Volume 14 No. 2 May 1, 1995
Published by the NSS Section on Cave Conservation and Management
Table of Contents | Hawaii Natural Area Reserve System | Nature Conservancy Cave Protection | Bat Protection | Mushroom Cave | Sustainable Development | Colossal Cave | BLM FRCPA Regulations | New Mexico BLM Issue # 2 | Rock Art in Portugal Threatened
The Cave Conservationist is the official publication of the Conservation and Management Section of the National Speleological Society. Distribution is free to members of the Section. Section membership costs $5 annually and should be mailed to the Secretary. (A membership form for your convenience is included on page 23.) Additional complimentary copies are distributed on a temporary basis at the discretion of the Section to NSS members, internal organizations, cave owners, and others involved in cave conservation projects. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the either the Section or the NSS and should be attributed to the author or, in the case of uncredited articles, to the Editor.
SUBMISSIONS: Articles and other Cave Conservationist correspondence should be sent to the Editor. Submissions on computer disks should be made with 3.5" IBM compatible diskettes, . Microsoft Word, Word Perfect 5.0-3, or Wordstar 3.3 compatibility, or straight ASCII format is preferred. Do not format materials for multiple columns! Diskettes will not be returned unless requested. Arrangements may be made for transmission via modem; call or write the publisher for details. Or send an E-Mail message, or your article, to the Publisher via the Internet to email@example.com. Note: if you send diskettes or articles to the Publisher, be sure to notify the Editor that you have done so, and send him a hard copy.
Copyright 1995 NSS Conservation and Management Section, except as noted. Internal organizations of the National Speleological Society may reprint any item first appearing in the Cave Conservationist so long as proper credit is given and a copy of the newsletter containing the material is mailed to the Editor. Other organizations should contact the Editor.
Printed by members of the D.C. Grotto and the Potomac Speleological Society.
Fred Wefer (NSS Executive Vice-President) reports that he has received no volunteers for the position of NSS Conservation Chairman, to take over from Al Krause who is retiring. Effectively this means that the position may not be filled until the fall, since the cycle for approval of this important position by the Board at the Convention BOG meeting means that applications must be received by June 1. You will probably be receiving this issue around, or after June 1, so if you haven't already applied, it's too late for the Convention meeting.
This position is the most important NSS Conservation post. The Conservation Chair is the leader of NSS conservation activities, coordinates the work of about 15 subcommittees and conservation task forces, and generally directs a complex bureaucracy of volunteers. The position has always been hard to fill, since it represents a lot of work, but the rewards can make it worth it.
When the late Vic Schmidt decided in 1970 that he probably ought to retire from the post and pay some attention to his job and family, he looked for a successor before he stepped down. I happened to be involved in one of the few active conservation projects at the time: preparing a proposal for a wilderness area in the Guadalupe Escarpment of New Mexico and Texas. It turned out I was going to have some time on my hands during the next couple of years, so I decided to take on the job. So I spent the next four years building up the Committee into a large group of active volunteers, developed a bureaucracy to support them, and personally worked on several projects which succeeded to some degree in achieving some of our cave conservation goals. I ran for and was elected to the Board of Governors, again recruited by the nominating committee, but because I realized that I could do a better job by being in closer touch with other Society leaders via attendance at Board meetings.
I finally burned out and found a replacement in the person of Nick Noe, who had been one of my active volunteers. Nick had some time on his hands, also, but eventually had to find a real job, and so he lasted only one year. Several other Conservation Chairs over the years have included Tom Strong, Beth Estes, Jerry Thornton, Janet Thorne, and recently Al Krause.
Chairing the NSS Conservation Committee is a challenging job that can take as much time as you have available. It can also bring some great rewards: the opportunity to network with a dedicated body of volunteers; some achievements as caves are protected; and some disappointments as other caves aren't; frustrations with the NSS Bureaucracy and leadership; the opportunity to develop life-time friendships with a variety of cavers and conservation activists throughout the world. In short, you'll get out of it what you put into it. It won't be easy. You'll never have enough time to do what needs to be done. Your family will wonder what happened to you. Eventually you'll retire/quit/burn out. To find out you can have a life again. And maybe even go caving again.
At this time, having an active NSS Conservation Chair is vital to the future of cave conservation. The national mood is complex. It's hard to predict what will happen as government agencies attempt to get more efficient, as political winds shift, as population pressures increase the stress on our natural environment, including caves. There has been somewhat of a backlash against cave conservation in the last few years as a new generation of cavers senses that access to caves could be cut off by the need to preserve them. A careful balance of opposing forces is necessary to keep the NSS and its members committed and effective in conserving caves.
Many NSS conservation efforts are local in nature, but need national coordination and guidance. In spite of increasing trends towards government decentralization, the fact is that the Federal government manages a lot of caves in this country. As an organization, we will have more clout with a national power center aiding local cavers in achieving their conservation goals. And this will be especially important as power shifts from one level to the other.
So if you are believe that caves need protection, have some organizational skills, some time on your hands, and want to make a contribution to society, caves, and to the NSS-this is your opportunity. The NSS Conservation Committee needs you!
-in case you are wondering why the Chairman's Column has suddenly become the President's Column-I read the bylaws, dug out by Evelyn for another reason, and realized we have been mis-titling all our officers for several years. So I have fixed the problem with a stroke of the "editorial" pen (or in this case keyboard). Henceforth . . . .
Rob Stitt, President
William R. Halliday
Hawaii Speleological Survey
National Speleological Society
P.O. Box 1526
Hilo, HI 96720
Puhia Pele is a small but extraordinary volcanic complex on the northwest rift of Hualalai volcano, about 0.8 km (~ mile) makai highway 190. It is the vent of the shortlived 1801 unit of the Kaupulehu lava flows, and thus it was the site of the most recent Hualalai eruption. Despite its small size it is a remarkable representativeinminiature of unusual spleen and surface features characteristic of Hualalai volcano but rarely if ever seen on other Hawaiian volcanoes. It would be an easily accessible teaching lab where geologists, graduate students, and elementary students alike would easily see for themselves many of the features which distinguish Hualalai from other Hawaiian volcanoes. This is especially evident regarding open vertical volcanic conduits. Hualalai volcano is especially notable for these phenomena, both in association with pit craters and as freestanding features. Depth of the combined pit crateropen conduit complex of Na One totals 263 m (862 feet). Depths of open vertical shafts near the head of the Kaupulehu xenolith nodule beds are much less but their relationship to the nodule beds is of exceptional scientific interest. At least one isolated open vertical shaft in a hollow driblet cone has been found in the MalekuleLuamakame area of Hualalai; the complex of shafts at Puhia Pele is the second such example on the volcano. None of these is known elsewhere in Hawaii and Puhia Pele is the only location where access potentially is quick and easy.
A speleological reconnaissance team first investigated Puhia Pele on February 23, 1995. It encountered unexpectedly deep cavernous descents of varying technical difficulty. Some were beyond the party's capabilities, and reconnaissance was incomplete. Yet the team immediately recognized its extraordinary potential for scientific study and education. In addition to the representative features indicated above, other were found which appear to be unique to Puhia Pele.
This complex is in an area increasingly subject to subdivision and other development. Ranch roads on both sides of the complex currently are being improved. Yet its features are almost entirely unmodified by man. A metal pole cemented into a cavity at its summit is the only mark of man. Preservation of Puhia Pele for scientific study and education should receive an exceptionally high priority.
Puhia Pele is a small volcanic complex about 40 m (125 feet) high. It is on the northwest rift of Hualalai volcano. On the Kiholo 1:24,000 Quadrangle its summit elevation is shown as 1637 feet (499 m). A smaller cone about 100 m mauka the summit cone was not part of these investigations.
The summit is a hollow driblet cone or spire with two open vertical volcanic conduits which join 2030 m below the summit. They are 2 to 4 m in diameter, belling out downward. Little spatter is present. The vertical opening on the SE side of the cone is about 5 m below the summit. I descended partway to a ledge and found that it probably is a shorter and less technical route to the chamber visible below. About 5 m below the surface on the outer wall of this pit is the orifice of a smaller open vertical conduit. Because of technical difficulties, I could see only a few meters of this side shaft. Taken as a whole, this summit cone is similar to another hollow driblet spire at an elevation of about 7600 feet on the rift, but is more complex.
In contact with the northwest side of the summit driblet cone is a pit crater about 20 m in width, moderately elongated along the rift. At its mauka end, its walls are almost as high as the summit cone but are comparatively rubbly in composition. Its minimum depth is about 8 m at its northwest end. Here, rock fall has piled up a small platform at the top of a steep slope leading downward toward the chamber below the summit cone. Elsewhere it is much deeper. The talus slope is interrupted by a partially circumferential lava shelf resulting from pond drainage, forming a ledge around the south side of the Pit crater.
On like south wall of the pit crater, just above this lava shelf, are the openings of two chambers. The more westerly is entered through a steeply sloping hole about 1 m in diameter. It extends downward 34 meters to the lower end of an irregularly pocketed chamber about 5 m long and up to 3 m wide and high. Except where coated with white secondary encrustations, this chamber is entirely lined with featureless gray granular slightly vesicular basalt. No lava tube features are present, and it appears to be a small, undifferentiated magma chamber.
About 10 m farther south is the horizontal opening of a much larger chamber, much more complex in features and origin. It is perhaps 25 m long and up to 12 m wide. Rounded pockets are present at different levels. One is somewhat tubular. It angles upward to perhaps 10 m above the floor, extending in the general direction of the chamber below the summit. Another blind chimney is present farther northwest. Lava dripstone and spatter of different colors are dramatic. Some small lava shelves are present but no features of lava tube caves. Secondary minerals also are present.
Below the lava shelf, in the center of the pit crater a spacious cavern angles steeply downward in the general direction of the chamber below the summit. Its floor consists of loose rock fragments. It is mostly about 5 m (15 feet) wide. Its slope length is 17~ m t58 feet); the slope angle is 34°. At its lower end is a lava chimney about 8 m high, with extensive lava dripstone and secondary mineral encrustations.
Near the bottom of this cavernous passage, the floor consists of large pieces of basalt, many cm on a side. These are wedged above a cavernous space a few m high. This space was not entered but appeared to extend northwest beneath the rocky slope.
