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UTAH - TIMPANOGOS GROTTO OF THE N.S.S.
NUTTY PUTTY CAVE STATUS

The Nutty Putty Cave is still closed! The following provides some great information for those wanting to know more...

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Concerns and Efforts

The Timpanogos Grotto's main concerns in Nutty Putty Cave are safety of visitors and the protection of the cave resources. The improper practices and philosophies learned are transferred to other caves. Therefore, the successes or failures at Nutty Putty Cave affect the use and condition of all of the other caves in the state.

Utah Trust Lands, where Nutty Putty Cave resides, is to be managed "in the most prudent and profitable manner possible, and not for any purpose inconsistent with the best interest of the trust beneficiaries. The beneficiaries do not include other governmental institutions or agencies, the public at large, or the general welfare of the state." In the simplest of terms, Utah Trust Lands are managed to maximize profits for Utah schools. 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. Closing the cave permanently is an option if a management plan is unsuccessful. The organizations heavily using Nutty Putty Cave need to come together and be proactive to change the present trends and save the cave from its course towards ultimate doom.

The recent number of cave rescues and the increased awareness of potential caving dangers (Media Coverage on Nutty Putty Caving) have caused the Trust Lands Administration to consider various options regarding Nutty Putty Cave, including potential permanent closure to prevent a future fatality. Since its discovery, Nutty Putty Cave has required four full callout rescues; two of these rescues were within one week of Labor Day Weekend 2004 (media coverage and video of Dave Crowther's rescue or Brock Clark's rescue). The Trust Lands Administration had hoped to enter into a proposed lease arrangement in 2005 with several different organizations which had interest in managing the cave, but those efforts failed for various reasons. The drowning of four people in the Provo Cave in 2005 likely affected those organizations decision not to further consider a lease. The Trust Lands Administration has since agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with the Timpanogos Grotto Club to gate the cave and implement a new management plan to improve training, safety, and resource protection.

On April 14, 2006, the state signed a Management Agreement with the Timpanogos Grotto. This agreement allowed the Timpanogos Grotto to gate and limit access only to prepared cavers. On May 24, 2006, the Nutty Putty Cave gate was completed. If this approach can eliminated the safety problems in Nutty Putty Cave, the threat of the cave's total closure will be avoided. But will it work? Will this approach be accepted by the masses (~ 5,000 visitors/year)? Or will the efforts and expense be lost in break-ins and acts of heavily retaliation? Or is there a solution to this "Utah gone wild" cave from being permanently closed?

THE NUTTY PUTTY CAVE GATE VIEWED FROM THE INSIDE

SAFETY CONCERNS

The safety of visitors is the greatest concern at Nutty Putty Cave. Proper preparation is the key to a safe trip. Trip leaders should know all of the hazards and know how well the each individual will handle these hazards. A well-fitting helmet, a head-mounted light, boots with rigid soles, and clothing for humid 60 degrees Fahrenheit will not only make your trip safer, but more pleasant and comfortable.

The top cause for caving fatalities in the state is head or neck injuries created by falls. On the December 24, 2002, a death occurred after a fall in Bloomington Cave. On November 20, 1993, scout leader fell 8 ft and died from head injuries in Logan Cave. Comment from Steve Knutson, editor of the American Caving Accidents about the Logan Cave death:

The victim was not wearing a hard hat. Apparently Ashton was interviewed by local TV News and is paraphrased as saying that the accident was unpreventable... unless the victim had worn a hard hat. Could these Scout leaders really think that a cave is a place for someone who does not wear one? An obvious lesson here is that people teaching youths how to be responsible should know what they are doing and be responsible themselves. It is also important to note how short a fall can kill.

Typical Outfitted Visitors
A Fixed Rope With Worn Sheath
Blood Trail From Head Injury
REMOVING ENTRANCE GRAFFITI

In the spring of 2003, the entrance graffiti was removal using the commercial product, Lift Off #4 and a drill-driven wire brush. Normally non-chemical means are used, but this outdoor graffiti was removed with little effect on the visitor's or cave's health. With the high humidity, cave graffiti usually can be easily removed with stiff wire or plastic brushes.

Removing Entrance Graffiti With Lift-Off
And Some Added Scrubbing Power
RECORDING USE

In the past, a tube style cave register was used to record the visitation statistics for Nutty Putty Cave. This register recorded 1,711 visitors over 8 months or an average of 7 people/day. This register had many difficulties. The location of register was just inside the cave where it first opens up. Even group often bottle-neck here; it wasn't a good location for most folks to stop and sign a register. Due to the cave's high humidity, the paper within the register had to be changed about once a month before it turned to mush. The humidity also erased any markings on the register. This problem once created huge scare; the Utah Valley Bomb Squad literally was sent to diffuse the situation. If local caver hadn't have been called, the suspected pipe bomb would have been blown to bits most likely collapsing the entrance.

In Dec of 2003, a surface register was installed to record visitation and provide an outlet for educational materials. The objective of the register is to establish the magnitude and demographics of the cave's use. This data will be used forge a positive future for Nutty Putty Cave by documenting public use, by teaming together interest group, and providing some outlet for distributing cave safety and conservation materials.

Tube-size Cave Register
Surface Register

In addition to the surface register, an electronic counter was placed near the entrance of the cave to accurately count the times of visitation. In this way, visitation is recorded in 15 minute intervals. The purpose is to study the percentage and hours of total visitation to establish the interest in the resource and the need for action. The method has shown that the cave is occupied 13.8% of the total time and estimates 4,909 visits/year!

The interesting question can be raised is, "What are people doing visiting Nutty Putty Cave is the odd hours of the night?" Looking at the present visitation, most of the visitation occurs at night. For the present time for year this data has been collected, the visitation was late at night and very cold! My imagination runs wild at the possibilities of what folks are doing at 4:00 am. If this much night activity occurs in the winter, any hour may be possible for the summer! (Click image to see a full .pdf graphs and data - 152KB.)

15 minute visitation intervals sorted by time of day and days of the week
Visitation average shown by days of the week.
Demographic data was collected from the surface register from October 2003 to August 2004. The results show that group visiting Nutty Putty Cave is by the Boy Scout of America (17%). All of the Utah caving grotto organizations account for only 1% of the total signing visitation. Location demographics show that the top visiting cities are: 18% Provo, 11% Orem, and 10% Salt Lake City. Out of state visits make up 8% and out of country visits make up 2% of the total visitation. (Click image to see a full .pdf graphs and data - 92KB.)
The breakdown of groups visiting Nutty Putty Cave
Percentage of people from different Utah Cities visiting Nutty Putty Cave

Copyright 2006 Timpanogos Grotto

Maintained by Jon Jasper - Last Updated July 16, 2006 - See Jon’s Online Video For The Fuller Story

SAVING THE NUTTY PUTTY CAVE

All interested parties need to view the online presentation put together by Jon Jasper. The 14 minute presentation gives a history of the events leading up to the current closure of the cave.

CAN THE NUTTY PUTTY BE SAVED?

Save the cave

VIEW THE NUTTY PUTTY CAVE ACCESS PAGE

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