equipment is primarily a single vadose canyon, consisting of 2,000 feet of walking passage, with ceiling heights from 10 to 80 feet. This is a wet, difficult cave with a temperature of 45 degrees. Bob Addis chairs the Preserve Committee.
is located directly beneath the
to Shelta Cave is gated, but access is open to
Preserve is located in Sinking Valley, Blair County, Pennsylvania, between the
cities of Tyrone and Altoona (hence the name).
This is the 10th and newest cave preserve owned by the
Tytoona has been noted as one of the most significant caves in the state. Rich with history that dates back to 1788, it has been mentioned in early publications and county maps. Two attempts in the past (1947 and 1972) to commercialize the cave were short-lived and today little or no trace can be found of those early business ventures.
This cave contains about a mile of trunk passage, divided by water sumps, and a few large dry rooms. In one of the sump-protected rooms, very significant formations exist. Mother Nature protects this area of the cave through sumps; only those qualified in cave sump diving are allowed to enter.
The downstream portion of the cave system exits at Arch Spring. The Arch is privately owned and not located on the Tytoona Cave Preserve property. However, permission can be obtained to visit this site from the landowner.
Perhaps one of Tytoona’s greatest strengths is its educational and recreational value. This cave has been host to many youth groups, college students, and cavers as an educational tool to teach and learn about caves, caving, and conservation. The first 1,000 feet of passage offers easy caving. A well-known natural landmark, Tytoona has an exceptionally attractive entrance along with photogenic qualities of the landscape, making it a popular site.
The property is to be managed as a natural area. The management consists of a chief director and cave committee. Visitors are reminded to use only the established trails on the property. Visitors are allowed daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Warren Cave Preserve
Conservancy donated Warren Cave in Alachua County, Florida to the
Warren Cave is the longest known dry cave in Florida with over four miles of mapped passage. The cave is presently gated but visitation is allowed.
In January 2003, the Wells Cave Preserve became the 10th
cave property owned by the
Wells Cave Preserve consists of 3 acres and includes 2 entrances to a historically, geologically, and biologically significant 11.5 mile-long cave. The cave also serves as an educational tool for those interested in speleogenesis, paleo-climates and hydrology, and cave management. This cave has attracted many people into joining caving organizations, not just for its recreational, but also the scientific value. It is well visited and well known to the community.
The Management policy is to continue with past practice of allowing people on the property with minimum restrictions. Restrictions are only for reasons of better management, and to protect the property through recommendations of the Management Committee.
The Management Committee is responsible for enforcing
In October 2003, the Potter Unit Cave Preserve was
accepted by the
an alternative to ownership or direct management, the Society generally prefers
to award grants and/or provide other support to cave conservancies to assist in
their efforts to protect caves and karst resources. Grant requests will be
evaluated by the same criteria, with the exception of national significance, as
properties considered for
Proposals and Management
Plans will include information and rationale as described in Appendix Z of
Criteria for Cave Ownership and Procedures to follow when considering
Cave and Karst Acquisitions Committee Chairman will evaluate the Proposal and
Management Plan to determination if the proposed cave property acquisition
the cave property does not meet these criteria, it will not be given further
purchase proposal and management plan shall be formally presented to the
Donation of the property to the
Obtaining a conservation easement for the property
current owner will continue to own and use the property, subject to the terms
of a Conservation Easement held by the
Lease of property to the
This could be considered if an
Direct purchase by an
The property has national significance, by being
outstanding in one or more of the categories by which caves are measured or
evaluated: size, length, depth, biota, and/or geological, cultural or historic
value. Regardless of the particular measure that is used, the screening
criteria would require that the cave's values of interest to the
property has outstanding examples of a broad class of caves or karstlands in a
given category. The property must contain certain features or values that are
considered excellent representative examples of these features, and that would
add value and variety to the portfolio of property owned by the
Procedures to Follow when Considering
a proposal for acquiring or leasing a cave or karst property has met the
These requirements shall also be evaluated when evaluating a grant proposal.
one or more appraisals to determine the value of the property. The presence of
a cave does not make a property more valuable, regardless of how desirable it
may be to the
can be important negotiating tools. The
Offers should be made contingent upon a survey that provides evidence that the cave and/or its entrance are included on the property to be purchased.