Makai the pit crater a lava trench extends northwest for an undetermined distance. It was not examined in any detail; some short segments of it appear to be roofed, forming natural bridges. About 50 m makai the lower rim of the pit crater is a natural bridge of this type. Looking down from the south rim of the trench segment, a black orifice about 1 m in diameter was observed at the lowest point of the trench segment between the pit crater and the natural bridge. This suggests the presence of an intact segment of lava tube cave at a lower level be neath the floor of the trench. It could not be entered safely with equipment on hand.
This pattern of crateroutlet lava trench and tube is seen in larger scale at Poikahe and nearby craters on Hualalai volcano, and at some sites on the Moon and on Mars.
Spreading out from the base of the summit cone is a small flat of pahoehoe basalt containing many small shelly pahoehoe tubes and subsidence cavities. These are representative of types common near pahoehoe vents of Hualalai and other Hawaiian volcanoes, but these are not often observed at so low an altitude.
The summit of Puhia Pele is a natural ahu defining an angle in the boundary between Kaupulehu and Maniniowale ahupuaa (the latter apparently coalesces with the mauka points of Kukio 1 and 2 ahupuaa in its general vicinity). Most of the complex is within Maniniowale ahupuaa. Access roads are present in both, paralleling the rift. Little vegetation is present. Goats are the primary pests; their droppings and carcasses are plentiful. The complex should be fenced to exclude them and also to exclude the curious public, especially children from nearby subdivisions. One or more gates should be provided for access by permit for scientific study and education. Such a fence would be about 1 km long. Except perhaps where it would cross the outlet trench, no special physical obstacle to fencing is present.
Many of the features described are liability concerns to present owners. Some legal authorities are said to hold that liability risks are greater when an area is fenced than when it is in its natural condition. This should not be a deterrent to fencing, however, and it may increase the possibility that the current owners would give the land to the state upon mere request.
Barring unexpected discoveries when its cavernous extensions are mapped in detail, a representative area could be enclosed within a rectangle about 400 m long and 150 m wide, extending along the rift. This is shown on the attached 1: 24,000 map. An addition of a few hundred m2 north of the summit cone would add a desirable representative sample of shelly pahoehoe tubes and subsidence cavities, as well as
providing direct access from the Kaupulehu ahupuaa road.
Halliday, William R. 1992. Caves and associated features of open vertical volcanic conduits of the Kaupulehu lava flows xenolith nodule beds, Hualalai volcano, Hawaii: basic speleological considerations. Report # 9205, Hawaii Speleological Survey, December.
Halliday, William R. 1994. A notable compound volcanic pit on the southeast rift zone of Hualalai volcano, Hawaii County: initial data and conclusions. Report # 9402, Hawaii Speleological Survey, July.
Halliday, William R. in press. Recent vulcanospeleological progress in Hawaii. Proceedings, 7th International Symposium on vulcanospeleology, Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain, November 6, 1994. Preprint published as Hawaii Speleological Survey Report # 9404, November 1994.
Moore, Richard B. and David A. Clague. 1991. Geologic map of Hualalai volcano, Hawaii. U.S. Geological Survey Misc. Investigations Series Map 12213.
Anyone traveling to the cave country of Virginia and West Virginia these days can't help but notice the profusion of orange and red "Wampler" signs that dot the highway, backed by long, low, windowless buildings in the nearby fields. For those who may not know, these are poultry buildings, usually chickens, sometimes turkeys.
Poultry is big business in the Virginias these days, and Wampler is just one of several agribusiness firms that contract with local farmers to essentially baby-sit the birds. In order to get set up in the poultry business, all one needs is enough land for the buildings. Wampler or some other firm often will provide financing for construction. Wampler provides the feed, so there is no need for cropland. Wampler provides the birds and trucks them off to make chicken nuggets, usually four times a year. What doesn't Wampler do? Wampler doesn't remove the manure. Like all creatures, chickens create manure and lots of chickens packed into these houses create lots of it.
With cropland at a premium in the hill country, there is little suitable land on which to spread manure four times a year. Most livestock farmers that raise their own feed have land on which to spread manure. However, this is not necessarily true with the poultry farmers. Where there is land available, the sheer volume of manure can easily outstrip the capacity of the land to assimilate it. This has happened in Lancaster Country PA, and will happen here.
Where does all this manure go? Many dump truck loads of it were dumped in the Baker quarry on Rt. 55 when we drove past over Easter; on a recent trip to Carols Crack, located in the quarry, it was noted that the manure had recently been removed but pools of heavily contaminated water remained behind. After a summer thunderstorm, these pools were observed to be flowing across the road and into Lost River. While some of this manure is certainly being put to good use, it seems that the magnitude of this manure management problem has yet to be fully realized. Until it does, we are likely to see increasing amounts of animal waste dumped in sinkholes and finding its way to our surface and sub-surface waters.
Editors Note: For a more detailed report on the effects of poultry growing on caves, see Cave Conservationist Vol 13 No. 5.
Source, article by M. Fernandez, Cdr. Cody's Chronicle, Fall 1994)
To many of us cavers, the question of moving the lunchroom from its deep underground site was a simple one. Why not have the facility on the surface, now that elevators are there to whisk tired travelers up so they don't have walk back out? After all, wouldn't the facility employ as many people and attract as many people if on the surface?
Well, friends, it's not quite that simple. Some substantial money benefits accrue to the concessionaire if the facility stays where it is. Under the current contract between the Park Service and the concessionaire, concessions would be compensated only by the depreciated book value for possessory interest if the facility is closed, whereas they would be compensated at current appraised value if it remains open but the next contract is awarded to another bidder. This would be a substantial gain for private business at the expense of cave conservation.
Has anyone thought of finding private/public funds to buy off the concessionaire or the problem will never go away?
Understandably cavers have some reservations about this invitation to give agencies of the federal government names of significant caves in their area. Some fear that this will become a channel through which cave locations will become better known and the resulting increase cave use will threaten the resource. Others hope that by providing the information we can expect the government agency to cooperate in adequate protection of the resource. Below is how Ray Keeler of the Central Arizona Grotto prefaced their submission of significant caves (copied from Jan. 1995 Cave Crawler's Gazette):
Enclosed are nominations for the caves the Grotto would like to submit for inclusion on the Significant Caves list. The Grotto began this process in July 1994 with the creation of a Significant Cave Nominating Committee. The committee defined criteria necessary for this initial submission. These criteria are: caves perceived to be in danger and in need of management, caves on maps, and caves with gates. All of the enclosed cave nominations were approved at the October 1994 Grotto meeting. Of the five federal land management groups, the Grotto restricted itself, with one exception, to Forest Service and BLM lands, leaving out Indian lands, National Parks/Monuments, and Military Reservations. The committee voted to place copyrights on all materials submitted by the Grotto.
Specifically omitted were caves that were personal project and both secret and non-secret caves that were not considered to be in danger. Individuals may of course submit caves on their own. Some members of the Grotto are adamantly opposed to this process. Many others want to make the effort to determine how well this process will work. Despite assurances of the nominating process, there is concern as to the distribution and storage of the information in either physical files or computer data bases, thus leading to increased traffic in the caves. Why? We have two instances this year in Arizona, where cave files on two different Forest Service districts were copied or stolen.
The second major concern has been the limited resources available to manage these caves currently known by the land managers. We hope that once some of these non-renewable resources are brought to the attention of land managers, additional dollars will be allocated to impose proper management. In many cases the better known caves have been poorly managed, though there are a couple of wonderful exceptions.
Good luck in your efforts to help protect these fragile resources.
Tina Hall NSS 35695, TNC staff in West Virginia, writing in Winter 1994 issue of TNC's West Virginia Chapter News.
The leaves crunch under our feet as we walk through the early winter woods. The woods look nondescript, bare stark trees with uniform brown leaves strewn across the forest floor. An occasional gray rock pokes its head out of the leaves.
Most hikers would give the woods only a brief glance of interest before moving on. However there is more in these woods than the passing hiker realizes. There is a complex, diverse, breathtaking beautiful natural community hidden in these winter woods.
"Is this what you were looking for?" the landowner asks. We have stopped at a hole in the ground. We have arrived at a small surface outcrop of rocks with an opening three feet wide and four feet high. When we bend down to more closely examine the opening, we can feel warm, moist air blowing from the dark entrance. A dry fern at the hole's mouth flutters gently in the breeze caused by the air exiting the hole.
The landowner looks skeptical. "I've known about this hole for years, but I thought it was nothing more than a dirty, wet drain." I ponder the landowner's statement and realize that his comment about this "useless hole" are predictably shared by the majority of West Virginians including most Nature Conservancy members.
What we are standing next to is a cave entrance. Caves, being far from dark, cold areas devoid of life, harbor a variety of unique natural communities. West Virginia has over 3,300 limestone caves, caused by subterranean limestone being dissolved by water. The formation of caves is a slow process taking tens of thousands, to hundreds of thousands, of years. West Virginia is usually ranked fourth in the nation for its total number of caves and also has eleven of the world's fifty longest caves. West Virginia caves have their share of beautiful and delicate formations. Stalagmites, stalactites, drip pools, glistening columns, and many other unusual geological formations can be found in West Virginia caves. Several West Virginia caves have historic importance as they were mined for saltpeter in the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Saltpeter was an important ingredient in making gunpowder. However, it is the diversity and unique life forms that make caves truly unique, and it is this life that most surprises landowners.
Scientists studying caves have calculated that there are over five hundred species of cave-limited animals living in caves in West Virginia and Virginia. Many of these animals have evolved in a single cave and are found no place else in the world!
I pull a picture out of my notebook and show the landowner a picture of a small white amphipod unique to his cave. He looks at the small, white creature that looks very much like a shrimp, if you shrunk a shrimp down to the size of the tip of your fingernail. "Why should I care about something like that?" he asks. While it is true that much of the diversity in caves are small, boneless aquatic "bug-like" creatures, these creatures play an important role in the cave community and in the human community.
