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NOTE: Each Nutty Putty Cave trip participant must read and agree to comply with the most current Nutty Putty Cave Management Plan.


Management Plan for State Trust Owned Caves
October 2008 - NOT YET APPROVED




  • RED - Should be stricken
  • BLUE - Replacement text or correction
  • PURPLE - My thoughts - Michael Leavitt
  • GREEN - Major concept flaw

Nutty Putty Cave has been one of the best-known and most-visited, undeveloped caves in Utah.  People regularly visit the cave from the nearby Wasatch Front communities, other various parts of the State of Utah, and even from outside the state. Visiting groups range in size from solo cavers to large scout, social, and school groups. It has been historically visited by experienced cavers and unescorted, poorly- equipped novices. People have routinely camped on the property near the cave entrance and around the hill.

The State of Utah, acting through and by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (“SITLA”), owns and managed the property that includes Nutty Putty Cave and other karst features for its trust beneficiaries, the primary one being the School Trust. The subject parcel where the caves are located is school trust land.  Most school trust lands were granted to the State of Utah by the United States at statehood, with additional ones being acquired since statehood.  The mandate of SITLA is to manage trust properties for the beneficiaries and not to the general public or welfare of the state.  Since statehood, the State of Utah has sold nearly half of the trust lands.  SITLA collects revenues for its beneficiaries by permitting and leasing the surface and mineral estate.  When SITLA sells lands, the proceeds go into a permanent trust fund.  This property, where the caves are located was originally acquired for it potential future mineral development (primarily limestone and possibly other minerals).  It is uncertain when that will occur in the future.

Managing Nutty Putty Cave for public enjoyment is not the purpose of SITLA.  However, the organization is willing to have the Cave Group and its associated caving groups assist in the management of Nutty Putty Cave to improve safety and cave conservation, and associated resource protection. SITLA, through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Timpanogos Grotto of the National Speleological Society (“Cave Group”) allows the Cave Group to manage the affected caves pursuant to the terms of the MOU and this management plan, both of which can be terminated by SITLA.  SITLA will designate the Cave Access Manager and contact, and does not intend to discuss management issues or communicate through other supporting groups.

The managing group through the Cave Access Manager will provide SITLA with an annual report and written and verbal updates of activities at the caves.

Safety in and around the cave is a serious concern.  Management and caving practices in the Nutty Putty Cave, and other SITLA owned caves, must meet the overall safety and cave conservation practices of present caving standards to assure the long-term access, education, and research opportunities of responsible organizations and groups.  The determined method for achieving this goal is to limit access to the cave to those who are properly prepared in terms of leadership, training, and equipment.

Their interest in the cave is to improve safety and resource protection by implementing a management plan that will promote and increase cave safety and promote resource protection without cost to the State of Utah. SITLA retains the right to closing the cave permanently if a management plan is unsuccessful. Therefore, management of the cave is designed to change the present trends to avoid complete closure of the cave.


Caving is a hazardous activity and involves the risk of serious injury or death.  A commitment to safe caving practices, a thorough understanding of the equipment used and mastery of safe caving techniques can greatly reduce, but will never eliminate, the risks inherent of the sport. Visitors to the SITLA caves assume the risk of injury or death by electing to visit one any one of the caves or surrounding properties.


The purpose of a management plan is to describe what is on a property and how it should be managed. A plan is not a static document that once written is placed on the shelf and forgotten. It is a document that is to be used and referenced on a regular basis. The property manager must follow the plan unless there is a compelling and over-riding reason for doing otherwise. Unless there is an immediate need, nothing should be done at a property that is not in the plan. If something new is desired, the plan should be amended only after careful, complete, and thorough analysis of the proposed changes or additions. The management plan as is an operating manual for cave preservation.

If the management plan is the basis for a management agreement with a third party, then the changes must also be approved by the third party.


