Cave Conservationist

The Newsletter of Cave Conservation and Management

Volume 13 No. 3 July 15, 1994

Published by the NSS Section on Cave Conservation and Management

USFS FRCPA Regulations, Cave Nomination Process, Environmental Impact on Show Caves

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.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Evelyn Bradshaw, 10826 Leavells Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22407-1261.

SUBMISSIONS: Articles and other Cave Conservationist correspondence should be sent to the Editor. Submissions on computer disks should be made with 3.5" or 5.25" IBM compatible diskettes, . Microsoft Word, Word Perfect 5.0, 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 Compuserve to 71267,1065 or Prodigy to BBTH90A. 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.

Cover illustration is from the article "Effects of Tourist Development on Caves and Karst," which starts on page 13. It shows factors producing environmental impacts on cave conditions at Waitomo Glowworm Cave, New Zealand..


Conservation & Management Section       



Chairman and Publisher: Rob Stitt       

1417 9th Ave. West                      

Seattle, WA 98119                       

(206) 283-2283                          


Editor and Vice-Chairman: Jay R.        


1518 Devon Circle                       

Dallas, TX 78217-1205                   


Secretary-Treasurer: Evelyn Bradshaw,   

10826 Leavells Road                     

Fredericksburg, VA 22407-1261           



Directors at Large: Mel Park            

George N. Huppert                       



Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Notes from the Chairman

U.S. Forest Service - FCRPA Regulations

Nomination of Significant Caves

Effects of Tourist Development on Caves and Karst

Contents (CATENA Supplement #25)

Notes from the Chairman

The US Forest Service has finally completed its regulations for implementation of the Federal Cave Resource Protection Act, and put them into effect by publication in the Federal Register. This means that the clock for Nomination of Significant Caves is now running for both Department of Agriculture and Depart of the Interior Caves (for USDI regulations see our last issue). Nominations are due by December 14, 1994 for caves on Agriculture (mostly US Forest Service) lands. Nominations are due by October 14 for caves on Department of the Interior (Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife) lands.

Since cavers were the prime impetus behind the passage of the FCRPA, it is now incumbent upon us to provide the information that the agencies need to inventory the caves that they now legally must protect. The catch in the FCRPA was that only "significant" caves are provided the protection of the Act. This means that the agencies must now go through the process of determining which caves are significant. To streamline the process, a joint clearinghouse has been set up to accept nominations. The nomination forms will then be routed to the appropriate agencies for evaluation. Once a cave has been nominated, it is presumed significant until declared non-significant, and thus will be afforded protection during the evaluation period.

The NSS Conservation has previously sent a nomination kit to all I/O's, and a copy was published in the last issue of the Cave Conservationist. Or copies are available from the address listed in the article "Nomination of Significant Caves".

If caves are not nominated by the deadline, they can be nominated later and will be evaluated at a later time.

It's a good idea to coordinate with other grottos in your area to avoid duplication, but now is the time to get your nominations in.

Rob Stitt

U.S. Forest Service - FCRPA Regulations

31146 Federal Register Vol. 59, No. 116 / Friday, June 17, 1994 / Rules and Regulations


Forest Service

36 CFR Parts 261 and 290

RIN 0596-AA02

Cave Resources Management

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: This final rule establishes procedures for nominating, evaluating, and designating significant caves on lands administered as part of the National Forest system. The rule establishes procedures for releasing information about the location of caves and establishes general prohibitions to protect cave resources from abuse and degradation. The intended effect is to fully implement the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988 on National Forest System lands and to ensure that National Forest System lands are managed in a manner to protect and maintain, to the extent practicable, significant caves. These regulations have been developed in close consultation with the Department of the Interior to ensure uniformity and consistency in approach to the extent that statutory authority permits.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This rule is effective June 17, 1994.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brent Botts, Recreation, Cultural Resources and Wilderness Management Staff, Forest Service, USDA, P.O. Box 96090, Washington. DC 20090-6090, (202) 2051313.



The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988 (16 U.S.C. 4301-4309; 102 Stat. 4546), hereafter referred to as the "Act," seeks to secure, protect, and preserve significant caves on Federal lands for the perpetual use, enjoyment, and benefit of all people. The Act also seeks to foster increased cooperation and exchange of information between governmental authorities and those who utilize caves located on Federal lands for scientific, educational, or recreational purposes. The Act requires the Secretary of Agriculture to issue such regulations as he deems necessary to achieve the purposes of the Act on National Forest System lands. The regulations are required to include, but need not be limited to, criteria for the identification of significant caves.

On March 3,1989, the Forest Service published an advance notice of proposed rule making in the Federal Register inviting comments on what should be included in a proposed rule, and particularly requesting suggestions as to criteria for identifying a significant cave. A total of nine comments were received in response to that notice. 4 from agencies of State government, 2 from business entities, 2 from individuals, and 1 from a Federal agency.

Subsequently, a proposed rule was published on December 23, 1991 (56 FR 66388). The proposed rule described the process the Forest Service would use in designating significant caves, provided for public nomination of caves, specified six criteria by which a cave would be evaluated to determine whether it is significant, and identified the authorized officer as the authority for designating and documenting a significant cave. The proposed rule also specified how cave information and locations would be released. Lastly, the proposed rule revised certain prohibitions specific to caves and cave resources. Seventysix letters were received during the 90day comment period in response to the proposed rule: 30 from individuals, 18 from cave related organizations, 16 from Federal agencies, 5 from natural resource organizations, 4 from business entities. and 3 from State agencies.

All comments received are available for review in the Office of the Director, Recreation, Cultural Resources, and Wilderness Management Staff, Auditors Building, 4th Floor, 201 14th Street, SW at Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC, during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) Monday through Friday.

Analysis of Public Comment

Overall, almost all respondents were pleased that the Forest Service was promulgating regulations. Many offered valuable suggestions for improving or clarifying specific sections. Some of these suggestions were group efforts, using similar or identical language to identify and describe their interests, concerns, and recommended modifications to the proposed rule. A few letters endorsed other respondents statements.

The majority of comments centered on four major issues in the proposed 261 and 290 rules: scope of the rule, including the definition and manner of determining the significance of a cave; confidentiality of cave information; public participation; and differences with the proposed rule (57 FR 1344) published by Department of the Interior on January 13, 1992.

Several comments also referred to information contained in a document entitled Proposed Procedure for Listing Significant Caves, which was circulated at the same time as the proposed rule but was not intended for codification in the regulations. This document described a proposed implementation process in greater detail. These comments also were considered as part of the rulemaking record to the extent that they were relevant to the provisions of the rulemaking.

General Comments on 36 CFR Part 290

Under the proposed rule, cave protection regulations would be set out in title 36, part 290, of the Code of Federal Regulations. The following summarizes general comments received on the proposed rule and the Department's response to them

1. Cooperation and Consultation With the Department of Interior

Many respondents noted disparities between the Forest Service proposed rule and the proposed rule issued at the same time by the U.S. Department of the Interior (USDI). Most respondents recommended that the final rule of both agencies be as similar as possible.

Response. Throughout the rule making process, the Forest Service and USDI land managing agencies have been participating in an interagency committee to agree on cave resource standards and procedures. The goal has been to adopt rules as similar as possible. However, each agency has a different statutory background and mission which result in some procedural differences such as in integrating cave resource protection into planning processes, delegations of authority, and information requirements. In these instances, the language may differ to reflect the specific authorities of the agencies involved.

2. Public Participation

The majority of respondents felt the proposed rule completely ignored Section 2(b)(2) of the Act which states that one purpose of the Act is "to foster increased cooperation and exchange of information between governmental authorities and those who utilize caves for scientific. education, or recreational purposes." Respondents believed the proposed rule denied the caving community access to cave information thus discouraging the exchange of information. Many respondents recommended that public interaction occur through establishment of an advisory committee and the development of volunteer agreements. Some respondents felt that these two actions were required by the Act in Sections 4(b)(3) and 4(b)(4).

Response. Under ? 290.3 of the proposed rule, the agency intended that the public be given the opportunity to nominate significant caves. Additionally, proposed ? 290.4 provided a process by which information on caves and their location could be disclosed to bona fide educational or research organizations although not to the general cave recreationing community. Additionally, under the proposed rule, the agency envisioned addressing cave resource protection standards in forest plans pursuant to National Forest Management Act and implementing regulations. Forest plans are developed with full public participation; however, in response to comments on the proposed rule, the final rule does strengthen and encourage greater cooperation and exchange of information in the nomination and evaluation process as well as in a new provision permitting the disclosure of cave information to groups who assist the Federal land managing agencies with cave management. These changes are discussed in the sectionbysection discussion of comments which follows.