The landowner nodded in recognition, when I asked if he was familiar with the old habit of miners taking a canary into the mines. Canaries were susceptible to low doses of poisonous gases in the mine. If the canary began to act ill, the miners knew that they were in danger of gases, even though they could not yet feel the effects. I then explained that this little amphipod in the cave was much like a canary for clean water. The amphipod and other cave creatures need clean, uncontaminated sources of water in which to live. If we see a decline in the number of amphipods we then may question the quality of the water. Finding lots of amphipods in a cave system usually means that the landowner's adjacent well has good water quality. In the United States 40% of the groundwater used for drinking comes from limestone/cave aquifers.
"Besides these little aquatic animals, do bats live in West Virginia caves?" the landowner next asked. I explained that bats are unique animals that do use West Virginia caves. Bats have been misunderstood and mistakenly feared. Bats are a diverse group of mammals that are not related to rodents as most people believe. One out of every four mammal species is a bat. Bats can eat hundreds of mosquitoes an hour on a summer night. The fear of bats as carriers of rabies is often exaggerated. In the past forty years, only ten people were suspected to have contracted rabies from bats.
In West Virginia, at least eight species of bats use caves during part of the year. Some species of bats use caves as a winter hibernation roost. Because caves have a relatively stable, cool temperatures, they make ideal hibernating areas for bats. Other bats use caves to raise their young in the summer. Two species of bats in West Virginia have been listed as federally endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The federally endangered Indiana Bat uses caves in West Virginia to hibernate in. One cave protects over 5,000 Indiana Bats each winter. The second federally endangered bat, the unique-looking Virginia Big-Eared Bat, uses West Virginia caves in the winter to hibernate, and in the summer to raise their young. Most of the Virginia Big-eared Bats in the world live in West Virginia, including the largest known concentration of hibernating individuals and the largest known maternity colony of females.
Once again peering down into the dark hole, the landowner got down on his knees and peered in with a flashlight. "I had no idea there was life in these things."
I got down next to the cave and pointed to the small ferns and mosses growing at the cave entrance. "It's not just the rare animals, or clean water, that make a cave unique, but the whole complex interaction of animals, water, and organic material that makes a cave a unique ecosystem, just like a barrier reef, or mountain bog. Some caves may have unique plants that grow in the cool, sheltered entrance overhangs. As you move further into the cave, a cave stream may play an important role, or large mud banks may be full of organic material providing food and energy for cave animals."
So many different cave communities exist that recently a researcher from the American University in Washington DC was hired by The Nature Conservancy to classify cave communities in West Virginia and Virginia. The Nature Conservancy hopes to protect examples of these different community types, not just due to the rare species in the cave but due to the rare and unique cave communities that these species live in.
Cave protection continues to be a priority for The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia. The Conservancy owns five caves and has a Cave Registry program that protects many more. Water contamination, construction, and misuse by humans continue to be threats to West Virginia caves. Many caves can be protected by simply letting a landowner know about the significant cave on their property. On this particular day the landowner agreed to voluntarily register his cave in our Cave Registry program. This program allows the Conservancy to monitor the health of the cave and gives the landowner a person to contact with questions or management options. The landowner does not give up any property rights with the registry agreement and the location and access to the cave remain the right of the landowner to disclose or keep private.
The next time you are out on your farm or hiking through the woods, remember that what is above ground is not the only natural community you may have. You may be lucky enough to have a unique, diverse ecosystem hidden under your feet.
The Ozark Chapter Conservation Committee of the Sierra Club is forming a task force to monitor bat populations in Missouri and follow recovery efforts for the endangered bat species. Taskforce members will do research, make telephone calls, and meet with experts to learn more about bat populations in Missouri. Terms of task force members will last approximately one year. (Source: July/August 1994 Ozark Sierran, noted by Lois Walsh and reprinted in the February 1995 Meramec Caver.)
(MSS Liaison, February 1995, article by Jim Huckins)
Not much is known about the ecology of Ozark cave fish and the environmental conditions necessary for their survival. There is a growing awareness that human disturbance and changing land practices, leading to increased sediment and pollutant inputs into cave systems, may be adversely affecting cave fish populations. Of particular concern is the increased potential for inputs of sediments, nutrients and pollutants such as pesticides into pristine cave systems. Caves of the Springfield plateau are among the most threatened because of the rapid development in the southwestern part of Missouri. There the Ozark cave fish (Amblyopsis rosae) is found in a limited number of caves.
In the spring of 1994 Ken Lister, an MU graduate student and employee of Missouri Department of Conservation, approached me about the feasibility of using SPMDs (semipermeable membrane devices) to determine the possible presence of organic pollutants in selected Springfield plateau caves with the Ozark cave fish. SPMDs are a new type of device developed by our research group in Columbia, MO, at the Midwest Science Center, of the national Biological Service and patented by the U.S. Government. They are designed to mimic the way fish concentrate pollutants in their fatty tissues and provide a clear picture of whether pollutants are present in aquatic systems. Coincidentally, the president (Dr. Richard Schwarz) of the company (Environmental Sampling Technologies, St. Joseph, MO) that bought the SPMD patent rights, is a friend of Dr. David Ashley and has generously offered to process and analyze the SPMDs. Our group agreed to help and provided fifteen SPMDs with deployment structures, two each for five Missouri caves and two Oklahoma caves and a control. Ken deployed the SPMDs in the caves during summer of 1994 and the exposures lasted for sixty days. We were fortunate in that no losses of SPMDs occurred (flooding or vandalism) during the exposure. EST is currently processing and analyzing the devices for sequestered pollutants. The types of chemicals to be analyzed include pesticides, and industrial and energy-related contaminants. When the results of these analyses are available in the near future, we hope to be able to predict whether the aforementioned pollutants are possible stressors of Ozark cave fish populations.
The Western Region has grant money available for scientific research or conservation projects. Past grants have been awarded to Mike Sims for his study of ice deposits in northern California lava tubes and to Southern California Grotto for the printing of "Cave Law" cards, designed to inform individuals and commercial cave visitors about California's Cave Protection law. The money in the Western Region Conservation and Research Grant account has been donated specifically for this purpose and is separate from other Region funds. Each project can receive a maximum of $200, with conservation grants awarded on a "matching fund" basis. For more information contact Roger Mortimer at: Ave. 5, Madera CA 93637 or at: (209)674-7286. (Source: Fall 1994 California Caver.)
The initial formative period of this new Conservancy has ended, and for 1994 they report 72 Founding members and 104 regular members. They are going into a graduated membership structure ranging from $15.00 and up. They are working on a Cave Owner Packet which will include a brochure and fact sheet, among other things. They are also developing a press kit and new member packet. They have approximately $12,500 in total funds. The next MCKC Digest will have an article on "Great Caves Challenge/Significant Caves Inventory." In working on the significant cave list they will develop a checklist to use in gathering information, decide how to handle sensitive cave data, and procedures for getting nominations of significant caves per county.
(Source: Meramec Caver, February 1993)
An article in the October 1994 issue of Game News covered the gating of Schofer Cave, located on State Game Lands 182, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Highlights follow.
"Gating Schofer Cave represented an important first in our efforts to save Pennsylvania's bat species--some of which are endangered or threatened. Vandalism and other human disturbances had become so bad at the cave north of Kutztown that the bats stopped hibernating there years ago.
"Of the nine caves and mines we've gated, this is the only one that wasn't an active hibernation site. Nobody has tried such a restoration project before, and we'll be watching to see if bats reoccupy a cave once human disturbance has been eliminated.
"There are nine species of bats that live in Pennsylvania, and six of those also hibernate here. Three species are endangered to some extent, the Indiana bat is on the federal endangered list, the small-footed bat is threatened in Pennsylvania, and the northern myotis is classified as vulnerable. Along with habitat loss, pesticide use and public misconceptions, disturbances at hibernation sites (hibernacula) are the primary threats to these bats.
"When hibernating bats are aroused, whether by the most well-intentioned spelunkers or the most flagrant vandals, they expend energy needed to carry them through the winter. Too much disturbance and a bat may abort its young or even starve to death. Therefore, to protect hibernating bats, we began gating caves about ten years ago, and since then nine caves and mines (some 15 gates) have been protected.
"We're optimistic that bats will again use Schofer Cave. Bats have swarmed in front of the cave every fall, so they obviously know it's there, and some bats may have even been hibernating there, back in recesses where they couldn't be found.
"We'll census this cave this coming winter and the next to evaluate the effectiveness of the gate. After that it will likely be censused at two-year intervals. Finding only a half dozen or so bats this year would be considered a success, but we'll give the project ten years before drawing conclusions on the feasibility of gating unused caves.
"Caving will not be permitted at Schofer Cave for at least two years. At that time, supervised spelunking trips may be permitted during periods when the bats are not using the cave. It's safe to say, though, that unrestricted access to Schofer Cave has come to an end. To provide sanctuary for bats, and to quite a few rare aquatic invertebrates living in it, Schofer Cave is now being managed for wildlife.
"Gates must satisfy three functions: maintain adequate airflow, so as not to restrict or modify the cave environment; allow bats to easily fly through it; and keep out people. While every gate is customized to accommodate each cave opening, they are constructed of four-inch angle iron spaced so that bats can fly through the openings.
"In all our previous gating efforts, bat populations have slowly but methodically increased. A mine at Canoe Creek State Park, for example, contains more hibernating bats than any other known cave in the state. Since being gated in 1985, the number of bats hibernating there has grown from 3,000 to 12,000.
"This mine is also noteworthy because it's Pennsylvania's only known hibernation site for the Indiana bat, a species particularly susceptible to disturbances during hibernation. Only 26 Indiana bats hibernated at Canoe Creek before the gate was installed, but their numbers grew to around 300 in 1992. Unfortunately, vandals breached the cave in 1993, and bat numbers plummeted to 30."
(Source, Fall 1994 Loyalhanna Troglodyte.)
An AP dispatch printed in the Fairfax Journal 1/9/95 notes that the success of the state Dept. of Environmental Quality's plan to become more user-friendly for businesses may come at the expense of Virginia's natural resources. This began with streamlining of the agency under Gov. Wilder and is only like to worsen under Gov. Allen's proposals to slash budgets of many state agencies.