Salt Lake Caver Dale Green discovered Nutty Putty Cave in 1960.  Nearby ranchers directed Green to the top of a nearby hill where a small pit had been found that housed several snakes.  Though the cave location was known to the ranchers, it had yet to be entered.  Green recalled that following a short down climb and a tight belly crawl the cave opened up to a gradually sloping downward passage.  The ground was covered with a soft mud and there were a several pockets of gypsum crystals, much of this is now gone.  A short time later, Green invited several people from the Brigham Young University Outdoor club to visit the cave and its popularity skyrocketed.  By 2005, the cave was receiving nearly 5,000 recreational visits per year!



The caves have a small diversity of biota but no research has been conducted.  Those readily identified are not known to be endangered and there is no documented effect by human visitation.


The Nutty Putty Cave entrance is on nearly level ground in the saddle of a small spur of Rassle Knoll. MF-45 lists the formation as cherty limestone 120-140 ft thick. Very close to the west, is a bed of fossiliferous lime­stone and dolomite 380-400 feet thick; to the east is an extensive bed of Deseret formation. The cherty limestone near the entrance is probably what USGS Prof. Paper 107 (pp. 39-40) referred to as Gardner Dolomite.
The entire area is very fossiliferous; broken and badly weathered crinoid stems and horned coral are abundant. Prof. Paper 107 p.41 has a long list of identified varieties, which indicate the limestone belongs to the upper Mississippian Era.

The Nutty Putty Cave entrance is on nearly level ground in the saddle of a small spur of Blowhole Hill in dipping, cherty limestone known as the Gardner limestone of upper Mississippian age.  The Gardner is the age equivalent of the wide-spread Madison limestone.  This formation covers the area west of Blowhole Hill’s saddle.  The area east of the saddle is the Deseret formation, consisting of limestone, dolomite, and shale.  The entire area is very fossiliferous.  Broken and badly weathered crinoid stems and horned coral are abundant.  U.S.G.S Prof. Paper 107, p.41 has a long list of identified varieties.
Some confusion exists about the exact naming of this hill.  The local ranchers refer to it as “Rassle Knoll” after a memorable event in their history.  The U.S.G.S. Allens Ranch quadrangle lists it as “Blowhole Hill”, although the well-known, almost famous,  Blowhole Cave is actually on another nearby hill referred to on the map as Greeley Hill.  An effort was made to correct the discrepancy during the remapping of the quadrangle but the U.S.G.S. field engineer was uncooperative.

The fourth stage was a calcitic alteration. Zones of red hematite impregnated calcite occur throughout the area. This material, termed by Proctor "Ferruginous Calcite" may be the source of the red color in the "Navajo Blanket" formation in Blowhole Cave (TN 47, P.3). [better: Salt Lake Grotto Tech. Note 47, p. 3.] The calcitic alteration also caused some white to brown calcite and aragonite open space fillings on Wanlass Hill, one of them "large enough for a man to enter". This has not been checked, but no caves are known to the grotto on Wanlass Hill. [I have checked this.  At the base of Wanlass on the south side is a hole ‘large enough to enter” called “Bubbles”.] There are also some calcite-quartz lenses bearing Hydrogen Sul­fide on Blowhole Hill. Occurring close to the calcitic stage in time was the last stage, when metallization occurred, and resulted later in the intensive mining activity of the area. (Proctor)

In their original form, several samples of the "nutty putty" have been analyzed, and it appears to be composed of minute rounded particles of Silicon Dioxide, roughly three microns in diameter, and some minor impurities.
Studies have also shown the chert to contain 25% calcite.

  • Hydrological - No research has yet been conducted on the hydrology of the caves.
  • Historical - There are no known historical resources in the caves.



Nutty Putty Cave Features

  1. 15 foot climb to the cave entrance
  2. Snake possibility at the cave entrance
  3. Entrance Crawl passage may contain water
  4. 15 foot drop
  5. 30 degree mud slope
  6. 8 foot drop at the bottom of the mud slope
  7. Extremely tight crawl way passages

Blow Hole Cave Features

  1. 45 foot vertical drop

Rabbit Trap Cave Features

  1. 25 foot vertical drop

Silly Putty Cave Features

  1. Tight crawlway passages



Caving is a hazardous activity and involves the risk of serious injury or death. Visitors to the SITLA caves assume the risk of injury or death by electing to visit one any one of the caves or surrounding properties.