The suggestion to form an advisory committee has not been adopted. It is not at all clear that such advisory groups are needed either nationally or locally. Whether local advisory groups are needed is a decision best left to the local land manager. Should the Forest Supervisor determine that an advisory committee would be helpful in achieving the purposes of the Cave Resources Protection Act, the Department has ample authority and procedures in place to establish such advisory committees.

3. Scope and Detail of the Regulations

Many respondents felt that the proposed rule should have provided more details on how to manage and protect significant caves. Most of these respondents understood that significant caves would be managed "to the extent practical" using current management plans, but wanted the final rule to incorporate or further clarify potions of the proposed rule. Respondents asked questions such as: how will significant cave listings and significant cave management concerns be integrated into forest plans; how will specific management concerns about significant caves be identified; how will ecosystem considerations, including protection of karst features and hydrological recharge areas, be made; and how will the Forest Service address proposed projects that potentially impact caves.

Another respondent requested that goals and standards for cave resource protection and management be described in the rule and that language be added emphasizing that land management decisions should balance consideration of cave resource protection with consideration of human activity.

Response: Through section 4(c)(1) of the act, Congress made clear that caves should be managed through the agency's land and resource management planning process, and not through the significant cave designation process. Section 4(c)(1) states that significant caves are to be "…considered in the preparation of any land management plan if the preparation or revision of the plan began after the enactment of this Act." Forest land and resource management planning is a continuous, dynamic process which is dependent on monitoring and evaluation of actions taken under the plan. The agency keeps plans current and updated through amendment or revision and maintains ongoing and meaningful communication with the public and other government entities. New data such as an inventory of significant caves is new information that Forest Supervisors consider as forest plans are implemented to determine if forest plan direction needs to be changed. Designating caves as significant will not automatically trigger the need to amend or revise forest plans. Upon development of the initial listing of significant caves on National Forest System lands the Forest Supervisor will review the forest plan and determine if it is adequate to ensure protection of significant cave resources. If not, the Supervisor would initiate amendment or revision of the plan to address the protection of significant cave resources on the forest. The public must be involved in amendment or revision. Thus, any special management concerns for significant caves, including connected ecosystem considerations, can and should be identified by the public so that the comments can be analyzed and considered through the forest planning process. The forest planning process is already adequately regulated by the provisions of 36 CFR part 219; therefore, no additional change to this rule was made.

Where a proposed project might impact a significant cave or cave yet to be evaluated for significance, the effects of the project would be analyzed in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations. Public input is solicited to identify environmental issues relevant to a proposed action (project).

Agency policy and procedures under the NEPA in Forest Service Handbook 1909.15 require that decision documents (Decision Memo, Decision Notice, Record of Decision) contain "Findings required by other laws." If a decision affects a significant cave, a finding will be disclosed describing how the decision considered this cave.

Section-by-Section Comment on 36 CFR Part 290

Section 290.1. Purpose and Scope

In considering the general comments on the scope and detail of the regulations addressed in the preceding section of this preamble, the Department concludes that the proposed rule was confusing in specifying that the initial determination of significant caves would be made by a special process and that subsequent significant cave determinations would be made through the forest plan amendment or revision process. The final rule clarifies this concern by: (1) stating that significant cave resources will be managed pursuant to direction contained in individual forest plans and in accordance with the policies contained in the Forest Service Directive System and (2) by eliminating any reference to forest planning in the initial and subsequent listings. This change acknowledges that forest plans provide direction to manage significant caves but do not contain a list of these caves.

Section 290.2 Definitions

Authorized Officer

Several respondents expressed concern over the range of potentially designated authorized officers listed in the proposed rule. One respondent felt that the authorizing officer should be the Regional Forester while another felt this authority should not be delegated below the Forest Supervisor level. Another felt the final decision for determining significant caves should be at a senior management level. Further, some respondents indicated that the authorized officer should have qualifications and duties related to caves and/or cave resources.

The comments received on this definition reflect a lack of understanding of how authority is delegated through the Forest Service. Authority flows from the Chief through Regional Foresters to Forest Supervisors and District Rangers. These line officers have responsibility for managing all resources, including caves, and will be legally responsible for complying with this rule and the Act. The agency will delegate that responsibility through the issuance of internal agency directives and the delegation of authority will vary depending on the significance of the action being assigned. In general, the authorized officer will refer to the Forest Supervisor who must carry out the evaluations and documentations required by the rule in the context of forest planning. To avoid confusion, the definition in the final rule does not include the list of all potential authorized officers.


The agency received a range of opinions on this definition. Some respondents felt the definition was too narrow; others believed it was too broad. Some respondents, stating that a vug is one resource the Act is intended to protect, were concerned with the exclusion of vugs from the definition. Individual respondents suggested modifying the definition to include qualifiers such as: a dark zone; a minimum horizontal or vertical length; absence or presence of an entrance at any specific time period, and a naturally formed subterranean open area. A couple of respondents were concerned about the requirement that an individual be able to enter. One felt this precluded passages accessible for small cave biota. Another felt this requirement may allow for enlarging small openings to make them accessible as caves. One respondent was concerned that the definition would not protect the "unnatural" portion of caves from destruction or restrict the location of such from the general public.

The Department has concluded that the definition in the proposed rule was confusing because it described both the components of a cave and the features that do not comprise a cave. Accordingly, in the final rule, this definition has been revised to focus on what a cave is, rather than what it is not. "Feature" was replaced with "opening" since it was felt the intent is to include small air passages that extend from the cave itself and that are integral parts of the cave. This definition encompasses any entranceways, including excavated passage; therefore, the location and passage associated with the excavated portion is considered under purposes of this Act. While the suggested qualifiers further define features associated with caves, they were not added because they extend beyond the scope of the cave definition listed in the Act.

Cave Resources

Some respondents suggested that historical resources be separated from the rest of the resources listed as naturally occurring. A few respondents noted that speleogens and speleothems should be defined since these terms are not commonly found in dictionaries.

The term "naturally" was removed as suggested since cultural materials do not occur naturally in caves. Speleogens and speleothems are not included in the definition in the final rule since they are but a couple of the features that comprise geologic and mineralogic materials or substances.

National Forest System Lands

Several respondents were confused over which lands the Act applied to: nonfederal lands on which the agency has planned projects, private lands with caves affected by agency projects on Federal lands, lands owned in fee title, and/or National Forest System lands.

A definition for "National Forest System lands" has been added. This rule applies only to lands managed by and under the legal jurisdiction of the Forest Service. The Act contains no language extending agency authority to private property.

Significant Cave

Several respondents noted that this definition should correspond to the criteria listed in proposed section ? 290.3(b).

This definition was revised to include the criteria now in ? 290.3 (c) and (d).


Respondents overlapped their comments on "vug" with the "cave" definition. A couple of respondents suggested clarifications to the definition including: Add a size definition other than "small" and make clear that a vug is only a standalone cavity presumable [sic] intersected by a manmade passage.

Since the only reference to a vug was in the definition of a cave and this reference has now been removed, the separate definition of a vug is no longer necessary.

Section 290.3 Determining Significant Caves

Comments are presented by major paragraph of this section of the proposed rule.

Paragraph (a) Nominations for Initial and Subsequent listings

Proposed paragraph (a) provided that the Secretary of Agriculture shall cooperate and consult with the Secretary of Interior to devise a similar nomination process for initial listing of significant caves and give public notice of the nomination process. In addition, subsequent determinations of significant caves would be made through the forest planning process. Many respondents felt that the review of nominations and the determination by the authorized officer should be conducted in consultation and cooperation with an advisory committee, team, acknowledged experts in the field of speleology, or appropriate private sector interests, including cavers. A few respondents felt an appeal process was needed for those caves determined not to be significant.

This paragraph was revised to focus more narrowly on the nomination process, and a new paragraph (b) was added to describe the evaluation process. The reference in the proposed rule to subsequent determination of significant caves through the forest planning process has been removed. Determination of significant caves can be made at any time by the authorized officer. Reference to consultation between Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior was removed since this coordination has occurred in the writing of the entire rule and through a separate effort to develop a Proposed Procedure for Listing Significant Caves. Both paragraphs emphasize public and agency input and consultation. Notice of the nomination procedures for the initial listing must be published in the Federal Register. Notice of future listings is not required as the rule provides that the public and government agencies are to submit such nominations to the Forest Supervisor where the cave is located.