Past environmental disasters were cited: Allied Chemical's dumping of the pesticide kepone in the James River in the 1970s, the leaking Kim-Stan landfill in Alleghany County, and Avtex Fibers Inc.'s dumping PCBs in the Shenandoah River. In Virginia, only the applicant for a water-discharge permit can take the agency to court. For air permits, the law was recently changed to allow such judicial access, called "standing," to citizens who show an immediate, substantial, and pecuniary interest. The Allen administration has refused to change the rules on air permit challenges and defied warnings from the federal EPA to do so. Decentralization of many functions is planned along with large-scale downsizing of staff and overall budget. Whether this will improve the permitting process or so burden the seven regional offices that they won't be able to keep up with enforcement and inspection dates remains to be seen.
According to the April 1995 issue of Der Fledermaus, newsletter of the Flittermouse Grotto, the count of the rare and endangered Virginia Big-eared Bat this year conducted in Black Rock Cliff Cave on Grandfather Mountain by the N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was the biggest ever. The count of 173 counted in the 1995 census compared with only 31 last February and 139 in January 1992. The 1992 census was the most that had ever been counted prior to this year. The drop-off in the count in 1994 was thought to be weather-related. A warm spell just prior to last year's count may have prompted the bats to move around and be somewhere else at the time of the survey.
Grandfather Mountain is the only known population of the rare mammals in the state, although members of the colony are known to travel as far as Wilson Creek in the east and the Cranberry Iron Mines to the west. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has been keeping track of the Grandfather Big-eared Bat colony since 1981, when 34 bats were first discovered hibernating in the Black Rocks Cliff Cave. In August of 1986, officials placed a metal gate across the entrance of the cave with openings large enough to allow the bats to enter, but barrier enough to keep hikers from disturbing the bats during their fragile hibernation period. The population immediately jumped from a group of 20 bats in March of 1984 to 135 bats in December of 1988.
A radio telemetry research project has been inaugurated to study the habits of the Big-eared Bats. Assisting the agencies conducting the research will be Cato and Susan Holler of the North Carolina Cave Survey. Researchers will attach radio transmitters to the bats to monitor their movements. The experiment was designed to help the scientists learn where the females go to have their babies and where the bats go to feed. This information will help the state protect the nursery locations from being disturbed during the baby bats' first critical three weeks of life when they are still flightless, and it will help the Wildlife Commission protect the bats' food supply when they learn their feeding range.
The dreaded Gypsy Moth has been sighted in the northern mountain and spraying for the pest will take place this summer as close by as Boone, Todd, Jefferson, and Marion. The primary chemical used in this spraying is a bacterial agent known as BT which kills butterflies and moths in the caterpillar stage. Because the Big-eared Bats feed almost exclusively on moths, and because BT kills all moths indiscriminately, Wildlife officials are working with the state agricultural department to give them information on the bats' feeding grounds with hopes that alternative methods can be employed to protect the Grandfather forest from the Gypsy Moth without destroying all of the bats' food sources.
These projects are supported by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. The Fund was established in 1983 when the North Carolina Legislature added a line to the North Carolina income tax form that allows individuals to donate a portion of their income tax refund to the NC Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. Between 300 and 325 thousand North Carolinians each contribute $5 to $40 every year, making this a truly grass roots effort to preserve North Carolina's endangered wildlife.
Most cavers by now have heard about the largest urban bat colony in the world, over a million Mexican free-tailed bats, that roost beneath a bridge in the heart of Austin, Texas. The success of Austin's Congress Avenue Bridge as a major tourist attraction has sparked interest from other Texan communities. After
Merlin Tuttle addressed the annual Bridge Designers' Conference of the Texas Department of Transportation, department engineers began thinking seriously about how to attract bats to other bridges.
BCI and the Texas Department of Transportation began a multi-year cooperative project this past spring to survey other bridges throughout Texas and determine which designs best attract bats and why. The new project is a follow-up to a pilot study conducted in 1991, which concentrated primarily on Central Texas.
Over this past spring and summer more than 600 bridges were examined throughout Texas. Although only some fifty provided the right roosting conditions for bats, those that did accommodated an enormous number of bats--possibly as many as six million individuals--mostly free-tails. This demonstrates the importance of bridges as roost habitat in Texas.
Using the additional data and detailed measurements resulting from the new study, BCI is working with bridge design engineers to discover the most effective and practical methods to meet bat needs without adding to bridge costs as new ones are built or others are repaired. The Texas Department of Transportation is already making slight adjustments when building bridge types appropriate for bat roosts, and this year alone may have created enough new habitat to accommodate a million additional bats. Without this cooperative project, older bridges would gradually have been lost as bat roosts. Experiments are also under way to retrofit some existing bridges with structures that will accommodate bats. In the first test on a bridge near Austin, bats moved in within five days.
Building significant wildlife habitat into Texas bridges could become a national and international model. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is already using the findings to advise state highway departments on bridge construction projects.
Although current evidence tends to indicate that bridges will prove to be good bat habitats only in southern regions or in warmer areas of the West, there may be exceptions. Eventually the project will expand to include other parts of the country. BCI would like to hear about any bridges now occupied by bats anywhere in the country (BCI, Att: Bats and Bridges Coordinator, P O Box 162603, Austin TX 78716 tel., (512) 327-9721.
(Source: Bats, Winter 1994, newsletter of Bat Conservation International)
Thirteen European nations have now signed a pact that aims for coordinated protection of Europe's thirty bat species. Previously each country had its own attitude toward bats, and in some areas they were protected and in others they were not. Because countries are so close together, many bats cross national lines as they migrate seasonally.
For example, the greater horseshoe bats migrate between the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. These bats have declined dramatically in the past several years--their populations dropping from the thousands to the hundreds.
The agreement will help safeguard roosts and feeding sites needed to maintain healthy bat populations.
(Source: Huntsville Grotto Newsletter, February 1995, found by a member in "The New Garden Journal.")
Judy Fisher, chair of Tri-State grotto and also co-chair of conservation for VAR, attended a week-long workshop hosted last August by Bat Conservation International and the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Participants were lodged at Green Hills Camp, in Barree PA, an old iron works facility with a large mansion house, manager's house, and iron works. The following is excerpted from her report printed in the December 1994 Dead Dog Dispatch, newsletter of the Tri-State Grotto.
Our first evening we were introduced to Dr. Merlin Tuttle of BCI and presented with a slide show, "The World of Bats." I had seen the slide show previously when J. C. and I attended a lecture in Washington DC last October on Halloween at the National Geographic, presented by Dr. Tuttle. The first night at Green Hills Camp was spent waking up every time the train whistle blew at the railroad crossing. This seemed to be every hour although I'm sure it wasn't.
Monday was filled with lectures and discussions, "Habitat Assessment," "Threats to Bat Survival," and "Bat Identification." Our field trip on this day was going to an old Girl Scout camp to study bat habitats and to locate areas to set up mist nets and traps. The afternoon consisted of training in setting up the mist nets properly and taking them down properly. There is a right way and a wrong way. After dinner we headed back to the Girl Scout camp to set up for our first night's work.
I was with the group that set up three mist nets around a small pond below the Girl Scout camp consisting of two 42' and one 10' mist net. I had been the
only person with a bat detector so I got it out and we all sat around listening and patiently waiting for the bats. It seemed like hours before our first bat was netted. Our first bat was a female Red Bat. Later a Flying Squirrel was caught in one of the nets set up closer to he Girl Scout Camp. While everyone else was oohing and ahhing over the squirrel, I went back with Jim Kennedy, who is a caver and with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, to check our net and found a Red Bat. This was my opportunity to get my first bat from the net. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I felt like I was going to hurt her but you soon realize their resiliency. Our first night out mist netting wasn't great; we didn't net very many bats. In mist netting, one learns that the full moonlight and weather do make a difference. We arrived back at Camp Green Hills around 11:30 or so.
Tuesday morning our lecture on "Cave and Mine Assessment for Bat Use" started at 8:30 A.M. Bats use caves and mines for hibernating and nurseries. Bats look at a site much as we would to move into--is it a safe neighborhood and is the temperature right? Determining the use of cave and mines by bats can be done by roost stains and guano deposits. The field trip today was to Canoe Creek State Park to visit the mines. The mines have been gated as they are used for six (6) species of hibernating bats. Since I was the only caver in the class, I got to do some climbing into a few holes. The mine is huge and it even has a few formations. After lunch, some of us went for a hike on one of the trails around the Camp during the free time. The afternoon lectures involved study techniques demonstration and educating and involving the public. At night we went back to the mines to mist net and set up the harp traps at the entrances. It was marvelous sitting at the entrance with bats flying all around your head. By the way, always wear a hat. This night most of the bats caught were Little Browns (Myotis lucifugus).
Wednesday Cal Butchkoski, Pennsylvania Game Commission, gave our morning lecture and discussion on "Artificial Roosts as Conservation Tools" (bat houses). Cal showed us slides of various bat houses used by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Cal has designed different bat houses, vertical and horizontal houses, single and double sizes. Cal showed the use of bat houses on the sides of houses, garages, and on hosts. Following the presentation, our field trip took us to various sites where bat houses are in use. During our after-lunch break, some of us decided to tour Lincoln Caverns (small but with some very beautiful sections).
The rest of the afternoon was spent learning about Bat Tracking with radio transmitters and antennas. We were given the opportunity to try the equipment by tracking a hidden transmitter. We then continued lectures on solving nuisance and public health problems. This was dealing with Bats-in-Buildings and working with people about their fears of disease from bats. Also working with pest control operators and Public Health officials.
Our evening field trip was spent back at Canoe Creek State Park at the Beaver Pond area. This area was beautiful and secluded. We set up mist nets on both sides of a small bridge at the ponds. On one side three (3) nets were set up and the other side one (1) net. As dusk approached, we turned on the bat detector to listen. We heard and saw several bats but none in our mist nets. We all patiently relaxed by lying on the bridge watching the stars twinkling and satellites zooming overhead. Around 10:00 P.M. we called it a night. Guess what? No bats tonight! We were to net at least one bat for our bat tracking session on Thursday. Oops!
Thursday morning we discussed the possibilities as to why no bats were netted on Wednesday night. The possibilities were: (1) Dew on the nets made the nets too heavy and made the nets more visible. (2) It was very foggy in the area around the Beaver Pond. The fog interferes with the bat's echolocation. (3) The activity of the insects dropped as the evening wore on.