Organizations that manage their own groups access may add additional requirements; however all groups must follow these access requirements.  Leaders of the groups are responsible for checking their organization’s most recent policies, regulations, and standards. Groups from established organizations must prove that their group adheres to its organization’s most recent policies, regulations, and standards before being granted access.  All Boy Scouts of America groups are required to have an approved BSA tour permit.  Anyone in Nutty Putty Cave or any other nearby SITLA-owned caves who is found not complying with these access requirements will immediately lose their access privileges and may be cited for trespassing.

  1. Each participant, their guardian and family, has a responsibility to become informed about issues of cave trip leadership, safety, health, and security while involved in a cave activity. 
  2. All groups and individuals must be covered by adequate personal accident and health insurance. Primary insurance coverage for all participating in a cave activity (above and below ground) is the participant’s own insurance.
  3. Access application to the cave must be completed 21 days before a planned trip.
  4. A maximum of two groups are permitted in the cave at one time. Each group should be organized to function independently by having requiring each group having 2 qualified leaders.
  5. All groups must adhere to the two-deep leadership policy of having two registered adult leaders.  
    1. The leaders must be 18 or older (BSA requires the tour leader to be 21 or older).
    2. The leaders must be constantly present with the group.
    3. One leader must be an experienced caver that is able to navigate all of the obstacles encountered in the cave during their visit.
    4. The leaders are responsible for their group and must realistically plan a trip to not exceed the capability of any member of the group.
    5. Leader must have knowledge of each participant’s preexisting medical conditions that may compromise the participants safety. 
    6. The leader is responsible in for enforcing that no illegal drugs or substance use are used during the trip.
    7. The leaders must have current certification in basic first-aid and CPR. They must comprehensive knowledge of the practices to follow in the event of an accident. 
    8. Leaders must be responsible and willing to terminate a trip if any of the trip requirements are not met, such as, but not limited to, inadequate equipment, inadequately trained participants, lack of insurance, lack of permission slips for minors, or improper hazardous behaviors.
  6. Access to all caves must be limited to the hours of 7 am to 10 pm.  Special permission from the Cave Access manager is needed access or to be in the caves or on the property after these hours. 
  7. All groups will be limited to a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 10 persons (including the 2 trip leaders).  Individuals will not be permitted to enter the cave.
  8. All participants must be 14 years of age and older unless accompanied by parent or guardian. NOTE: Some, unless part of a sponsoring organizations impose states older minimum age requirements.  Those under the age of 18 must have a waiver and medical release form signed by a parent or guardian, regardless of whether or not the trip leader is the parent. The original waiver forms must be presented to the Cave Access Manager no later than seven days before a trip and copies carried with the group for the duration the trip. (This is a management nightmare... Can’t we place the burden on the tour leader and make them electronically sign off electronically that they have secured the signed waivers and medical releases for their group members?... Proposed verbiage “The original signed waiver and medical release forms must be secured 21 days before the trip and left with the tour group’s listed emergency contact, and copies must carried with the group for the duration the trip.)
  9. EVERY member of the group, and their guardian, when applicable, must read and sign the permit before entering any SITLA cave. All caving participants must understand the access requirements and note acknowledge their agreement to follow them by signing the Cave Access Permit. Compliance with obtaining any and all permissions, waivers, and medical releases will be the responsibility of the tour leader and NOT the responsibility of either SILTA, the Cave Access Manager, or the Cave Management Group.
  10. All caving groups will be limited to 10 persons (including the 2 trip leaders). More than one group is No more than 2 groups are permitted in the cave at a any giventime. h However, when two groups are in the cave, each group should be organized to function independently by having requiring each group having to have 2 qualified leaders as defined above (See #5 above).    
  11. Each individual group must stay together at all times. 
  12. Specific information about the caving trip must be left with a responsible person (the listed emergency contact) back home at time of departure. This should include location and length of time of the trip, expected time of return, list of participants, waivers and medical releases, and whom to contact for each trip member in case of emergency.  The group is highly recommended to have, but not rely on, a cell phone in case of emergency. Always call 911 in the event of an emergency.
  13. Groups from established organizations (i.e. Boy Scouts of America, church groups, youth organizations, clubs, societies, agencies, fraternities, etc) must provide obtain signed legal documentation from their sponsoring institution and provide assurances that their group adheres to its organization’s most recent policies, regulations, and standards.  BSA requires all Scout groups to have an approved tour permit to show their groups are successfully adhering to their set standards. 
  14. Every participant in a caving trip must agree, without reservation, to follow all of the specific safety guidelines of their sponsoring organization.  Not only the leaders, but every person on a cave trip should be aware of the necessity to constantly observe the whereabouts and potential problems of other members of the group and be ready to provide any assistance necessary. 
  15. Natural and fabricated hazards such as slippery slopes, loose rocks, pits, cold water, complex routes, old ropes, and the possibility of entrance flooding are all dangers to some degree and must be approached with care and judgment. If an accident may still occur in spite of preventive measures, that area must be avoided entirely.  Hazards must be immediately reported the Cave Access Manager.
  16. The groups will have proper equipment and dress for caving.  All participants are required to have a helmet, helmet-mounted light, extra dependable light sources, proper footwear boots, and clothing for each member of the group.  A first aid kit and a short 15 ft hand line are strongly recommended required for each group.
  17. Recreational-use of drugs or alcohol is prohibited.  Suspected use of drugs or under-aged drinking by groups will be reported immediately to local authorities.  Smoking or any tobacco use in the caves is also is prohibited.
  18. Weapons and items that appear to be weapons (BB guns, air soft guns, swords, bows, etc) are not allowed in the caves and must kept more that 300 yards from the cave entrance.
  19. Fireworks of any form or classification or are prohibited in the caves and on SITLA cave property.
  20. All cavers entering vertical caves (Blowhole, Rabbit Trap) must have their own vertical caving gear and have proof of successfully learned descending and ascending caving techniques. Proof may be completed course descriptions with instructor signature.
  21. Specific information about the caving trip must be left with a responsible person back home at time of departure. This should include location and length of time of trip, expected time of return, list of participants, and whom to contact for each trip member in case of emergency.  The group is highly recommended to have, by not rely on, a cell phone in case of emergency. Redundant.. This is already stated in number 9 above. This means that the following number 22 is really number 21.
  22. Any group [or individual] wishing to learn about cave rescue (other than self rescues techniques), or pursue that activity as a specialty, must do so under the sponsorship and supervision of either the Utah Cave Search & Rescue or Utah County Search & Rescue. Rescue trainings are prohibited at SITLA caves without specific written approval from the cave owners by way of the Cave Access Manager.