Paragraph (c) Criteria for Significant Caves

Many respondents stated that the criteria were too broad; others felt the criteria were too restrictive. Those respondents who felt the criteria are too broad suggested that criteria be developed at the State-level, or eliminated, or be modified with a strong emphasis on the cave having an important value. The majority of respondents felt that these criteria would eliminate the majority of caves from listing as significant. Most requested that criteria be based only on a cave processing [sic] "one or more of the following features, characteristics, or values." Some recommended that the criteria focus on identifying insignificant caves; thus, managing all others as significant. Individual respondents identified the need to add new criteria categories for caves of undetermined status, caves with abnormal dangers, caves with other values, and caves within a special management area which was designated wholly or in part due to the cave resources found there.

Additionally, two business entities felt that the criteria for selection of significant caves are too broad and that the proposed rule neglected to consider the impacts that such a designation would have on oil and gas production. They felt that the designation of significant caves needed to be based on caves having an "important value", especially when considering other uses of the land. They recommended that significant cave values be weighed against the economic values of mineral development.

The Act in section 4(a) requires that the Secretary issue criteria for the identification of significant cave in regulations. Thus, criteria focusing on insignificant caves or criteria developed at the State level do not address the Act's mandate. To focus the criteria on an inventory procedure that can be interpreted and more consistently applied across the agency, the qualifier "…which are deemed by the authorized officer to be unusual, significant, or otherwise meriting special management" has not been adopted on the final rule. This phrase confused respondents since it added another level of evaluation and review to the six stated criteria. There is nothing in the Act or its legislative history that indicates that a cave has to have a value more important than, or be weighed against, other uses of public lands before being designated significant. The criteria for designating significant caves are identical to those adopted in the Department of the Interior's final rule.

(1) Biota. All respondents commenting on this paragraph requested modifications to make the criteria less restrictive. They recommended the removal of qualifiers such as "cave dependent," "that occur in large numbers or variety," and "disturbance."

"Cave dependent" was replaced with "seasonal or yearlong" to better describe the conditions under which biota use a cave. The qualifier "…occur in large numbers or variety…" was removed because caves typically contain small populations and variety of flora and fauna by the very nature of the cave environment.

(2) Cultural. All respondents commenting on this paragraph felt the criterion was too restrictive to include potentially eligible sites, religious sites for native Americans, caves mined for saltpeter, and sites with ethnographic or historic associations with events or persons considered important to local communities or social groups. A few suggested eliminating the requirement that the site be eligible for or listed on the National Register or [sic] Historic Places.

This paragraph was clarified to address and refer to the terms "historic or prehistoric" that are already defined through adequate laws and regulations. These terms encompass "cultural" resources better than historical properties and archaeological resources. The paragraph also was expanded to better describe the types of resources that could be included or eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places based on the cave itself or the contents contained within. The paragraph as revised encompasses religious sites for native Americans, caves mined for saltpeter, and other sites with ethnographic or historic associations. Allowing for a site to be eligible for or listed on the national register of Historic Places consistently ties to the agency management of cultural resources.

·  (3) Geologic/Mineralogic/ Paleontologic. Respondents felt that the terms "outstanding" and "important" were too restrictive. Most recommended that "outstanding" be replaced with "other interesting" or that it and "important" be deleted completely. Several respondents felt these criteria would allow every cave to be determined significant. One recommended that this paragraph be completely eliminated; another recommended tying the criteria to only "fragile or outstanding" examples.

In the final rule the qualifiers "outstanding", "useful" and "important" have been eliminated and replaced with more tangible terms. However, while some restrictive qualifiers have been expanded, there are still qualifiers that could appropriately eliminate caves from listing under this criteria.

·  (4) Hydrologic. One respondent felt this criterion should be limited to waters that are necessary to maintain municipal water supplies and maintain scientifically important biota or cave features.

The Department disagrees. This criterion is adopted without change from the proposed rule since it addresses hydrological resources associated with caves and cave resources.

·  (5) Recreational. Most respondents requested that "challenge" be replaced and values such as wilderness, sporting, natural aesthetic, exploration, educational, and scientific be substituted. One respondent felt that this section should be completely removed. Another noted that scenic values and challenge must have an important value.

This criterion responds to the Act, which recognizes caves for their perpetual use, enjoyment, and benefit for all people and further notes that people utilize caves for recreational purposes. The qualifier "by virtue of challenge" has been eliminated since it does not describe a type of recreational opportunity that can measured. In the final rule; this paragraph is written broadly enough to incorporate the suggested values of wilderness, sporting, aesthetic, and exploration if they tie to recreational and scenic opportunities.

·  (6) Educational or scientific. One respondent noted that any new cave discoveries would automatically qualify as significant under this proposed criterion. Several other respondents felt that qualifiers should be deleted to make the criteria less restrictive. One suggested adding wilderness and uniqueness to this category. Other [sic] felt that these criteria must either note an important value or it [sic] should be removed.

Changes to this paragraph in the final rule are minor. "Contemporary" is inserted before "human disturbance" to ensure that cultural resources are considered rather than recent acts of vandalism. New cave discoveries could be designated significant if they lack evidence of contemporary human disturbance or impact. This acknowledges that a pristine cave offers potential values from a scientific educational, and recreational standpoint.

A new paragraph (d), Specially designated areas, has been added to recognize that some management decisions have already been made wholly or in part due to caves. Where special management designations are already associated with protecting caves, it is efficient to designate them as significant without reevaluating them under the requirements of paragraph (c).

Paragraph (e) Designation and Documentation

Several respondents felt clarification was needed for the authorized officer's designation of significant caves. They felt that designation should be tied to the authorized officer confirming that a cave met one of the criteria rather than evaluating the criteria itself. Another respondent requested that the rule be specific as to what information must be provided.

The wording of this paragraph in the final rule clarifies that the authorized officer will confirm whether or not a cave meets one of the criteria listed in ? 290.3(c). This clearly defines the role of authorized officer as a decisionmaker not a reviewer of the criteria. The paragraph also specifies the minimum documentation to be retained for each cave designated as significant.

A new paragraph (f), Undiscovered passages, has been added to clearly recognize that once a cave has been listed, the designation applies to the entire cave on federal land, regardless of agency jurisdiction or extent of exploration.

A decision to place a cave on the significant cave list is an inventory type decision, and as such, is not appropriately subject to administrative appeal. Accordingly, a new paragraph (g) Decision final, has been added to clearly state that this determination is not subject to appeal. However, paragraph (a) of this section of the final rule contains a new sentence that makes explicit that a nomination may be resubmitted for listing, thus acknowledging that a decision not to list a cave may be changed when better or new information accompanies the nomination.

Section 290.4 Confidentiality of Cave Information

The majority of respondents focused on three concerns:

·  (1) That the confidentiality language of the proposed rule went beyond the intent of the Act. They specifically noted that the provisions were to apply only cave locations, not other cave information. Further, they felt that these provisions would inhibit exchange of information between the caving community and the Federal agencies.

·  (2) That caves not designated significant have their locations protected under confidentiality provisions. Otherwise, all information about that cave would become public.

·  (3) That denial of cave location information be subject to appeal. A couple of respondents noted that the requirements for requesting information differed between the FS proposed rule and the USDI proposed rule. Two others expressed the concern that without knowing the exact location of a cave, it is impossible for a mineral lessee to know whether the cave will affect his lease.

Paragraph (a) has been revised to indicate that only location information will be held confidential, but other specific information could be withheld if, in the judgment of the authorized officer, it would reveal the location of a cave. Locational information for all caves will be protected until the designation decision is made. This protection will continue for caves listed as significant. The information submitted for caves that are not listed will be returned to the person or organization submitting the nomination. Consequently, the responsibility for maintaining the confidentiality of unlisted caves will rest with the originator of the information and not with the agency.

Paragraph (b) of this section has procedures to request confidential information, and has been rewritten to be identical to the language adopted by the USDI in its final rule for uniformity.

Paragraph (c) which states the decision regarding access to information is not appealable, has been retained. The Act provides specific exemption from the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. It is the Department's determination that the appeal process would not further public interest in protecting cave information. A procedure exists to permit the release of cave locations. The authorized officer will release cave location information based on a written request and a determination that the request would further the purposes of the Act and would not create substantial risk of harm, theft, or destruction of such cave.

General Comments on 36 CFR Part 261

Implementation of Proposed Prohibitions

One respondent was confused by the prohibitions. A concern was expressed that some additional action must occur for the prohibition to take effect.

Prohibitions applying to National Forest System Lands are separated into three Subparts: General Prohibitions; Prohibitions in Areas Designated by Order, and Prohibitions in Regions. General Prohibitions are enforced on all National Forest System lands and do not require any formal posting. Prohibitions in Areas Designated by Order require an additional action to inform a forest visitor. The order must be posted in accordance with 261.51 of this chapter.