Establish whether the asking price is the fair market value of the property.
the total expenses of the purchase, and endeavor to obtain the property for the
lowest price possible. Consider closing costs, survey expenses, legal fees,
taxes, and the expenses of the
if the expenditure is within the financial resources available to the
whether a portion of the property with lesser interest to the
the case of a donated property that may not meet the
the source of funds for the acquisition expenses, and evaluate the effect of
the expenditure on the ability of the
to consider for funding include: the
Evaluate and calculate the costs to improve and maintain the property. Consider utilities, gates, structures, mowing, road grading, fences, taxes and insurance.
Determine the Society’s liability under the recreation use and landowner protection statutes of the state where the property is located.
the liability risks for the
Inventory any hazards on the property or in the cave. These may include: pits, unstable terrain, hazardous wastes, lakes, buildings, bridges, wells, trash dumps. Determine whether these will have an impact on insurance coverage. Consider obtaining an environmental assessment of the property.
If there is any possibility that there has been hazardous or special waste disposal on the property, a Phase 1 Investigation should be conducted prior to closing. In this case, no offer should be made unless it is contingent upon hazardous or special waste not being present on the property.
Assess and consider the neighborhood around the proposed acquisition, and its possible effects on the cave and property, its ecosystem, the safety and enjoyment of the visitors to the property, and the success of the property as a nature preserve.
Important factors include: neighbors and their activities and interests, commercial development, zoning regulations, possible uses of adjacent land, and previous uses of the property.
Determine if the Society is prepared to deal with the burdens that ownership of the property may present.
consultation with the
All closings shall have a title search performed and title insurance will be purchased.
Assess the Management Plan accompanying the Proposal for feasibility, suitability and effectiveness. The Management Plan should identify individuals or group committed to implementing the plan.
Consider the suitability of the group or individual expected to manage the property.
Determine if the neighbors are willing to contribute to the management or protection of the cave.
consequences, if any, of the
For example: consider other possible owners and uses of the land, and the effects on the cave and its environment, both positive and negative.
Before a decision is reached, these benefits should be carefully weighed against the monetary costs and potential risks associated with cave ownership.
benefits to the
The cave may contain outstanding and/or unique biological resources that are worthy of protection and scientific study; substantial and unusual speleothems or minerals also worthy of protection and study; or cultural, historical, and/or archeological values that should be conserved.
Purchasing the cave demonstrates our commitment to the conservation of these resources.
The cave may be viewed as an underground laboratory where substantial science has been and continues to be conducted. For example, it may contain a significant population of invertebrates being studied by biologists, have a complex hydrological regime, be developed in an unusual or unique geological setting, or be mineralogically rich or unusual.
of the cave by the
cave may represent a significant local or regional recreational resource that
would be lost to the caving community, if not acquired by the
is not a charter purpose of the
of a cave property may present an opportunity for the
For example, non-caving groups could be taken to the cave and taught about cave geology, biology, and conservation. Inviting local groups, the media, and others who are not part of the caving community to experience the underground environment could further the Society’s conservation goals.
Cave and Karst Acquisition proposals and grant proposals shall follow the procedures described in this policy and in the checklist in Enclosure One.
All proposals and
grant requests for the purchase and management of cave and karst properties
shall be submitted to the Cave and Karst Acquisition Committee (Committee) for
review prior to consideration by the
Upon receipt of an acceptable proposal, the Committee shall submit the proposal and supporting documentation to the Administrative Vice-President within 30 days of receipt. The Chairman of the Committee shall also submit to the Administrative Vice President a written discussion of the proposal, including a recommendation, and reasons for the recommendation. The Administrative Vice President shall present the proposal and the Committee discussion to the Executive Committee, time permitting.
Executive Committee discussion of the proposal, the Administrative Vice
President shall, prior to the next
If either the Committee or the Executive Committee believes that the proposed acquisition, or grant, is both desirable and feasible, the Administrative Vice President shall present an appropriate motion to the Board.
If the Committee cannot make a recommendation (e.g. the chairmanship is vacant, there is a lack of consensus among Committee members), then the Administrative Vice President shall present the proposal and his/her evaluation to the Executive Committee and the Board.
· Does the property have national or regional significance (this should be stated in the management plan)?