The Cave Management Team will have quarterly inspections performed that will inspect, verify, and report:

  1. The condition of the 4 caves and surrounding property within 300 yards of the cave openings.
  2. The condition of the sign and ledger systems.
  3. The condition of the gate and lock systems.
  4. The condition of the anchor and the replacement of the rope down the “Big Slide.”
  5. Any needed repairs or improvements.

The Cave Management Team will fill out a quarterly inspection log and keep it on file. The quarterly inspection reports combined with the regular Tour Leader trip reports, will alert the Cave Access Manager of any issues or repairs that are needed. This will help formulate any needed actions to help preserve the cave and provide the needed safety for those accessing the cave.


Funding for the 4 SITLA owned caves in this management plan will come from private donations and the collection of the $10 Cave Access Fees. The Cave Access Manager will be responsible for disbursing the funds as needed and a full accounting will be made quarterly to the Cave Management Team. Here is the current list of items that will need to be funded:

  1. Ledger – The ledger data will be collected quarterly and the system will be evaluated, improved, and updated as needed.
  2. Signs – The signs will be inspected quarterly and replaced as deemed necessary.
  3. Gate – The gate will be an ongoing issue and occasional repairs are anticipated from possible vandalism. There should be no issues from normal use. Due to the location of the cave and the difficulty of getting equipment to the cave opening, 14 days will be allowed from the time a major breech is reported to the Cave Access Manager to be able to complete the repairs.
  4. Locks – Locks and keys will always be an issue due to multiple user access. Lock improvement and replacement will be made at the discretion of the Cave Access Manager.
  5. Rope - The rope down the “Big Slide” will be replaced every 90 days (Help me here Jon…. How often should it be replaced?) by the Cave Management Team during the quarterly  inspection process. Each Tour Leader is responsible to inspect and report back in their trip report the current condition of the rope, in case early replacement is needed.
  6. Internet – The online information and reservation system will need regular maintenance and updates. The online information will be funded by the $10 Cave Access Fees and private donations of both time and money.