Dr. Tuttle then proceeded to show us how to place a transmitter on a Brown Bat but not actually placing the transmitter on our little friend that had been previously caught. He was used only for demonstration. This was to have been done Wednesday night after the Beaver Pond mist netting session. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour for the placing of the transmitter process. I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to participate in the procedure.
The Thursday afternoon lecture involved "Conflict Avoidance." Dr. Tuttle told us some of his experiences in dealing with governments, corporations, and individuals. Listening and understanding the reasoning of both sides.
Thursday evening I opted to go to Huntingdon Rocks to mist net. We netted a few bats but were driven from our quest by a thunder and lightening storm.
Friday morning, I got up for the 4:00 A.M. trip to the church at Canoe Creek State Park to watch the bats return. The church is used as a nursery habitat. It was great, what else can I say--YOU HAD TO BE THERE!
This was the most interesting, fascinating, and educational week I have spent in a long time. So often we hear and read about the bats of other countries and the western part of the United States. I wanted to learn more about the bats in the eastern part of the United States and I did with this experience in Barree, Pennsylvania. BCI will be doing this workshop again in Pennsylvania next year. If you get the opportunity to participate--DO IT!
Source: Birmingham Grotto Newsletter, January 1995
This is a local development in Jackson County, Alabama. A legislator there wanted to levy a fee on cavers wishing to cave in the area. He proposed a fee of $5 to $10 per caver per cave, to help pay for the expenses of cave rescues. Many cavers in the Huntsville Grotto and the Scottsboro area objected to this and came up with an alternative method of raising money for the purpose. The legislator has agreed to drop the issue if monies can indeed be raised by the proposed means.
The Huntsville Grotto will be printing and selling bumper stickers for the Scottsboro-Jackson County Rescue Squad. They will be three inches in diameter, yellow and green, and will state "Cavers support the Scottsboro-Jackson County Rescue Squad." You can get a sticker for a $5.00 donation--and you can donate more and get extra stickers for your fellow cavers.
This approach to what may be a problem in many caving areas is worth considering. If our hobby is costing the locals money, maybe we should pay something.
This fall the National Cave Management Symposium is within a reasonable distance from Washington. It will be in Indiana, an area that will be remembered by attendees at the Salem IN convention--at the Spring Mill State Park, October 25-28. Worth considering if you want a few days in Indiana in the fall. Information: Larry Mullins (812) 358-2675 (days) or Keith Dunlap (317) 882-5420 (evenings).
Check the Cave Conservationist last issue for more detailed information.
Over the weekend of October 29-31, 1994, Trish Lindaman from the Lakeview BLM office signed in 128 cavers from the Willamette Valley and Oregon Grotto as volunteers. The goals for the day were to remove the bolt anchors, filling the resultant holes with epoxy; remove charcoal from fire rings; scrub spray paint graffiti from the walls. Although an official invitation had been extended to the climbers to participate in the restoration project, none appeared. (Derrick was one of the caves left disfigured by the placement of eight anchor bolts on the walls and ceiling.
The bolt removal team worked from aluminum extension ladders, quickly disassembling hardware. Once the bolts were removed, the remaining holes were injected with a slow setting epoxy, then sand was pressed into the epoxy masking evidence of the hole. This process worked so well that the holes became invisible immediately after filling.
The second team grabbed shovels, trash bags, and set to removing the numerous fire rings that were in the cave between the entrance and the skylight. Rocks were rolled to cover the blackened surfaces with the sand of the floor. Ash and trash was shoveled into garbage sacks and bag after bag was hauled up to the BLM pickup. The floor was restored to a normal gradient and sand (and, when appropriate, debris from the skylight) was sprinkled over the restoration area.
At the end of the cave, orange fluorescent spray that had been prayed on a rock and the walls was removed. This was quite a challenge, since the surface was dry, our water supply was limited, and we had not brought bladder bags. Two steel-bristled brushes were worn out on the job. Then some sherpas brought more water and some sand from the entrance. Finally, a slurry of water, sand, and charcoal (found on site thanks to NASA) proved to be the trick. The orange spray painted sign "THE END" is no longer there.
The Bureau of Land Management has completed a restoration project at Derrick Cave. (See accompanying article.) One of the outcomes of this work is the establishment of new use rules. They are contained in this sign posted at the cave entrance:
Derrick Cave is located within the Devils Garden Wilderness Study Area (WSA). This 29,680-acre area has been studied and found suitable for future wilderness designation because of its natural condition and outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation. Although this WSA may appear rough and barren, it supports fragile ecosystems, such as this cave, which can easily be damaged by careless actions.
Caves contain a variety of sensitive features. These include rare or endangered plants and animals, geologic features, formations, evidence of past human use, and microorganisms that have been undisturbed for thousands of years. In particular, bats in this area are decreasing in number at an alarming rate. It is the responsibility of every cave visitor to protect these resources.
Think about the consequences of your actions in this cave. Anytime you bring in a large number of people, build a campfire or smoke a cigarette, you raise the air temperature which disturbs bats and microorganisms living here. Smoke from a campfire, even if it right beneath the skylight, travels all the way to the end of the cave. Climbing and bolting in the cave leaves behind human-caused impacts that are not in keeping with the WSA's natural character.
Take nothing But Pictures
Kill Nothing But Time
Leave No Trace
(This notice from BLM, 1000 S. 9th, PO Box 151, Lakeview OR 97630 (503)947-2177 was reprinted in the Oregon Grotto's December 1994 Speleograph.)
An Oige, the Irish Youth Hostel Association have just completed some research on how long litter takes to decay; plastic bags ten to twenty years, aluminum cans five hundred years, plastic bottles and styrofoam indefinitely.
This is particularly depressing when considered with reference to Noon's Hole which, last month, was found to be a handy receptacle for huge quantities of polystyrene packaging, polythene sheeting and pieces of carpet.
Noon's was the subject of a large scale rubbish clearance back in the early eighties and since then has remained relatively rubbish-free except for the ubiquitous selection of sheep; more since the introduction of a fee for carcass collection.
Most of the rubbish was resting on the main ledge half way down the pot and so a major cleanup was planned. The day before this took place the spell of dry weather broke and torrential rain had the dual effect of preventing the cleanup and washing the rubbish further into the system.
Just how great was the effect of the rain was seen the next week when the depleted group returned. Only a small percentage of the rubbish remained on the ledge. The rest had been washed further into the system.
Fermanagh District Council had provided a skip, bags and gloves so the remaining offending rubbish was hauled out.
Interestingly in the short time that the skip was in place it was filled with cookers, fridges and other assorted rubbish which, we can only speculate, would also have ended up at the bottom of Noon's.
Since then, a trip into Arch 2 through the connection from Noon's revealed that the rubbish has already started its journey to the Arch Resurgence with quantities of polythene and dead rat draped along the streamway plus polystyrene balls rather than foam marking flood levels.
It will take a long time for all the rubbish to make its way through this, one of the classic trips in Ireland.
Partly in response to this incident Fermanagh District Council have, with the agreement of the landowner, agreed to remove the stile which facilitates easy access to the head of the pot and also improve fencing around the pot.
A recent development to the rubbish problem comes in the form of the new Litter (Northern Ireland) Order 1994 which came into force October '94.
The order gives both public and the council increased powers to tackle the litter problem.
To meet the requirements Fermanagh District Council have, for example, divided the county into four zones (red for town, blue for tourist route etc.).
Each zone has different grades which specify response times in which the area must be restored to rubbish free.
The Order gives the local authority power to hand out on the spot fines. On the other hand, if anyone wishes to complain about a littered site they can contact the council giving them five days notice that they intend to take court action. How deep does this Litter Order extend?
(Source: Caves & Caving, April 1995)
By Don Drees, Park Naturalist, Meramec State Park
In 1966, Congress authorized construction of the Meramec Dam for flood control and recreational purposes. Land acquisition began in 1968. Many Midwestern cavers were
greatly disappointed when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who were to build the dam, annexed Mushroom Cave from Meramec State Park. The Corps of Engineers needed the land around and directly above Mushroom Cave to build a road to a visitor's center they planned to construct. It would overlook the construction site of the dam just east of Mushroom Cave in the Meramec River valley.
Cavers were very disappointed (yes, even enraged) when the Corps completely closed Mushroom Cave to visitation. To keep people out, the Corps built gates of half-inch rebar over all three entrances to the cave.
The Corps closed Mushroom Cave because they were concerned that blasting during construction of the roadbed would weaken the cave's ceiling and make it too unstable for people to be inside at one spot. Where the road was to pass over the cave there was only 20 feet of thickness between the surface and the cave ceiling and only half of the thickness was solid rock.
For decades, Mushroom Cave has been one of the more popular caves in the Meramec State Park area. It has a long history of use by local residents and people from St. Louis who use Meramec State Park and the Meramec River for recreational activities. As a consequence, the Corps found it nearly impossible to keep gates secure on the cave.
Opposition to the dam, and the lake it would create, quickly arose and they soon became very controversial topics. The opposition became so widespread and vocal that by 1978 Missouri's congressional delegation, led by Senator Tom Eagleton, called for a local referendum. On August 8, 1978, 64 percent of the voters in East-Central Missouri, said "no" to the Meramec Dam. Had the dam been built the impoundment, at flood pool, would have covered 23,000 acres, including 63 miles of popular floatable waterways and most of Onondaga and 100 other caves.
After congressional deauthorization of the project, the Corps transferred ownership of Mushroom Cave back to Meramec State Park in 1982. As senior naturalist at the park, I inherited the responsibility of determining how to manage the cave.
When I made my assessment of the cave, I could not see any indication of an unstable ceiling. Despite the disgusting presence of a lot of spray-painted names and initials, I was impressed by the quantity and quality of the cave's speleothems. And I was also impressed by the quantity and diversity of the cave fauna, especially the number of hibernating bats. By simply walking through the main passage, I saw more than 150 solitary bats of four different species, although there were no bat clusters. (A much more thorough survey on 11/10/94 revealed 175 bats.)
Based on these observations, I made the recommendation that the park manage Mushroom Cave as a permit cave. At that time we had no provisions in our state park cave management policy for prohibiting access to a cave containing significant numbers of hibernating, non-endangered bats during their hibernation period. Bats that are federally listed as endangered species are protected in state parks under policies established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Caves that have hibernating Indiana or Gray bats are closed from September 1 through April 30 each year. Caves that have bachelor or maternity Gray bat colonies are closed from April 1 through October 31.