Criminal and Civil Penalties

Several respondents noted that existing penalties do not correspond to the penalties described in Sections 7 and 8 of the Act.

The primary purpose of the current rulemaking was to establish the criteria for significant caves. Where it was expedient to make minor adjustments to existing prohibitions in order to help protect significant cave resources, this was also done. If experience with administering significant cave resources shows additional regulations and penalties are needed, subsequent rule making specific to those management concerns will be undertaken.

Collection and Removal From Federal Caves

Several respondents noted that the rule is unclear on how collecting permits will be issued or regulated.

The Forest Service has an established procedure for issuing special use permits, which is regulated through rules of subpart B of part 251, title 36. All permits for significant caves must be in accordance with this regulation.

Section-by-Section On Comments on 36 CFR Section 261.2 Definitions

Section 261.2 Definitions

All respondents commenting on definitions of caves and cave resources under 290 2. repeated their comments here. Several respondents noted that these definitions should be identical to those defined in section 290.2

This suggestion was adopted and identical definitions are provided in ??290.2 and 261.2.

Section 261.8 Fish and Wildlife

Respondents were concerned that this prohibition would not allow a gate to be installed if it was needed to protect a species, including those listed as threatened or endangered.

The paragraph was modified to address this concern by adding "…except as authorized to protect a cave resource." A gate was not specifically cited since there may be other types of installations that could curtail the movement of cave life to protect a cave resource.

Section 261.9(j) Property

Two respondents were confused by the intent of this paragraph. One asked whether enlarging a naturally occurring cave passage or entrance would require a special use authorization. Another requested clarification stating that a special use authorization cannot permit damage to or excavation of, a significant cave. One respondent suggested adding a new prohibition to address section 7(a)(2) of the Act dealing with possessing, consuming. selling, bartering, or exchanging any cave resource without authorization.

Section 7(a)(1) of the Act states that activities that may lead to destroying, altering, or removing of cave resources or interfering with free movement of plant or animal life may only be permitted with prior authorization. Thus, any excavation of a cave passage or entrance would have to be approved by a special use authorization. A special use authorization permitting excavation in a cave is site-specific, thus, this provision does not encourage nor allow blanket approval for this type of activity for all caves on a given forest. A clause has been added prohibiting the removal of any cave resource for commercial purposes.

Section 261.10(d) Occupancy and Use

One respondent requested the wording in this section include the cave entrance area. Another requested that the discharge of fireworks be prohibited.

The proposed wording has been retained. The cave entrance area is protected by the existing wording in paragraphs (d)(l) and (d)(2).

A new paragraph (n) was added to specifically address the discharge of fireworks. No existing prohibition addressed this human safety concern.

Section 261.58(ee) Occupancy and Use

Most respondents requested that "litter" be incorporated into this clause.

A couple of respondents felt that additional wording was needed to allow cavers to bring and remove their own receptacles. Another respondent recommended that fluid wastes be considered on a cave by cave basis.

Paragraph 11(b) of this section already prohibits "Possessing or leaving…litter in an exposed or unsanitary condition." Current wording does not specify who must provide receptacles; therefore, it can be interpreted that cavers may bring in and remove their own receptacles. Since this prohibition is applicable to a specific area designated through an order by the Forest Supervisor, there is flexibility to add an exception for a particular cave to only prohibit solid wastes.

Regulatory Impact

This final rule has been reviewed under USDA procedures and Executive Order 12866 on Regulatory Planning and Review. It has been determined that this is not a significant rule. This rule will not have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy nor adversely affect productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, nor State or local governments. This rule will not interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency nor raise new legal or policy issues. Finally, this action will not alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients of such programs.

Moreover, this final rule has been considered in light of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et. seq.), and it has been determined that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities as defined by that Act. To the extent that small entities engaged in resource extraction activities may have to site operations to protect significant caves, these requirements are the minimum necessary to protect the public interest, and are well within the capability of small entities to perform.

Environmental Impact

Based on both experience and environmental analysis, this final rule (or final policy) will have no significant effect on the human environment, individually or cumulatively. Therefore, it is categorically excluded from documentation in an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement (40 CFR 1508.4).

Controlling Paperwork Burdens on the Public

The information required by this rule institutes new information collection requirements as defined in 5 CFR part 1320, Controlling Paperwork Burdens on the Public. In accordance with those rules and the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 (44 U.S.C. 3507), the Forest Service received approval from the Office of Management and Budget to collect cave nomination information and confidential cave information. The agency estimates that each person will spend an average of three hours per response for a cave nomination and one half hour per response for the confidential cave information request.

No Taking Implications

This rule has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and criteria contained in Executive Order 12630, and it has been determined that the rule does not pose the risk of a taking of Constitutionally protected private property.

List of Subjects

·  36 CFR Part 261

·  Prohibitions, National forests.

·  36 CFR Part 290

·  Cave resources management, National forests

Therefore, for the reasons set out in the preamble, title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended by amending part 261 and adding a new part 290 as set forth below.


·  1. Revise the authority citation for part 261 to read as follows:

Authority 16 U.S.C. 551; 16 U.S.C. 472; 7 U.S.C. 1011(f), 16 U.S.C. 1246(i), 16 U.S.C 1133(c)-(d)(1); 16 U.S.C. 4306, 4307.

Subpart A-General Prohibitions

·  2. Amend ? 261.2 by adding definitions for the terms "cave" and "cave resources" in alphabetical order to read as follows:

? 261.2 Definitions

* * * * * *

Cave means any naturally occurring void, cavity recess. or system of interconnected passages beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge and which is large enough to permit a person to enter, whether the entrance is excavated or naturally formed. Such term shall include any natural pit, sinkhole, or other opening which is an extensive [sic] of a cave entrance or which is an integral part of the cave.

Cave resources mean any materials or substances occurring in caves including, but not limited to, biotic, cultural, mineralogic, paleontologic, geologic, and hydrologic resources.

* * * * * *

·  3. Amend 261.8 by adding a new paragraph (e) to read as follows:

? 261.8 Fish and Wildlife

* * * * * *

(e) Curtail the free movement of any animal or plant life into or out of a cave, except as authorized to protect a cave resource.

·  4. Amend ? 261.9 by adding a new paragraph (j) to read as follows:

? 261.9 Property.

* * * * * *

(j) Excavating, damaging, or removing any cave resource from a cave without a special use authorization, or removing any cave resource for commercial purposes.

·  5. Amend 261.10 by revising paragraph (d) introductory text and adding new paragraphs (d)(3) and (n) to read as follows:

? 261.10 Occupancy and use.

* * * * * *

·  (d) Discharging a firearm or any other implement capable of taking human life, causing injury, or damaging property as follows:

·  (1) …

·  (2) …

* * * * * *

·  (3) into or within any cave.

·  (n) Discharging or igniting a firecracker, rocket or other firework, or explosive into or within any cave.

Subpart B--Prohibitions in Areas Designated by 0rder

·  6. Amend ? 261.58 by adding a new paragraph (ee) to read as follows:

?261.58 Occupancy and Use

·  (ee) Depositing any body waste in caves except into receptacles provided for that purpose.

·  7. Add a new part 290 to read as follows:


·  Sec.

·  290.1 Purpose and Scope

·  290.2 Definitions

·  290.3 Nomination, evaluation, and designation of significant caves.

·  290.4 Confidentiality of cave location information

·  290.5 Collection of information.

Authority: 16 USC 4301-4309; 102 Stat. 4546.

?290.1 Purpose and scope.

The rules of this part implement the requirements of the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 4301-4309), hereafter referred to as the "Act". The rules apply to cave management on National Forest System lands. These rules, in conjunction with rules in part 261 of this chapter, provide the basis for identifying and managing significant caves on National Forest System lands in accordance with the Act. National Forest System lands will be managed in a manner which, to the extent practical, protects and maintains significant cave resources in accordance with the policies outlined in the Forest Service Directive System and the management direction contained in the individual forest plans.

?290.2 Definitions

For the purposes of this part, the terms listed in this section have the following meaning:

·  Authorized officer means the Forest Service employee delegated the authority to perform the duties described in this part.

·  Cave means any naturally occurring void, cavity, recess, or system of interconnected passages beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge and which is large enough to permit a person to enter, whether the entrance is excavated or naturally formed. Such term shall include any natural pit, sinkhole, or other opening which is an extension of a cave entrance or which is an integral part of the cave.

·  Cave resources means any materials or substances occurring in caves including but not limited to, biotic, cultural, mineralogic, paleontologic, geologic, and hydrologic resources.

·  National Forest System lands means all national forest lands reserved or withdrawn from the public domain, acquired through purchase, exchange, or donation, national grasslands and land utilization projects, and other lands, waters, or interests administered by the Forest Service.

