Cave Conservation is one of the most important things we can do in Utah Caving. Consider the Why’s and How’s listed below.
1. Caves in Utah took thousands to millions of years to form. They are a completely non-renewable Resources. Once that within the cave is damaged, dirtied, or broken, it cannot be renewed in our lifetimes or within any reasonable multi-generational time. Please do not break, touch or remove anything natural from any cave in Utah.
The NSS (National Speleological Society) motto is:
Leave nothing but footprints
Take nothing but pictures
Kill nothing but time
And I would like to add that we need to be careful to leave as few footprints as possible.
2. Along with your exploration and fun, take time to clean up any messes you or others make or that you find. Thus you are leaving the cave a little better than you found it. Teach and encourage others to do the same.
3. Leave no garbage, fluids, crumbs, waste, carbide, oils or outside items in the cave. Try to leave the cave just as you found it. Remember that touching formations leaves oils and filth from your hands and gloves behind that kill the growth of those formations and often turns them black. Many of these things if left will change the ecosystem in the cave. These effects often last forever.
4. Be aware that your transit through the cave affects the cave. Follow marked paths, Consider going in any particular cave less often. This means less skin flakes, lint and chance of damage by your presence. Your being in the cave can also affect the short term temperature in the cave.
5. Digging or enlarging of air or water passages in a cave can dramatically change the environment of that cave. Consider carefully before doing so. Remember that digging in a federally owned cave is against the law unless you have obtained a permit to do so. While digging, if you find bones or archeological items, you must immediately stop and report what you found, even with a permit.
6. Be careful who you tell about the cave and it’s location. For every person you take or tell, the number of those who may visit the cave multiplies exponentially. The more that go, the greater the damage to the cave.
7. Don’t get hurt or killed in the cave as this pollutes it also. Be careful not to vomit, defecate or urinate in Utah caves.
8. Don’t put anything into a surface sink hole as it is surely associated with a cave and what ever goes into the sink will surely end up in the cave and as a result, into the water system.
9. Be careful what you put in and leave in a cave such as climbing bolts, glue, items that are rusty or that will rust, batteries of any kind, carbide, etc. These and many other things will pollute the cave and alter the environment. This may result in the destruction of parts of the cave and especially of natural cave life.
10. Be careful where you go in the cave. Think in your mind, Is the permanent damage I will cause worth the exploration and thrill I will get out of it? Remember those who will see the cave after you.
11. When we take new people to a cave, what should we always teach them?
a. Science (there are many scientific discoveries and work to be done in caves)
b. Acceptable caving practices (conservation, safety, etc.)
c. Love and appreciation for caves
f. Truth about bats (They do not fly into hair, suck blood, or bite and probably do not have rabies. They are extremely valuable to the ecosystem of our planet).
g. About other animals and life in the cave (please preserve what life we have, even that which you cannot see)
h. About Fossils (Limestone is often fossil bearing)
i. Geology of caves (this is a great area to gain knowledge)
j. Biology of caves , etc.
12. Cave Conservation is an attitude, formed and molded by ones experience, ones knowledge, ones maturity, ones ability and your heart. It strengthens and matures only with time and experience. We call this wisdom.
13. To conserve is not necessarily not to use but to make it last as long as possible. Always think of the lasting consequences for what you are about to do.
14. Why conserve caves?
a. For others to follow
b. For ourselves in the future
c. For our children and their children
d. For the environment
e. For the long lasting beauty and nature of this fragile environment
15. Much of the world today has an attitude that it is all about me. This is very common but is extremely selfish. We should keep the caves as pristine as we can so we can enjoy it again and so others can be as blessed with those experiences and beauty as we are.
16. Every trip, every experience with caves, and every class taught should include a healthy dose of cave conservation. Remember that caves can be conserved by visiting them via pictures, slide shows, digital videos, stories, maps and many other ways, rather than multiple repeated trips. The majority of the world needs to love the cave from a distance.