The Cave Access Manager will be responsible to maintain an expense report and together with the Cave Management Team will provide an annual report to the land owners (SITLA) that includes the cave management expenses and the proposed budget for the new year.


Each person accessing the 4 SITLA owned caves in this management plan will need to agree to the approved “SITLA Cave Waver and Medical Release.” Caving is risky and all participants assume any and all liabilities during their visit to the cave. The waiver releases the land owners (SITLA), the Cave Access Manager, and the Cave Access Team from all liabilities, other than for gross negligence. Gross negligence would include the failure to perform regular quarterly inspections and failure to address issues in a timely manner from the trip reports from the Tour Leaders. Timely manner for action is defined as within 14 days from the time it was reported. It must be understood that the Cave Access Manager and the Cave Management Team are all volunteers doing their best to preserve the cave and increase the safeness of the cave trips, and therefore should not be at risk of losing their assets due to accidents at the cave.


Strike this section to reflect the improvements below that allow for both mailing and electronic payments.

Two checks and one return postage paid envelope are required 
Key Deposit:  A key deposit of $75.00 is required to cover the cost of replacing the key and lock. In the event that the key is not returned or lost in the mail.
Lock and Gate Maintenance: A separate $10.00 is required for lock and gate maintenance is required.  The maintenance fee will be waved for established organizations that are involved with the maintenance of the caves and cave gates.
Return Envelope: Enclose a self addressed postage affixed return envelope MUST be enclosed for the Access Manager to return your $75.00.  Choose the type of postage that will assure you of getting your returned check.  Checks will be returned within 7 days after a Trip Report and the key are returned.  The Access Manager is not responsible for undelivered mail.

KEY/LOCK/TRIP REPORT DEPOSIT: A key/lock/trip report deposit of $75.00 is required to cover the cost of replacing the keys and locks. This will be billed in the event that the keys is are either not returned, or lost in the mail, or if the locks are lost or damaged as a result of the visit. The deposit will also be billed if the online trip report is not completed by the Tour Leader within 7 days after the trip. The Trip Report is the primary alert system for hazards in or around the cave that require immediate attention by the Cave management Group. The deposit will be received either as a check or credit card.

CAVE ACCESS FEE: A separate $10.00 fee is required for accessing the cave. The fee is applied towards lock and gate maintenance is required any other cave related maintenance items.  The maintenance fee will be waved waived for established organizations that are involved with the maintenance of the cave and cave gates, at the Cave Access Manager’s discretion. The fee will be paid either by check or electronic online payment and the funds will maintained and disbursed by the Cave Access Manager as needed to cover the expenses associated with the maintenance of the cave, ledger upkeep, signs, rope replacement, upkeep of the lock and gate system, and fees associated with the online cave access reservation system.


  • Key/Lock Deposit - Complete the secure online deposit form. (LINK WILL BE PROVIDED)
  • Maintenance Fee - Complete the secure online payment form. (LINK WILL BE PROVIDED)


  • Two checks ($75 and $10) and one return postage paid envelope are required to be submitted to the Cave Access Manager 21 days prior to your trip
    • Return Envelope - Enclose a self addressed postage affixed return envelope MUST be enclosed for the Cave Access Manager to return your $75.00 deposit.  Choose the type of postage that will assure you of getting your returned check.  Deposit Cchecks will be returned return mailed within 7 days after a the Trip Report is received and the access keys are returned.  The Cave Access Manager is not responsible for undelivered mail.
  • NOTE: If the mail method is used, all other online reservations, forms, and approvals for the trip must be completed. The mail method provides an option for those applicants who prefer not to share their credit card info online.