·  Secretary means the Secretary of Agriculture.

·  Significant cave means a cave located on National Forest System lands that has been determined to meet the criteria in ? 290.3 (c3 and (d) and has been designated in accordance with ? 290.3(e).

?290.3 Nomination, evaluation and designation of significant caves.

(A) Nominations for initial and subsequent listings. The authorized officer will give governmental agencies and the public, including those who utilize caves for scientific, educational, or recreational purposes, the opportunity to nominate caves. The authorized officer shall give public notice, including a notice published in the Federal Register, calling for nominations for the initial listing and setting forth the procedure for preparing and submitting the nominations. Nominations for subsequent listings will be accepted from governmental agencies and the public by the Forest Supervisor where the cave is located as new cave discoveries are made. Caves nominated but not approved for designation may be renominated as additional documentation or new information becomes available.

(b) Evaluation for initial and subsequent listings. The evaluation of the nominations for significant caves will be carried out in consultation with individuals and organizations interested in the management and use of caves and cave resources, within the limits imposed by the confidentiality provisions of ?290.4. Nominations shall be evaluated using the criteria in ?290.3 (c) and (d).

(c) Criteria for significant caves. A significant cave on National Forest System lands shall possess one or more of the following features, characteristics, or values.

·  (1) Biota. The cave provides seasonal or yearlong habitat for organisms or animals, or contains species or subspecies of flora or fauna native to caves, or are sensitive to disturbance, or are found on State or Federal sensitive, threatened, or endangered species lists

·  (2) Cultural. The cave contains historic properties or archeological resources (as defined in Parts 800.2 and 296.3 of this chapter respectively, or in 16 U.S.C. 470. et seq.), or other features included in or eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places because of their research importance for history or prehistory, historical associations, or other historical or traditional significance.

·  (3) Geologic/Mineralogic/ Paleontologic. The cave possesses one or more of the following features:

·  (i) Geologic or mineralogic features that are fragile, represent formation processes that are of scientific interest, or that are otherwise useful for study.

·  (ii) Deposits of sediments or features useful for evaluating past events.

·  (iii) Paleontologic resources with potential to contribute useful educational or scientific information.

·  (4) Hydrologic. The caveis a part of a hydrologic system or contains water which is important to humans, biota, or development of cave resource

·  (5) Recreational. The cave provides or could provide recreational opportunities or scenic values.

·  (6) Educational or scientific. The cave offers opportunities for educational or scientific use; or the cave is virtually in a pristine state, lacking evidence of contemporary human disturbance or impact; or, the length, volume, total depth, pit depth, height, or similar measurements are notable.

·  (d) Specially designated areas. All caves located within special management areas, such as Special Geologic Areas. Research Natural Areas or National Monuments, that are dedicated wholly or in part due to the cave resources found therein are determined to be significant.

·  (e) Designation and documentation. If the authorized officer determines that a cave nominated and evaluated under paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section meets one or more of the criteria in paragraph (c) of this section, the authorized officer shall designate the cave as significant. The authorized officer will notify the nominating party of the results of the evaluation and designation. Each forest will retain appropriate documentation for all significant caves located within its administrative boundaries. At a minimum, this documentation shall include a statement of finding signed and dated by the authorized officer and the information used to make the determination. This documentation will be retained as a permanent record in accordance with the confidentiality provision in ?290.4.

·  (f) Undiscovered passages. If a cave is determined to be significant, its entire extent on federal land, including passages not mapped or discovered at the time of the determination, is deemed significant. This includes caves that extend from lands managed by any other Federal agency into National Forest System lands, as well as caves initially believed to be separate for which interconnecting passages are discovered after significance is determined.

·  (g] Decision final. The decision to designate or not designate a cave as significant is made at the sole discretion of the authorized officer based upon the criteria in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section and is not subject to further administrative review of [sic] appeal under Parts 217 or 251.82 of this chapter.

?290.4 Confidentiality of cave location information.

·  (a) Information disclosure. No Forest Service employee shall disclose any information that could be used to determine the location of a significant cave or a cave nominated for designation.unless the authorized officer determines that disclosure will further the purposes of the Act and will not create a substantial risk of harm theft, or destruction to cave resources.

·  (b) Requesting confidential information. Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section, the authorized officer may make confidential cave information available to Federal or State governmental agencies, bona fide educational or research institutes, or individuals or organizations assisting the land management agencies with cave management activity. To request confidential cave information, such ' entities shall make a written request to the authorized officer which includes the following

·  (1) Name. address, and telephone number of the individual responsible for the security of the information received;

·  (2) A legal description of the area for which the information is sought;

·  (3) A statement of the purpose for which the information is sought; and

·  (4) Written assurances that the requesting party will maintain the confidentiality of the information and protect the cave and its resources.

·  (c) Decision final. The decision to permit or deny access to confidential cave information is made at the sole discretion of the authorized officer and is not subject to further administrative review or appeal under 5 U.S.C 552 or parts 217 or 251.82 of this chapter.

?290.5 Collection of Information.

The collection of information contained in this rule represents new information requirements as defined in 5 CFR part 1320, Controlling Paperwork Burdens on the Public. In accordance with those rules and the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 as amended (44 U.S.C. 3507), the Forest Service has received approval by the Office of Management and Budget to collect cave nomination information under clearance number 0596-0123 and confidential information under 0596-0122. The information provided for the cave nominations will be used to determine which caves will be listed as "significant" and the information in the requests to obtain confidential cave information will be used to decide whether to grant access to this information. Response to the call for cave nominations is voluntary. No action may be taken against a person for refusing to supply the information requested. Response to the information requirements for obtaining confidential cave information is required to obtain a benefit in accordance with section 5 of the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988 (16 U.S.C. 4304).

·  Date: May 17, 1994

·  James R. Lyons,

·  Assistant Secretary, Natural Resources and Environment.

·  [FR Doc. 94-14714 Filed 6-16-94; 8:45 am]

·  Billing code 3410-11-M

Nomination of Significant Caves

Federal Register Vol. 59 No. 116 Friday, June 17, 1994.

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA

ACTION: Notice and call for nominations

SUMMARY: The Secretary of Agriculture is requesting nominations for the listing of significant caves on National Forest System lands administered by the Forest Service. This call for nominations is in response to provisions in the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988 which directs the Secretary of Agriculture to prepare and maintain a listing of significant caves.

DATES: Nominations to be considered for the initial listing of significant caves must be received by December 14, 1994. Nominations received after this date will be considered in subsequent listings.

ADDRESSES: Send written nominations to Cave Nominating Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 10, Three Rivers, CA 93271.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brent Botts, USDA, Forest Service, P.O. Box 960990, Washington, DC 20090-6090, 202-205-1313.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The criteria for selection of significant caves is found in part 290 of title 36 Code of Federal Regulations. Federal caves considered for nomination must meet one or more of the criteria listed in 36 CFR part 290.3(c). Any person or organization may submit a nomination.

Nominations must follow a prescribed format as outlined in an information packet which is available from a forest or regional office of the Forest Service. Copies of the information packet can also be obtained by writing Brent Botts, Cave Coordinator. P.O. Box 96090, Washington, DC 20090-6090.

Dated: May 31, 1994

David A. Harcharik.

Acting Chief, Forest Service.

Nominate Significant Caves on Department of the Interior Lands by October 7, 1994. Nominate Significant caves on Forest Service Lands by December 14, 1994.

Send nominations to:

Cave Nominating Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 10, Three Rivers, CA 93271

reprinted from CATENA SUPPLEMENT 25, p. 251268. Cremlingen 1993

Effects of Tourist Development on Caves and Karst

G. Huppert, E. Burri, P. Forti & A. Cigna

Reprinted from CATENA Supplement 25: P. W. Williams (Editor): Karst Terrains, Environmental Changes, Human Impact.


Soluble rocks cover perhaps twenty percent of the Earth's surface. A significant number of parks and nature reserves have been developed in karst areas. Some of the most significant caves in the world are located in these parks and reserves. These unique places are fascinating to the public, and many attract large numbers of tourists. Unfortunately, the simple act of visitation by people often results in deterioration of the resource.

Many of the problems confronted by administrators and planners in karstic parks are similar to those in any other park or reserve. These individual problems can be considered as specific aspects of the overall challenge to present the resource to as many visitors as possible without allowing any permanent damage. Caves and karst areas also have some special difficulties related to their unique environment. Management of these reserves has often been less than successful in meeting this overall challenge, in many areas of the world.