In Bats (Vol. 9, No. 3, 1991), Merlin D. Tuttle says, "A severe winter compounded by human disturbance could spell disaster for a hibernating bat. Only three extra arousals beyond the normal could cost the bat its life."
In light of the increasing understanding by scientists of the vulnerability of hibernating bats, I am proposing that it is time the Missouri Department of Natural Resources considers the detrimental effects that the state park system's current cave management practices are having on non-endangered bats. Although the more common cave hibernating bats might not become in danger of extinction, their populations would certainly grow if human-caused hibernation mortality were reduced.
In 1989, Meramec State Park issued permits to a total of 220 people for access to Mushroom Cave. By 1993, the number had soared to 715 people who ran the gamut from complete novices to biospeleologists. As Don Toole said in the April '94 issue of the Digest, "The caving 'Age of Innocence' is all but over. The carefree days of spelunking are gone." Don points out that this is due in large part to burgeoning population growth. It is my observation that the popularity of caving is growing many times faster than our human population.
Thus, Mushroom Cave has become a catalyst for a meeting this January between Missouri state park cave managers and state bat biologists to begin a debate on just what constitutes a significant number of hibernating, non-endangered bats in need of protection. Since the outcome of this discussion is likely to change the Missouri State Park Cave Policy, input from the caving community is both needed and important. If the current cave management policy is amended to protect significant numbers of non-endangered hibernating bats, it will probably affect from three to six of the 150 caves in Missouri state parks. In a case where a cave is closed to protect Gray bats in the summer, but is a cave which also has significant numbers of non-endangered hibernating bats in the winter Winter access would still be possible but the park would look at options to minimize disturbance of the bats.
A second part of the Mushroom Cave management dilemma deals with the controversial topic of closing a cave to encourage bats to recolonize it.
When the Corps eventually closed down their Sullivan office, I became the recipient of documents pertinent to several bat research studies they had commissioned. Unfortunately, I didn't get the code sheet identifying which caves were the focus of the studies. Last winter Rick Clawson, a bat biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, provided me with a copy of the code sheet. It was the key to a wealth of information.
In the Corps documents, Brian Wilcox, a naturalist at Meramec State Park, discovered some remarkable data. In one document it was mentioned that in 1957, bat biologist Richard Meyers noted a viable Indiana bat hibernation colony of at least 450 bats in Mushroom Cave. According to Clawson, only 24 of Missouri's 5,400 caves have had documented Indiana bat hibernation colonies of over 100 individuals. This is due to this particular bat's requirements for a precise hibernation microclimate.
Although it may be overly optimistic on my part to hope that Indiana bats return to this cave any time soon (given their continuing and alarming population decline), limiting access to Mushroom Cave during the hibernation period might allow them to recolonize the cave. Consequently, this combination of bat hibernation concerns has led me to recommend that Mushroom Cave be closed to recreational caving from October 1 through April 15, starting in the fall of 1995.
This closed period would be 1.5 months shorter than the recommended closed period for Indiana bat hibernaculum, I believe this would be an effective compromise that would protect non-endangered species currently hibernating in Mushroom Cave. It would also provide Indiana bats with the opportunity to recolonize the cave. Of course, if they did recolonize the cave, the longer closed period would go into effect.
Some of the questions that readers can give me suggestions or information on include:
My thanks to the MCKC Digest for providing this forum to solicit on this important issue. You may send your comments to Dan Dress, Naturalist, Meramec State Park, HC65, Box 4, Sullivan, MO 63080.
Permission has been granted by the MCKC Digest for reprinting Dan Dress' article in NSS newsletters.
The Meramec Caver also printed this descriptive material about Mushroom Cave in a separate feature:
"The entrance to Mushroom Cave is almost 150 feet above the Meramec River and only 2,500 feet from it," wrote J Harlen Bretz (Caves of Missouri, 1956). "There are two other openings. One of them is 500 feet nearer the river, and the third is a crawlway. . . . All lie at about the same altitude, and their total horizontal spread is about 1,100 feet. Not one of them is a real cross section of the cave chamber. All are the result of erosional intersection of the cave by widening of Meramec valley."
The middle entrance of Mushroom cave was used to bring manure wagons in and mushrooms out when the cave was used for mushroom farming nearly a century ago. There is a corresponding collapsed cave canyon below this entrance on the surface. Due to its northern exposure and the supply of cool air and water the cave sends into it, this one-acre canyon is a lush habitat for terrestrial species that are characteristic of more northern climates.
The east entrance of Mushroom Cave was used when the cave was a show cave operation. The east passageway contains the cave's most lavish and massive speleothems. Mineralization is so heavy in some places that mappers of the cave in 1960 found it necessary to invent some new symbols for use on their detailed layout of the cave (Missouri Speleology, Vol. 2, No. 2, April 1960).
Although Mushroom Cave's speleothems have been abused, many of them are still quite beautiful.
The middle entrance of the cave leads directly into the cave's most spacious corridor where one room is 100 feet long by 50 feet wide by 20 feet high. A large trunk line passage continues for more than 800 feet.
A description of the cave written for Missouri Speleology in 1960 called attention to a section of the cave along this main corridor where the ceiling "has developed an unnatural-looking pitch, in some places with the rock slab ceiling actually bowing downward a maximum of 17 degrees."
Geologically, the cave is in rocks of the Eminence and Gasconade formation, both of which are cherty dolomites. Most of the main passage is parallel to the Elm Spring Fault and some portions of the cave are intersected by it.
Mushroom Cave is an excellent example of a major cave in a prominent state park where geologic research is needed. For more than a century the cave has been popular with local people, park visitors, and cavers. Yet existing descriptions of the cave and its features are not detailed, research done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not been evaluated and published, and little is known about the Elm Spring Fault.
Bretz found some mystifying aspects to the cave when he compared it to nearby Fisher's Cave also in the park. "The caves are only two miles apart," he wrote. "They are on the same side of the valley, in the same formation, and are much alike. Why should the entrance of Fisher's Cave be more than 100 feet lower than that of Mushroom Cave?"
The mystery might be answered by information the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers obtained when they drilled three holes into the hill and down through the cave in the early 1970s to see how deep it was to bedrock. To their surprise, the clay fill on the floor of Mushroom Cave turned out to be more than 100 feet deep!
Excerpted from an article by John C. Sawhill, President & CEO of The Nature Conservancy.
I view the Conservancy's work with what has been called "sustainable development" as an investment in the brightest hope we have for ensuring a healthy future for all of the Earth's living things. Because, unless we can discover ways of living that integrate the competing imperatives of economic opportunity and environmental protection, we will never be able to reverse the alarming decline of species and natural habitats.
. . .
Let me tell you why I'm so optimistic. Earlier this year I visited one of the Conservancy's most innovative "Last Great Places" projects, the Clinch River valley of southwest Virginia. Nestled deep in the rugged mountains of Appalachia, this valley is also home to people, the residents of small communities with names like Dante, Hamlin, and Castlewood.
Many of these communities have fallen on hard times. The area's traditional economic base--coal and tobacco--has been declining steadily, leaving local residents with limited opportunities and little hope. This is an all-too-common pattern in rural communities across America: the difficult transition from old, resource-based economies to something new. And too often the environment pays a heavy price during that transition.
This is where the Conservancy can play a critical role working in partnership with local communities to help build sustainable economies that protect both the rural way of life and our natural heritage.
In the Clinch valley, for instance, we have joined in a partnership with a man named Dick Austin. Once a pastor to coal miners in West Virginia, Dick is now working with the Conservancy, community groups and his neighbors to find ways for the residents of the valley to prosper without harming local rivers and forests. Together with unemployed lumbermen, Dick is reviving the traditional Appalachian method of logging with draft horses. This technique offers multiple benefits--the loggers selectively cut timber to sell to furniture and craft makers, helping maintain the integrity of the forest, while using horses greatly reduces the soil erosion that poses such a threat to the health of creeks and river.
Of course, Dick Austin and his draft horses won't solve the sustainability puzzle alone. We must also explore new technologies that may help us achieve leaner, more compatible growth. The forest products company Westvaco, for example, is developing new varieties of trees with higher yields, which will mean lower levels of harvesting and more land left as natural areas. At the Conservancy's Diamond Y Spring preserve in Texas, Exxon--which owns the mineral rights there--is using new technology that permits oil drilling at a minimum risk to the ecological integrity of the preserve.
(Source: Nature Conservancy, January-February 1995.)
[In case you wonder what all this has to do with caving, just remember that industrial and suburban home development and landfills to care for the trash the ever expanding population require are a direct threat to caves and groundwater resources. The kind of projects described can give us all hope for the future.]
In a recent issue of the Cascade Caver, the editor discouraged "tourist caving." This may seem a difficult stance to take, especially with new members of the grotto. But for those who have never seen a particular cave, "touring" can still be accomplished while carrying on other worthwhile projects.
Servicing cave registers, litter clean-up, surveying, etc. can be carried in conjunction with a tour of the cave. Not only will we be teaching proper caving etiquette, cave conservation, and getting the "tourists" involved in a work-related project but we will also be setting a good example by doing something we should have been doing all along ourselves. Hopefully this will become the norm rather than the exception.
(From editorial comments by Larry McTigue, editor, Cascade Caver, March-April 1995. )
Publishers Note: This article doesn't really have much to with cave conservation directly, but it's being published here for a number of reasons. First, one of the reasons I bought a computer was so I could play this game, based on a cave I had visited several times a few years previously, and of which I had vivid memories. Second, it's by one of our board members. And finally, I wanted to publish it. So I did. xyzzy to you, too.
A copy that appeared in Troglodyte Tribune, Dec. 1994, and earlier appeared in March/June 1994 Massachusetts Caver.
I just received my copy of Apprentice, the CD of source code put out by Celestin Company. My CD came so soon because I am one of the hundreds of authors whose work is contained within. Looking through the CD's contents, I was pleased to see that the source code for Advent is on the disk. Advent is the successor to the game of ADVENTURE, which in one form or another has been known to the computing community for thirty years.