Does the cave or karst acquisition
support the purposes of the
How does the acquisition rank relative to
· Is the cave located under the land to be purchased? Property rights extend into the earth, if the mineral rights have not been severed. Are we actually acquiring the cave or just an entrance to it? Can we obtain long-term permission to enter the neighboring property through our cave entrance? Are the neighbors willing to contribute to the management of the cave?
· Is there a Management Plan in conformance with Appendix Z? Required by Board Act.
Without an appraisal,
a donor cannot properly receive tax credit, the
Professional Land Survey
Offers should be made contingent upon a survey demonstrating that the cave and/or entrance are part of the property to be purchased. This is less important when considering a donation.
Mineral rights refer
to the right to explore for and/or extract metal ores, oil, and rock. Quarries
can mine our caves if we do not own the mineral rights. Further, it is unclear
in case law whether we have legal access to caves on property on which we only
hold surface rights. Case law is clear that we cannot prevent owners of mineral
rights and their designees from exercising their rights. The
Water rights refer to
the right to exploit water and vary from state to state. If water plays an
appreciable role in the values of the cave property, then it is critical that
water cannot be diverted away from our property without
Phase 1 Investigation
If there is any possibility that there has been hazardous or special waste disposal on the property, a Phase 1 investigation should be conducted prior to closing. No offer should be made unless it is contingent upon no hazardous or special waste being present on the property.
Title Search and Title Insurance
All closings will have a title search performed and title insurance will be purchased.
an organization requests a grant from the
The standard for acceptance
of donated property does not need to be as stringent as that of purchase or
grant support. However, the recurrent and closing costs should be considered.
It is important that the
The National Speleological Society Constitution states, "The purpose of this Society shall be to promote interest in and to advance in any and all ways the study and science of speleology, the protection of caves and their natural contents, and to promote fellowship among those interested therein."
As a management committee, you should keep these goals of the Society in mind as you develop your cave management plan. This outline is your guide for writing a workable management plan and includes various topics in areas you need to include in your management plan.
One of the great values of preparing a management plan is that it encourages a careful inventory of the property's resources and identifies potential management problems.
This section should include your intentions for the management of the cave. Most of your objectives for the property should be included.
This section should include a summary of the known history of the cave and the land that it lies under. Items such as whether it was used for saltpeter mining, whether it was ever commercialized, and who the previous property owners have been is of interest.
Probably the most
important aspect of a management plan is the listing of resources. This section
should indicate what is significant about the property and why the
Each sub-section should detail as many resources as possible that may include the following:
You should be just as concerned with topics such as surface streams, roads, easements for utilities, and other such related items. In each of these sub-sections the committee should list what they will do to protect and maintain these resources.
This section is one of the most important items of any cave management plan. In this section, the committee must list what requirements must be met by those who wish to visit the property and should state whether the cave is open only at certain times of the year, open all year, or not at all. The potential is great for misunderstanding and hard feelings if the access policies are not clear, fair, and widely known.
Your management plan
should reflect the fact that all Society cave properties should be managed in
such a way as to minimize the Society's liability in case of accidents. The
management plan should state that
When managing a cave, one must not assume that the management plan is effective. The cave should be monitored for degradation. The managers may evaluate the desirability and practicality of various monitoring strategies. The strategies may include, but are not limited to, photo monitoring, water quality monitoring, and periodic censusing of indicator species. In order for degradation to be noted, a baseline condition should be established as soon as possible. If monitoring indicates degradation of the cave, revising the management plan to minimize degradation should be considered and acted on as appropriate.
This section should include what types of publicity (if any) the committee will use to inform the general public about the use of the cave. The committee may wish to draw up a program for the use of the public to educate them on the need for cave preservation. Or, if the cave is in need of extended protection, the committee may opt to try to keep the cave obscure.
This section should list what the committee plans to do to manage the land around the cave. It should include whether or not the committee will close off the road to the cave, or if a road will be constructed; if the cave is going to be gated; if barricades or gates are to be installed on the road; what parking will be available and where. And since the surface has significant impact on the cave below, this section should also include topics on possible erosion problems, water sources, disposal of human wastes, disposal of carbide, and plans for periodic trash pickup.
This section should include what plans the committee has for the future of the committee and property (if any), what goals have been established, and how these goals will be realized.
There may be other items not included in this outline, which needed to be listed in the management plan by the committee. The committee should feel free to include, as many items of importance in this guideline, as they feel are needed for the management of the property.