Evidence from research on karst parks and tourist caves shows a decline over time in the diversity of biota and a general degradation of the park experience for most tourists; these are just two of the many specific problems. This paper reviews some of the most common problems in cave and karst parks.

The management of any tourist area must consider the carrying capacity of the overall resource. Many of the specific problems result from a lack of understanding of how to evaluate that carrying capacity and how to implement proper protective actions based on such an evaluation. Often, the initial barrier to a determination of the carrying capacity is the lack of even baseline measurements of the principle environmental parameters within the ecosystem. In other instances, the problem may be the manager's inability to resist the political pressures to allow excessive visitation, for the lure of the tourist revenue. A determination of the 'limits of acceptable change' may be a more useful guideline for evaluating cave development and visitor impacts.

The basic lack of knowledge about the dynamics of the individual karst ecosystems often contribute to the specific problems. However, even when partial solutions are known to work, the expense of making such changes may deter the enactment of those mitigating measures. A simple example is the adjustment of lighting systems to reduce or eliminate the growth of algae, mosses, and other foreign organisms.

Deterioration of the resource has occurred in many karst parks and reserves around the world. This situation will probably not improve until there is a serious commitment, in both effort and money, directed at obtaining a better understanding of the natural ecosystems, all of the impacts caused by human visitation, and the management alternatives necessary to protect the resource.

1. Overview of environmental problems in karstic parks and reserves

Most parks and reserves are created in order to safeguard various areas which have particular biological and/or geological uniqueness. Those in karst regions have been designated as reserves in need of protection because of their rare qualities and scientific significance (DUNKLEY and REIDER 1975, HALLIDAY 1981, WILLIAMS 1987, FORTI & GRIMANDI 1987, BURRI 1989, BURRI & SAURO 1989, GILLIESON & SMITH 1989, KRANJC 1989, SAURO et al., 1991). The beauty of these areas has led to a great influx of tourists. HABE (1981) estimates that there are about 650 tourist caves worldwide. Based on more recent data, however, SOULE (1992) estimates a worldwide total of 750 show caves, with approximately 180 operating show caves in the United States that process about 16 million visitors annually. MAXSIMOVICH (1977) concludes that over 15 million tourists visit the show caves of the 'eastern hemisphere' annually. Considering these estimates and the great number of show caves in the 'west,' then visitation to caves worldwide totals well over 30 million per year. Visitation, especially in large numbers, often leads to a decline in the environmental quality of the reserve and of surrounding areas because the sensitive landscape cannot cope with such heavy use.

Figure 1: Factors producing environmental impacts on cave conditions at Waitomo Glowworm Cave. New Zealand (from WILLIAMS 1987, p. 92).

In order to reconcile the need for conservation with that of tourism, the reserves and surrounding areas are often subdivided into sectors having differing levels of protection. This technique, which is used extensively in Europe and North America, may close the most ecologically delicate areas to tourists. Undoubtedly, it has solved some of the problems of deterioration. In reality, however, the weakness of this method is in deciding where the boundaries should be drawn. This is of even more concern in sensitive karst regions. In many cases an administrative decision, which places the boundaries, does not even get to the root of the problem. These decisions are often made because it is easier or more politically expedient to do so than it would be to intensively study the karst dynamics and then design a plan to fit observed parameters. This sort of protection can, at best, be only partially successful. The heavy visitation of areas surrounding the reserve puts great human demand on them, so hastening their decline. Sometimes the high visitation pressure on surrounding areas has actually added to the deterioration of the reserve, even in some reserves which are completely closed to any activities.

The literature on the need for karst protection is limited but has improved greatly within the past few years. A few articles that appeared recently are notable and deserve mention. First, are GOLDIE's works on damage to limestone pavements in Great Britain (1986, 1987). LOZEK (1990) presents a general review of the impact of varied human activities on karst landscapes by documenting the entire sequence of occupance of the karst. STEFKA (1990) studied the problem of development on, and adjacent to, karst using the Moravian Karst as a case study. He finds that the greatest problem is the overutilization of the area by tourists and the facilities that they demand. VANECKOVA & VASATKO (1990), in studying the same area, found significant biotic changes on the karst due to agriculture, forestry, and tourist development. TULIS (1990), in another Czechoslovakian national park, reaches similar conclusions that the karst parks are being used well beyond their ability to recover from humaninduced environmental damage. He feels that cave closing has been quite successful. However, it is typical for closed caves to continue to be damaged from external forces such as uncontrolled, polluted drainage. KIERNAN (1988) presents similar information on management of soluble rock landscapes in Australia. In this same work he has compiled a bibliography of over three hundred entries that is invaluable for cave and karst management.

The recent development of a nature reserve at the source of the Pescara River in central Italy is one example of poor planning in a karst watershed. The source of this important river (which produces 7 m3/sec of water) has been strictly protected, but its large watershed (both above and below ground) has not been taken into consideration.

Reserves are open systems within which human activities are carried out. These activities change the environment because of the development of an infrastructure, including water, waste drainage, communication, energy, and transportation networks, and the structures required to support such development. This infrastructure may be largely developed away from the caves but may still have an impact due to the open nature of the karstic system, especially on the regional karst hydrology. Most tourist caves in the United States have no buffer of surrounding reserve lands to protect the integrity of their ecosystems. These caves usually suffer more severe damage than those with a large buffer of protected land.

Figure 2: Framework of the limits of acceptable change process (from STANKEY, McCOOL and STOKES 1990, p. 222).

Figure 1 is a model devised by WILLIAMS (1987) to show factors that influence the environment within Waitomo Glowworm Cave in New Zealand. With some modification such a model could be adapted to the environmental conditions of any cave. The external infrastructure would be reflected in the catchment condition box of the model. A general study of these energy exchanges should be an important, although probably not inexpensive, first step in developing a management plan for a cave.

Abruzzo National Park covers some 40,000 hectares in central Italy. About one million tourists a year visit this karstic park. The human impact, even if it is limited to specific periods of the year, approaches that of heavily populated cities. Attempts at preserving this park has forced the closure of everincreasing areas to tourist use. This has led to greater pressure on those sectors that remain open.

This effect can also be seen at Mammoth Cave National Park in the United States, where during peak use periods many tourists are refused tickets to already oversized tours. The criteria used to determine tour size, according to WINTER (1992), are maintaining the quality of the interpretative presentation and protecting the resource. However, there is no formula used in selecting tour size. "Management experience", a "gut feeling", and logistical factors are actually used in determining the number of participants on a given tour. The overriding factor seems to be the maximum number that two rangers feel they can monitor while simultaneously presenting the cave interpretive program.

The basis of this problem is the lack of specific information on the results of human activities in the protected karst areas. Little qualitative or quantitative information has been gathered relative to the magnitude of the problem. The few statistics available have been used in an attempt to quantify a 'limit of acceptability' of pollution or a 'limit of acceptable change' (LAC) in the karst environment. This concept is currently only a theoretical goal; it will be difficult to check the credibility of this concept until it has been applied to cave management and the results have been analyzed.

Figure 2 shows a model developed by STANKEY et al., (1990) that outlines the application of the LAC concept In their discussion. the authors explain in detail how to evaluate the limits of acceptable change in surface wilderness areas. Parameters relevant to the cave environment are shown in Figure 1 with modification for the uniqueness of individual caves. The amount of acceptable change would vary from cave to cave, depending on the existing condition of the cave, the biota present, and the potential for recovery. Nonenvironmental factors which will undoubtedly play a role include money available, public desires, and political pressure.

2. The assessment of environmental problems in tourist caves

2.1 The visitor capacity of a tourist cave

The concept of an environmental capacity has been accepted for years. It has been used for the management of low level radioactive wastes (AMAVIS et al. 1974) and in range management in the United States (called carrying capacity).

The concept of "visitor carrying capacity" as applied to caves has been extensively discussed in the literature by ALEY (1976), BRUCKER (1976), VAN CLEAVE (1976), FORSSELL (1977), and MIDDAUGH (1977). VAN CLEAVE (1976) shows that there must be a commitment to cave and karst protection in both desire and money in order for the concept to work. MIDDAUGH (1977) cautions that carrying capacity is not the calculation of a number but rather, it is the definition of a problem, the definition of objectives to solve that problem, and the implementation of proper management to solve the problem. At this time, most of the well known tourist caves in the world are undoubtedly operated at levels well above any reasonable or environmentally derived carrying capacity.

CIGNA (1983, p. 124) expands on this concept with respect to caves as follows: "Visitors capacity can be defined as the maximum number of visitors acceptable in a time unit under defined conditions which does not imply a permanent modification of a relevant parameter." This definition is based on the following assumptions:

·  1. Natural fluctuations of environmental parameters are considered safe for the integrity of the environment itself. This concept implies that abnormal (and unusual) phenomena are excluded. For example, a volcanic eruption may be the cause of a natural fluctuation which could destroy a cave. Therefore the range of natural fluctuations must be limited within the extreme values that do not result in irreversible effects on a short term basis.