On one hand, having ADVENTURE still distributed in 1994 pays homage to the tradition of this first of all the text-based computer games. On the other hand, I am pleased even more to see it because of my close association with the real cave on which the game is based and because of the tradition within the caving (call it spelunking if you must) community that the game ADVENTURE represents. How many know that the world you explore in ADVENTURE is a real place?
The online help for Advent gives this brief description:
***THE HISTORY OF ADVENTURE (ABRIDGED)***
**By Ima Wimp**
ADVENTURE was originally developed by William Crowther, and later substantially rewritten and expanded by Don Woods at Stanford Univ. According to legend, Crowther's original version was modeled on a real cavern, called Colossal Cave, which is a part of Kentucky's Mammoth Caverns. That version of the game included the main maze and a portion of the third level (Complex Junction--Bedquilt--Swiss Cheese rooms, etc.), but not much more...
*According to legend*--Hah! ADVENTURE is based on a real cave, one that is, indeed, now part of the Mammoth Cave System in Kentucky. The cave is not Colossal, however, but Bedquilt Cave. In our small circle, Willie Crowther is a famous, as was his wife then, cave explorer of the 60s and 70s when Colossal, Bedquilt, Salts, Crystal, and the other caves under Flint Ridge, Kentucky, were mapped together to become the longest cave in the world.
Bedquilt was Willie's favorite part of the cave system. I still have a copy of his map of it. Computer types who grew up exploring ADVENTURE don't realize how accurately the game represents passages in Bedquilt Cave. Yes, there is a Hall of the Mountain King and a Two-Pit Room. The entrance is indeed a strong steel grate at the bottom of a twenty-foot depression.
On a survey trip to Bedquilt, a member of my party (Bev Schwartz) mentioned she would one day like to go on a trip to Colossal Cave, where she understood the game ADVENTURE was set. No, I said, the game is based on Bedquilt Cave and we are going there now. Excitement! Throughout the cave, she kept up a constant narrative, based on her encyclopedic knowledge of the game. In the Complex Room (renamed Swiss Cheese Room in Advent) she scrambled off in a direction I had never been. "I just had to see Witt's End," she said upon returning. "It was exactly as I expected." When we finished with our work, I let her lead out, which she did flawlessly, again because she had memorized every move in the game. Believe me, the cave is a real maze, and this was an impressive accomplishment for a first-time visitor.
A second funny incident also reminded me of the game. About three years ago, a party was returning from a survey trip in Bedquilt. When suspended in space at the most awkward point in the climb out of the Hall of Mists, one party member, Roger, noticed to his horror a copperhead snake (was it THE SNAKE?) on the ledge next to his right hand. This climb is more difficult than just typing "up" or "down" at your computer terminal. At the top of it, you are stretched all the way out, pressing against the other wall with outstretched legs, while fervently searching for a place to put your butt or back in order to support your weight. You can't move anywhere quickly in that predicament. Confronted by the snake, Roger was so beside himself that all he could do was yell "Strike, strike" as the copperhead proceeded to do just that. Tom, the party leader, had already made the climb up (and not seen the snake). Looking around for something to do, he found a stick (was it the MAGIC WAND?), in the Bird Chamber (the room with the rivers of orange stone, actually a beautiful column of orange travertine). Wand in hand, he moved the snake away. Fortunately, the snake lacked energy from having been in the 55-degree cave for a while, and Roger was wearing gloves and heavy caving attire. None of the snake bites penetrated.
As a final irony, the Apprentice CD contains a small map of Bedquilt Cave and it happens to be from Willie Crowther's mapping data. It's in the About box for Vectors, my cave-mapping application that I had on the CD.
The following regulations have been published in the Federal Register and have thus gone into effect. This is probably typical of the kind of regulations that will be put into place by the various agencies as the FCRPA evaluation process continues. Of course, these regulations are particularly important given the bolting and climbing in caves problems that have occurred in Oregon in recent years (see several previous issues of the Cave Conservationist for details). -rs
Vol. 60, No. 72
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (DOI)
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
Closures and Restrictions: Oregon and Washington
60 FR 19077
DATE: Friday, April 14, 1995
SUMMARY: Pursuant to 43 CFR part 8364, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will place certain restrictions on the use of caves located on BLM-administered lands in Oregon and Washington. The purpose of the restrictions is to insure the protection of significant and potentially significant caves on BLM-administered lands in the two states.
The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988 (16 USC 4306) states that significant caves on federal lands are an invaluable and irreplaceable part of the Nation's natural heritage and, in some instances, these significant caves are threatened due to improper use, increased recreational demands, urban spread, and lack of specific statutory protection. As provided by the Act, it is also the policy of the United States that federal lands be managed in a manner which protect and maintain, to the extent practical, significant caves. Cave Management regulations define the process and criteria for determining cave significance (43 CFR Part 37, published in the Federal Register, Volume 58, No. 189 on October 1, 1993, pages 51550-51555). In accordance with the Act, federal agencies are required to prescribe policy or regulation which includes management measures to insure that caves under consideration for listing of significance be protected during the period of consideration. The Act further provides for a [missing text]
The term "cave" means any naturally occurring void, cavity, recess, or system of interconnected passages which occurs beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge (including any cave resource therein, but not including any vug, mine, tunnel, aqueduct, or other manmade excavation) and which is large enough to permit an individual to enter, whether or not the entrance is naturally formed or manmade. Such term shall include any natural pit, sinkhole, or other feature which is an extension of the entrance.
Recreational or other human activities are allowed in caves when consistent with protecting other cave resource values. Foot access and exploration in caves is permissible, unless otherwise limited.
Until caves are determined significant and management plans are prepared which provide specific management prescriptions, the following interim restrictions will insure the protection of significant and potentially significant caves on federal lands administered by the BLM in Oregon and Washington.
1. Where known or potential adverse impacts from human use to threatened, endangered, and/or sensitive plants or animals, cultural resources, biological deposits (i.e. middens, skeletal remains, etc.), or geologic/paleontologic/mineral features are present, the responsible authorized officer shall act to protect these resources. Such actions could include information/education, closures (seasonally or year-long), written authorization for activities, or other appropriate measures.
2. Written authorization will be required from the responsible authorized officer for any activity or installation that could destroy, disturb, deface, mar, alter, harm, remove cave resources or alter the free movement of life into or out of any significant or potentially significant cave. This could include recreational, scientific, educational, commercial or competitive uses. Written authorization can be in the form of an approved management plan, use permit or authorizing letter.
3. The BLM retains the authority to limit or terminate uses and/or require the restoration of cave resources if it is determined that unacceptable resource damage is occurring.
4. The BLM will consider proposals for special activities, including placing fixed anchors in a cave, establishing a trail to a cave, research, etc. For existing uses or activity proposals where it is determined that a management plan is required, priority will be given to caves where extensive recreational uses are occurring or significant resource conflicts may be at issue.
5. Authorized activities or installations are subject to the agency's National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and shall be consistent with the intent of the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988 and any conditions of existing policy and/or management decisions for the affected cave(s). Written authorization would require the applicant to provide the time, scope, location and specific purpose of the proposed activity and the manner in which the activity is to be performed.
6. Unless otherwise authorized, the following acts are prohibited in all caves on BLM-administered lands. The responsible authorized officer will take appropriate action needed to reduce or eliminate the occurrence of the acts.
7. Existing installations (e.g. stairs, ladders, fixed anchors, etc.) will be evaluated for retention or removal. Retained and future installations designed and authorized to be left in place should normally be camouflaged to minimize visual impacts. Method of removal or future placement will be pre-approved by the authorized officer and a condition of written authorization. Any non-permanent apparatus or equipment used must be removed immediately after its use.
8. The use of hand drying agents for climbing requires mitigation measures (chalk balls, pigmented chalk, etc.) to avoid creating a visual impact from residue. If needed, periodic cleaning of drying agents by cave users to the satisfaction of the authorized officer can be required.
Any person who violates this closure and restriction notice may be subject to a maximum fine not to exceed $ 1,000 and/or imprisonment not to exceed twelve months under authority of 43 CFR 8360.0-7.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dave Harmon, BLM, Oregon/Washington State Office, P.O. Box 2965, Portland, Oregon 97208-2965, 503-952-6062.
Dated: April 7, 1995.
Chief, Branch of Social Sciences and Resource Data Management.
[FR Doc. 95-9193 Filed 4-13-95; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-33-P
Received via the Internet and Ed Lisowski.
via the Internet and John Lyles
Cavers of the world,
I realize that many of you don't give a guano about what the US Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is doing about caves on the public lands in East central and southeast New Mexico. But then again, it was surprising how much comment rolled by on the CD in December when the BLM raised our awareness to their Pay-For-Caving idea. That, by the way, has passed the deadline for comments, and I believe that they got some significant ones from cavers, both individuals and groups. >From New Mexico, thank you to those of you who did care and submitted comments last month!
Now, the BLM, Roswell (NM) Resource Area, has opened comments on yet another proposal, this one called environmental assessment NM-066-95-051. The title is COMMERCIAL CAVE USE IN THE ROSWELL RESOURCE AREA. There is only a 30 day period for the public to submit written comments, due by May 30.
Instead of enclosing the entire EA here, I'll summarize with the decision that a BLM outdoor recreation planner would like to make:
Decision: The decision is to accept the proposal allowing limited commercial caving operations on public lands within the Roswell District.
Rationale: Commercial guides for outdoor recreation adventures are common throughout federal land management agencies. Commercially guided trips to caves or any other recreational resource is a legitimate form of recreation use, as long as the activity is closely monitored and controlled. Commercially guided cave trips would offer the general public a safe avenue to view this underground resource. By allowing commercial guided trips to the public, the general public will become better informed and more aware of the fragile resource. Cave visitors would have the opportunity to view and use cave equipment and would gain the knowledge or desire to learn more about the resource. Commercially guided visitors would be better equipped and gain knowledge on safe, low impact use of cave resources prior to entering a cave. Most first-time cavers with any organized caving group usually are not orientated or do not have the proper equipment prior to entering a cave. This commercial caving environment assessment has been developed to analyze impacts of commercial caving activities.
Finding of No Significant Impact: Based on the analysis of potential environmental impacts contained in this EA, it has been determined that the adverse impacts caused by the proposed action would not be significant. Therefore, preparation of an EIS is not required and the proposed action is approved.