Each group entering the 4 SITLA owned caves in this management plan is required to submit a written Trip Report either by mail or by online form,  and return the gate keys to the Cave Access Manager within 7 days after their trip.  After receipt of the Trip Report and the keys, the group’s deposit will be returned.

Key will duplication will be handled treated as a trespassing offense and reported to the governing law enforcement agency.


The Cave Access Manager has the right to refuse any permit request for any reason. Violation of any rules disbars trip leaders and their groups from entering SITLA caves in the future. Appeals can be submitted to the Cave Access Manager and reviewed by the Cave Management Group, but the cave is privately owned and the access rights are reserved by the land owners (SITLA) and delegated to the sole discretion of the Cave Access Manager.


Each group is responsible for ‘no trace’ behaviors.  Take only pictures, leave only footprints.

Cave features, soils, and fossils are not to be changed, broken, or removed from the cave.

Without special written permission of the cave owner obtained through the Cave Access Manager, no digging or excavating in the cave will be allowed except when needed to assist in an emergency cave rescue.

In the event of a new discovery, the Cave Access Manager must be notified before entering any new area in the cave.   

Sanitation is a personal responsibility.  No urinating or defecating in any of the caves is allowed.  Group sanitation is the responsibility of the group leader. 

Eating meals is not permitted in the cave. (What defines a meal?... Don’t we encourage eating power snacks to keep up the caver’s energy? Surely we are not banning all food in the cave... What is a better way to convey the desired concept? “Eating snacks in the cave is permitted, but please eat all of your main meals before and after you access the cave. Make sure that all crumbs, wrappers, and food debris are not left behind in the cave.” )

All new exploration will be map-as-you-go. No blasting with high or low explosives, or any material generally interpreted as an explosive, may be done unless the individual is properly licensed and has explicit, written permission of the land owners through the Cave Access Manager. Results of exploration trips will be conveyed to the land owners and through the Cave Access Manager.

Discovery teams may name new areas, but names deemed inappropriate or distasteful, or named after living people, will not be accepted.



Publicity of any of the Utah School Trust Lands School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (“SITLA”) caves should not to be publicized in magazines or newspapers of general circulation nor on radio or television without the express permission of SITLA. Caver's publications like The Utah Caver and the NSS News may contain information on the latest discoveries. Some grotto publications may also have information, but again, these have limited circulation and are not to give exact locations to the general public.

Annual Cave Clean-up activities will be planned with the agencies and organizations interested in maintaining the Nutty Putty Cave, the Silly Putty Cave, the Rabbit Trap Cave, and the Blowhole Cave.
  1. No camping is allowed on the property or in the cave at any time.  All trips must be out of the cave and off the property by the 10 pm curfew.
  2. Vehicles are not permitted to drive within 50 feet of the entrance to any of the cave. Except in the case of Search and Rescue, and medical operations, and approved maintenance projects.

Scientific research is encouraged.  Research will be permitted only with the written approval of the land owner through the Cave Access Manager. 

  • A new sign should be posted on the property.
  • Create and implement a new annual Nutty Putty Cave Award for the individual or individuals who have most positively impacted the cave during the prior calendar year. This will be done on the Timpanogos Grotto level and not as part of the Cave Management Plan.
  • The online booking and reservation system will be implemented and perfected to reduce the amount of man hours invested by the Cave Access manager and the Cave management Team.
The Cave Access Manager is responsible to provide a written report to the land owner annually by January 31st that addresses the events of the cave during the prior calendar year. This report should include:
  • Cave trip statistics
  • Major issues
  • Complaints
  • Major accomplishments
  • Successful clean-up projects
  • Gate and access issues
  • Gate and lock status and repairs
  • Access maintenance fee accounting and disbursement
  • Current needs
  • Future needs
  • Planned projects
  • Recommended Management Plan changes
  • Nutty Putty Cave Award winner report

The Nutty Putty Cave Management Plan will be reviewed at least every two calendar years, on the even year cycle, by the Cave Management Team and any modifications will be shared by the Cave Access Manager to the land owner for their approval. The next approval cycle will be January 2010. The existing Cave Management Plan is valid until a newer version is approved.

Any recommendations for modifications, changes, or improvements should be directed to the Cave Access Manager.

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