·  2. If the number of visitors in a cave per unit time is gradually increased, one environmental parameter will exceed the range of its natural fluctuation prior to other parameters. Such a parameter can be defined as a critical factor. The term 'critical' need not imply any idea of danger. It describes a factor which enables managers to make decisions on levels of protection for the cave environment.

·  3. The visitor capacity corresponds to the maximum flow of tourists through the cave that changes the critical factor to the limit of its natural fluctuations.

·  4. The classification of environmental parameters into major and minor parameters is rather arbitrary. If air temperature, carbon dioxide concentration, and water quality are classified as major parameters, the appropriate classification of the other parameters may require detailed study. The significance of the other parameters may vary widely between caves.

The establishment of the maximum number of visitors is difficult and may well be impossible in some cases. Sometimes these numbers have been used to satisfy management objectives by those who, unfortunately, may put a higher priority on moving people (and therefore increasing revenue) than on protecting the karst.

ALEY (1976) describes another important problem in caves, which can actually become exacerbated by the use of carrying capacity numbers as a management technique. He correctly argues that most show caves have abundant nonrenewable resources in their speleothem display. Once damaged, these resources cannot be replaced, at least not in human lifetimes. A cave with one or more highly decorated passages could require a low carrying capacity if the decorations are within human reach of the trail, or within the sphere of influence of humaninduced changes that adversely affect the speleothems. As damage is incurred and speleothems are removed, broken, defaced, or tainted, then the passage becomes less pristine. At that point, it can be argued that the carrying capacity has risen because fewer speleothems now remain to be damaged and the quality of the experience has been denigrated. This is contrary to the entire concept of carrying capacity, which dictates that use levels should decline as the resource declines. This is a phenomenon often ignored by cave managers. However, if the goal is to maintain any specific show cave in a pristine or nearpristine condition, a realistic number of visitors must be determined and applied as a management criterion. To do this with any level of confidence, a thorough study of each cave's features, ecosystem parameters, and hydrology must be made. This is undoubtedly a difficult task, given the budget constraints of most show caves, whether managed by some level of government or by the private sector. In the long run, however, this may be the most costeffective alternative, in order to sustain the touristderived revenue from the cave, concomitant with sustaining its ecologic and aesthetic integrity.

The concept of carrying capacity is now being questioned, as it is applied to general recreational use. HAMMITT and COLE (1987) feel that strict use of the concept in the recreational setting does not work well for two reasons. First, the impacts of recreational uses differ greatly from those of range animals (for which the concept was originally designed to control). Second, they argue that the concept ignores the impact on the visitor's aesthetic experience; i.e., the social carrying capacity (defined as how people feel about the quality of the experience) must also be measured. However, this can vary greatly among individuals. While it may be possible to subdivide surface reserves to accommodate the tastes of the various users (e.g., from high impact use such as offroad vehicle areas to near pristine wilderness), similar possibilities are quite limited in show caves. Unfortunately, the authors know of no study that applies this concept to the cave environment in a quantitative method.

Recently, HEATON (1986) reviewed the concept of energy levels as applied to caves. He classifies caves into one of three categories: highenergy, moderateenergy, and lowenergy levels. Highenergy caves experience high energy events on a regular basis. An example would be those caves that undergo periodic flooding. The strongest forces normally encountered by moderateenergy caves are orders of magnitude lower than those associated with highenergy caves. The most significant forces may be running water, persistent wind, or even the activities of animals. Lowenergy caves are again orders of magnitude smaller. Often in these caves the highest energy event may be a falling drop of water.

According to this classification, highenergy passages will be minimally affected by tourist activities because such passages will be rearranged by rock fall or flooding within a year. In moderateenergy passages, which often have the most abundant displays of speleothems, the presence of visitors may have a more lasting effect. During short periods of time the energy released by tourists can be of the same order of magnitude as that released by natural processes which normally operate in those caves. This could lead to irreversible damage. A visit to a lowenergy cave may have more serious implications because in a very short time interval more energy could be released than it had experienced in perhaps a thousand years. The damage caused by one group of visitors may be profound and the speleothems may quickly be destroyed. It is the authors' experience that most tour caves are found to be in the low to moderate energy range, due to the difficulty and great cost of developing and maintaining high energy tour caves.

The field situation is far more complex than the simplified examples of energy levels given above. A single cave may exhibit examples of all three energy levels when different sections of a given cave are considered. Because tourist trails may cross all three energy levels, each area should be regarded separately in a coherent overall management plan. Devising and implementing such a plan would undoubtedly be a complicated and expensive process.

The use of a visitor carrying capacity model could be modified to 'fit' certain caves that have unique resources. For example, those caves with rare and generally irreplaceable cultural, biological, and/or speleothem resources and which are easily destroyed merely by the presence of visitors could be managed in a very restrictive manner. Caves in this category would be few and considered national or international treasures. Two examples are Lechuguilla Cave in the U.S.A. and Lascaux in France. Another category could be those caves with rare and significant ecological resources that could be sustained even with visitation, providing they have adequate management. An example would be the glowworm resource in Waitomo Glowworm Cave in New Zealand. The last category would be those caves with minimal cultural, ecological or speleothem resources. This type of classification is already being carried out in many of the undeveloped caves on federal government managed land in the United States. In many cases, caves with significant resources require permits to enter and limits are put on party size; also, visitation may be restricted to a particular time of year and there may be limits to where one can travel in the cave. These management techniques help control and direct traffic to minimize damage. They also restrict most damage to the heavily traveled routes and create a distancedecay relationship of impacts as distance from the trail increases. This relationship generally applies to large show caves where the tourist route is only a small fraction of the entire cave.

Applying the concept of visitor carrying capacity to a tourist cave to set a maximum number of visitors is a risky, however compelling, exercise. It should only be undertaken after fully assessing all of the environmental data collected. In some cases, the most difficult task will be to have the political courage to resist pressure to allow excessive visitation for the sake of efficiency or tourist revenue.

2.2 The direct effects of tourists

The presence of visitors in a cave may introduce thermal, chemical, and biological pollution. The heat emitted by visitors raises the air temperature. Two examples of this effect are shown in Figure 3. The graphs demonstrate the dramatic rise in temperature that can occur as tourist groups pass through a cave room. In these two examples, the recovery time after the tourists pass through is exponential and in the range of ten minutes. STELCL (1990, 1992) found similar results in caves in the Moravian karst. In the Hall of Paintings in Altamira Cave in Spain, VILLAR et al. (1984) determined a heat release per person ranging between 82 and 116 watts (1 W = 1 J/sec).

Figure 3: Upper diagram: Air temperature measured in Remouchamps Cave (Belgium), near the 'Boudoir des Fees' coincident with the visit of a group of 87 tourists. (Black line indicates the visitation time.) (from MERENNE-SCHOUMAKER 1975).

Chemical pollution from visitors is largely due to the emission of carbon dioxide. Any prolonged significant increase in CO2 concentration may affect the chemical equilibria of speleothems and cause their gradual disintegration. DRAGOVICH and GROSE (1990) studied the problem of CO2 levels at Jenolan Caves in Australia. They documented increases in the concentration of CO2 between 2.5 and nearly 4 times as a result of the presence of tours in the caves. The maximum recorded CO2 concentration in Jenolan Caves, at 1500 parts per million (ppm), is below the defined limestone corrosion level of 2400 ppm; it is also well below the limit set for human safety of 5000 ppm. This article demonstrates that carefully designed studies with precise measurements of environmental parameters can produce results which are useful for management decisions.

The biological pollution contributed by tourists is from their 'cloud' of spores and bacteria, skin particles, hair, and lint. The consequence of this input is to enhance the growth of algae, mosses, and other organisms. According to a hypothesis by CSER & GADOROS (1989) some eccentric speleothems could originate with the help of aerosols. The increase of condensation nuclei due to spores, dust, and droplets in the breath of tourists could reduce the concentration of aerosols responsible for the growth of eccentrics. In some commercial caves this effect has apparently enhanced the transformation of eccentric formations into coralloid speleothems.