My comments and analysis as I read it....
The area of concern is a gypsum karst area, with an estimated 150 to 300 caves [from EA]. 99 caves were submitted as significant, per the 1988 Federal Cave Resource Protection Act. Some caves are well known, and already receive numerous permitted visitations. The largest, Ft. Stanton Cave, received 1170 people in 1994, a total of 20,891 person-hours. Underground Adventures, Inc. and Fort Lone Tree have submitted requests to the BLM to run trips in this area. The EA covers the need, conformance with land use plan, relationship to the Roswell Resource Area management framework, the no action alternative to the proposal, the description of the affected environment (soils, vegetation, geologic, bats, other biota, etc.), and the environmental impact. There are mitigating measures which outline which types are caves are to be allowed for commercial trips, and the % of trips that can be commercial. There are only a fixed number of permits to many of these caves, so the % of NON-COMMERCIAL trips (most of us) will be reduced accordingly.
There will be a requirement for an hour orientation (specific topics covered) to all clients. There will be requirements for the operator to haul human wastes out, to have 1 guide for every 5 clients, to prevent tobacco consumption in the caves, to adhere to closures, to use only electric lights for main source, and to carry certain minimum equipment. Each trip shall have a leader who has first-aid, CPR, search and rescue training (8 hrs. cave) and caving experience.
This EA is still a proposal as of today, so if you think or know you have any comments, post them here, and contact the BLM in Roswell. Jerry Ballard is the contact at (505) 624-1790. Call him if you'd like to examine the entire EA. Help us guide the local BLM in their decisions which affect the future of caves. Thanks for your time.
The following was posted to the Cavers-Digest May 19, 1995.
I'm posting this message after our grotto conservation chairman (David Jagnow) had conversations with representatives of the U.S. Dep't of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Roswell, NM District. The topic: the Environmental Assessment (EA) for commercial caving "adventure" outfitters in the Roswell caving area. I mentioned this a few weeks ago, when the EA came in the mail; there has been a flurry of activity, mostly on private email, between interested cavers (including NSS leadership) - most have been upset with the item.
The BLM would like to get this message out to cavers via Internet:
1) The EA in question was mistakenly mailed as a completed EA, when it was actually a DRAFT.
2) The sign off page, which showed approval, was not authorized and should not have been mailed to public.
3) The statement that there would be NO IMPACT to the caves should not have been approved. There will be impact, and this needs to be addressed. There is some conflict apparently with the NEPA (Environ. Protection) process, in that caves and karst are not included in discussions of impact?
4) BLM is working on a letter to come out to the cavers, (we suggested immediately!) to address these and other issues about it.
5) BLM management in Roswell has now directed the cave resource specialists to promptly get 'wired' onto Internet, to communicate with us here. We certainly welcome that, and will assist them in learning the ways of Cavers-Digest. (Flame on!)
6) MOST IMPORTANT ------- District manager Leslie Cone, and the cave resource specialists of BLM, wish to meet with the cavers; at least representatives of the area grottos, NSS, Cave Research Foundation, and Southwest Region of NSS. This is scheduled for 7PM MDT on Thursday, June 15.
The address is: BLM District Office - conference room 1717 West 2nd Street Roswell, NM
The topics of discussion will be the EA for commercial caving outfitters, AND the recent proposal to authorize fees for caving permits. Both items have been thoroughly covered here on CD in the past 5 months, so study the archives if you want to participate. We (local grottos) will be there, although it is an inconvenient drive for a weeknight for some of us hours away. IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT CAVERS ATTEND THIS MEETING WITH THE BLM MANAGEMENT. IT IS OUR CHANCE FOR ONE ON ONE DISCUSSIONS ON THESE CONTROVERSIAL SUBJECTS. Email will soon allow BLM to communicate more freely with us also.
We hope that this clarifies BLM's immediate response to our feedback. Yes, they are getting a lot of flack, and are hoping to work with cavers. The immediate ability of Internet to spread the word has been very beneficial here. We can also bring comments to the meeting from long distance cavers who cannot attend but have opinions about these topics. Email them to me and I'll be sure that they are presented.
John Lyles firstname.lastname@example.org Pajarito Grotto northern New Mexico
Publisher's Note: Since The preceding was received, I have received several copies of letters from cavers to the BLM, and a further response from the BLM explaining that issuance of the EA already signed was in error, and that in fact comments from cavers and the public will be taken into account in the decisions. In the interest of peace between cavers and agency people who have always been our friends, I have not published all those here. If the issue is not sufficiently resolved by the next issue, I may publish more stuff. In the mean time, I have posted several of the letters on the World Wide Web. See the section Web page notice on p. 2.-rs
Dated May 6, 1995. From the Internet. Submitted by Sheilarae Carpentier for ISHA (International Spelean Heritage Association-see the next issue of Cave Conservationist for more information)
Date: 06 May 95 15:44:31 EDT From: ISHA <email@example.com> To: Cavers digest messages <cavers>
"As gravuras nao sabem nadar" Engravings can't swim.
This is an urgent call from ISHA to all concerned by the subterranean heritage.
The Portuguese Electrical Company (EDP) is about to complete the construction of a giant damming of the Coa Valley in North Portugal.
In 1992, more than 50 engravings dated 20,000 years BC were discovered by Nelson Rebanda near the village of Villa Nova de Foz Coa. The site was kept secret to avoid looting until November 1994. The engravings are absolutely remarkable, presenting the shape of Auroch, Mammoth, Horses and other prehistoric animals.
The engravings were authenticated by numerous experts from UNESCO. Today the EDP and local authorities, forwarding economical and social interest, have decided to flood the valley - thus destroying forever this exceptional heritage.
Last week-end, more than a thousand demonstrators protested against the destruction of this site, and there has been a hunger strike chain going on since April 25th. in front of the Jeronomos Monastery in Lisbon against the EDP dam.
YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!
Send a letter to the Portuguese Embassy IN YOUR COUNTRY, saying : AS GRAVURAS NAO SABEM NADAR! STOP THE COA DAM!
There are people camping there all the time to prevent the flooding, and hunger strikers in Lisbon that need your support.
Publisher's Note: Technically, these engravings are not in caves. They are in sheltered overhangs of the rock. But ISHA has decided to support the international effort to save them, and its clear that the Europeans do not take this lightly. We should support this effort if we can.-rs
by Jay Jorden
Ranchers rolled out the red carpet for the Texas Speleological Association in late February as the TSA's winter Board of Governors' meeting expanded into two days of caving. The Southwest Texas town of Camp Wood, a ranching and recreation hub for parts of three counties, was the focus of activity for Feb. 18-19.
From a campsite along the Nueces River, dozens of cavers fanned out over two days to leads provided by area ranchers, in collaboration with the local Chamber of Commerce.
Developing good relations with ranchers in Real and surrounding counties is important. The area is near the Brackettville site of the 1994 National Speleological Society Convention and is a leading mohair-producing region. Sheep, goats and cattle herds produce almost all of Real County's $6 million average farm income.
The TSA event was co-hosted by the Texas Cave Conservancy.
A group of Texas Cave Management Association members and others, in a Sunday visit to one ranch, mapped several hundred feet in a cave that a rancher had rediscovered on a hillside. The amiable rancher, who had earlier bulldozed a road to near the cave, was then lowered more than 50 feet into a pit by means of a line tied onto a vehicle. On this weekend, impressed by cavers' use of rope and vertical equipment, the rancher made his first rappel-and remarked how smooth the descent was! Some family members and friends followed down the shaft. Personnel on the trip included William Russell, Jerry Atkinson, Bill Sawyer and Noble Stidham.
During the weekend, a group of cavers also visited Devil's Sinkhole, which was a convention cave last year. Other cavers went to Turkey Pen Cave and other caves. Much ridgewalking was accomplished, including a search for the fabled "Blowhole" on one ranch. On that property, cavers saw the added attractions of petroglyphs and dinosaur footprints along a creekbed.
So friendly and cooperative were the area's ranchers that at least one caver heard about cave leads during a gas station stop!
Saturday evening and Sunday morning were busy times for meetings, with the TSA and the two Texas cave conservation groups all gathering for discussions.
During the TSA business meeting, a vacant editorship for The Texas Caver was filled. Terry Holsinger and Chris Vreeland, both of Austin, will work together to co-edit alternating issues of the publication with Noble Stidham of Lubbock. Chris and Terry fill the vacancy of Austin caver Keith Heuss, who resigned to pursue other interests.
Breakfast during the meeting featured eggs and sausage, with plenty of coffee and salsa to keep participants alert!
The weekend was marred only by a rabid wildcat's visit to the Nueces River camp, where it frightened residents and eventually was cornered by an animal control officer who sustained some injuries. No cavers were hurt, although one was surprised on a visit to the shower building to see the cat ambling out!
Many return trips are planned to the area, which has now become a hotbed of Texas caving and conservation efforts.
From the Internet. Submitted by Thilo Mueller
Publishers Note: In the last issue of the Cave Conservationist we included several other cavers codes for the purpose of stimulating discussion about whether the NSS Conservation Policy is sufficient as a guiding document for American cavers. This Swiss code is included here as part of a continuing series. Any comments? Send them via e-mail or snail-mail to Rob Stitt.
I know nothing about the Belgian Caving Code of Conduct, but since 1992 the Swiss Speleological Society has an Honor Code. Influenced by that, we have the same in parts of Germany since 1994.
Here it is (short form):
The self awareness of each person is the best protection for caves. The caver should be as careful as possible and try to closely follow the principles below:
In short: THINK before you act; the long term consequences could otherwise be catastrophic and irreversible.
If you are not already a member of the Conservation and Management
Section of the National Speleological Society, you are invited to
join. Dues are $5.00 a year, payable to the NSS Cons/Mgmt Section.
Members receive the newsletter regularly and are entitled to vote at
the annual meeting.
r Yes, I would like to join the Conservation/Management Section. Here are my dues in the amount of $________ (dues of $5/year may be prepaid for up to three years). Name___________________________________ NSS No.________ ___ Address_________________________________________ ______ City__________________________ State_____________ ZIP_________________ ___ Please send this form with check/money order to the Secretary-Treasurer: Evelyn Bradshaw, 10826 Leavells Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22407-1261.
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