In addition, a more noticeable product of this 'cloud' of material is the layer of 'dust' ubiquitous to tourist caves. This layer of material detracts greatly from the beauty of the cave and may have a detrimental effect on the natural biota of the cave by providing a habitat for exotic, and possibly, harmful organisms (JABLONSKY 1990, 1992). In some caves the problem is so severe that periodic cleaning (by mist) is deemed necessary, as described by NEWBOULDS (1976) in respect to Orient Cave, at Jenolan, Australia. Most often, however, the problem is ignored due to the expense and difficulty of cleaning. A significant part of that cost involves the design and use of physical traps or diversions and conveyance systems to isolate and remove the dirty water from the natural hydrologic complex of the cave.

The changes in temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide concentration, and general disturbance by tourist groups has a well documented role in leading to the decline of bat populations in most show caves. However, MOHR (1972) argues that the dramatic decline in bat populations is the result of many factors, with tourism being only one. Other problems faced by bats are extreme exposure to pesticides, wanton vandalism, disturbance by spelunkers, and even detrimental impacts from the very scientists who are studying them. MOHR (1972) suggests that caves with bats be managed so that there is a greatly reduced contact between people and bats, especially during sensitive periods. The alternative might be a substantial risk that the bats will abandon the caves. This topic is covered in great detail by TUTTLE & STEVENSON (1978). In addition, inadequate and/or inappropriate security gating of many caves has allowed the devastation of many bat populations (TUTTLE 1977).

Other species have suffered from cave development as well. For example, when bats abandon a cave, the tremendous energy source in their guano declines also. The biota which depend on the guano for food will ultimately be eliminated, and this may eventually lead to the collapse of the entire cave ecosystem.

Great care must be taken to retain and stabilize the microclimates found in caves. ALEY & ALEY (1988) have noted that original microclimates may be restored in some caves; however, it can be an expensive proposition.

Finally, tourists can have a direct impact on caves by touching or breaking speleothems. Whether accidental or deliberate, the results are the same: a rapid and significant degradation of the resource. This can be prevented in a number of ways. First, people can be educated with a discussion of the fragility of the formations at the beginning of the tour. Second, when possible, tours can be routed to keep speleothems out of reach but not out of view. Third, the tour group can be limited to a size that can reasonably be accommodated on the trail to avoid accidental damage, and so that the guide(s) can maintain eye contact at all times to inhibit deliberate destruction. These actions will not always prevent damage, but should reduce the rate of destruction.

2.3 The effect of lighting

The lighting system in a cave contributes heat to the cave ecosystem. If this energy release exceeds the energy budget of the cave the inside temperature will increase and reach stationary values higher than natural ones. This effect is well demonstrated in Figure 4 where an average increase of 3?C is documented over a twentyfour year period for Castellana Cave, a show cave near Bari, Italy (MONGELLI 1961, FORTI & CIGNA 1983, CIGNA 1989). It is necessary to consider each heat source (lighting, visitors, transformers, others) separately in order to evaluate the total energy input to the cave, relative to the cave's capacity to accommodate the impact without detrimental consequences.

Close to light sources the effects may be both physical (thermal) and biological. For example, when lamps are not 'coollight' the IRthermal effect can be severe. In Castellana Cave (FORTI 1980) the temperature of a rock wall at 50 cm from a 1 kW lamp increased from 15?C to more than 25?C, the humidity decreased from 95100% to 5560%, and a strong air current was established. All of this occurred in a few seconds after the light was turned on. As a result of these effects an aragonite flower grew on a calcite stalactite.

Figure 4: Distribution of air temperatures in the Castellana Cave (Bari, Italy). Measurements made in 1958 60 (squares; MONGELLI 1961) and in 1982 (dots; FORTI and CIGNA 1983) are shown. An average increase of about 3?C is quite evident.

Biologically, a common effect is the proliferation of algae and mosses (collectively, termed 'lampenflora') near the light sources. These organisms not only have a negative aesthetic influence on the cave environment, but can also corrode speleothems by biochemical processes. Incandescent lamps, which are still widely used in show caves, have a broad emission spectrum that encompasses many wavelengths typically used by vegetation (IMPRESCIA 1983, RAJCZY & BUCZKO 1989).

Lowwattage lamps, 'coollights', fewer lamps, and timed illumination can help to resolve this problem. In many caves, however, managers feel compelled to clean formations of the accumulated lampenflora. Entire symposia have been devoted to this topic (HAZSLINSZKY 1985). SLAGMOLEN and SLAGMOLEN (1989) present detailed guidelines on the treatment and prevention of this 'maladie verte' which can so disfigure show caves.

2.4 Other effects

Cave and karst ecosystems have been disturbed in many ways in the course of development in addition to those mentioned above. Trail building disturbs the substrate and replaces it with a nearly impervious layer. This displaces biota and disrupts the hydrology within the cave. It also impacts the water quality; for example, it almost always increases the turbidity. Formations have been destroyed or marred by trail building, tunneling, the installation of lights, lifts, doors, stairs, and even dams. STITT (1977) has summarized many of these impacts and the resulting degradation of karst features.

One example that illustrates these types of effects, described by LYSENKO (1975), is the improperly placed and operated artificial entrance into the Koneprusy Caves in the Bohemian Karst of Czechoslovakia. The entrance causes great seasonal shifts in temperature (up to 10.2 ?C) and drops in relative humidity (as much as 30%). The total effect is to dry the formations thus damaging them. Near the entrance, however, condensation of unsaturated water has increased on the cave roof and walls, and corrosion is occurring.

The accumulated adverse environmental impacts on caves as a result of tourism is an aspect that makes show cave management quite different from that of most above ground resources. Therefore many of the management concepts that are easily applied on the surface cannot be used underground. They may, in fact, be detrimental.

3. Conclusions

A better understanding of the karst environment and a willingness to adapt to it prior to development could have avoided many of the problems discussed above. This is not entirely the fault of developers. These unique environments were less understood when many present karst parks and caves were first developed. Many private owners and government agencies do not have the financial resources to carry out the necessary studies. In recent decades some information has been gathered by various volunteer groups, such as caving clubs, as well as by some professional researchers. New laws have been enacted to protect caves and their biota which mandate the necessary studies and, often, remediate the problems. Unfortunately, remedial action, even if possible, can be expensive. High costs not only may prevent full remediation, but also may deter any from even being attempted. However, the price of inaction or inappropriate management may far surpass all of the costs of restoration of cave or karst resources.


The authors are grateful to B. Wheeler and P. Williams for their considerable input in the development of this article.


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Addresses of authors:

Dr. G N. Huppert                          Dr. P. Forti                             

Department of Geography and Earth         Italian Institute of Speleology          


The University of Wisconsin               Via Zarnboni 67                          

La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601                I  49127 Bologna                         

U.S.A.                                    Italy                                    


Dr. E. Burri                              Dr. A. A. Cigna                          

Department of Environmental Sciences      ENEA                                     

University of L'Aquila                    I  13040 Saluggia (VC)                   

Via Vetolo, Localita Coppito              Italy                                    

I  67100 L'Aquila                                                                   



Contents (CATENA Supplement #25)

Author                      Title                                         page     


P. W. Williams              Environmental Change and Human Impact on      1        

                            Karst Terrains:  An Introduction                       


S.-E. Lauritzen             Natural Environmental Change in Karst: The    21       

                            Quaternary Record                                      


D.I. Smith                  The Nature of Karst Aquifers and their        41       

                            Susceptibility to Pollution                            


I. Gams, J. Nicod, M.       Environmental Change and Human Impacts on     59       

Sauro, E. Julian & U.       the Mediterranean Karsts of France, Italy              

Anthony                     and the Dinaric Region                                 


Yuan Daoxian                Environmental Change and Human Impact on      99       

                            Karst in Southern China                                


M.J. Day                    Human Impacts on Caribbean and Central        109       

                            American Karst                                         


D. Jolson                   Environmental Change and Human Impact on      127      

                            Karst in Arid and SemiArid Australia                    


V. Andrajchouk & A.         Environmental Change and Human Impact on      147      

Klimchouk                   Karst in the Western Ukraine                          


H.S. Goldie                 Human Impact on Karst in the British Isles    161       


J. Gunn                     The Geomorphological Impacts of Limestone     187      



ST. Trudgill & R. Inkpen    Impact of Acid Rain on Karst Environments     199       


K. UrushibaraYoshino        Human Impact on Karst Soils: Japanese and     219      

                            Other Examples                                         


P. Hardwick & J. Gunn       The Impact of Agriculture on Limestone Caves  235       


G. Huppert. E. Burri, P.    Effects of Tourist Development on Caves and   251      

Forti & A. Cigna            Karst                                                  



Editor's Note: CATENA Supplement #25 should be available in your local university library. Upon reader request, and assuming that permission can be obtained, The Cave Conservationist would be pleased to publish additional papers from this publication. Additional copies of the publication are available from the publishers, but the cost is relatively high, $135 U.S.

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