The Newsletter of Cave Conservation and Management
Sellicks Hill Quarry, Hawaii Road Crisis, Sloans Valley Landfill, Arizona Bat Management, Cave Registers, New Melones Resource Plan, Providence Mountains MOU, Annual Meeting Minutes
Conservationist is the official publication of the Conservation and
Management Section of the National Speleological Society. Distribution is free
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to the Secretary. (A membership form for your convenience is included on page
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and Publisher: Rob Stitt
and Vice-Chairman: Jay R. Jorden,
at Large: Mel Park
TABLE OF CONTENTS
NOTES FROM THE PRESIDENT
BRIEF HISTORY OF 5A20 (
The ERDC Report is Released
THE PUNA "
THE SLOAN'S VALLEY CAVE SYSTEM
STATE BAT MANAGEMENT: THE
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN
LAVA RIVER CAVE
SECTION ANNUAL MEETING MINUTES
FINANCIAL STATEMENT FISCAL 1994
I've just returned from the 1995 National
Cave Management Symposium held in
The 1997 Symposium will be held in
This issue of The Cave Conservationist (and the next one, which will be mailed at the same time) contain a variety of information and articles collected over the last several months. Some of it is out of date by now, as issues tend to be fast moving and may be resolved by the time it makes it into print. For a more up-to-date window onto many of the fast moving issues, check out the Section Web page on the Internet. - Rob Stitt
A BRIEF HISTORY OF 5A20
Submitted by Heiko Maurer via the Internet.
Mine workings uncovered an opening in a
Cambrian dolomite quarry on private property in late 1991. The Cave Exploration
Group of South Australia (CEGSA) was called in, in September 1991, to map the
cave on condition of total secrecy. There were nine trips into the cave
totaling 40 hours, with the last being on
The quarry, with the approval of the
department of Mines and Energy South Australia (
The Quarry manager, Ron Delaney notified
Dr. Grant Gartrell who had been negotiating with the Quarry and
Fortunately, interstate experience was
available and Australian Speleological Federation (
A constant problem was that the Quarry presented their data as facts with little evidence, for example their drilling logs showed that they had to skew the cavers map some 20-25m in an easterly direction to fit the quarry floor and where they thought the Big Room was under it; any challenge to their facts always responded in hiding behind "commercial confidence" reasons. Being a medium sized commercial enterprise they would have political clout and would have lobbied the local council and government ministers, particularly the Minister for Mines and Energy who is perceived to have more influence than the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources. The company had previously provided hospitality tents at major sporting events such as the F1 Grand Prix, in which political leaders and other captains of industry mingled and were entertained.
To the surprise of the other parties, the
cavers gave a very professional and persuasive presentation, arguing for access
to the cave to ascertain the state of the cave. Thus no further quarrying
should be permitted in the area of the known cave. We argued that significant
parts of the cave would have survived the blast and physical inspection was the
only way to assess the state of the cave-if it was destroyed, worth preserving
or had tourism potential. The footage from the failed attempt to blow up
Speaking Tube Cave at
We pointed out that the quarry had been
operating quite safely for two years, by simply having the dump trucks drive
around the area of the Big Room, pointed to the conflict over responsibilities
The Inquiry report ,
by the independent assessor Messrs. Grimes and Moore, was entirely in the
cavers favor. The government ignored it. The cavers then put their case before
the State Heritage Commission. Its charter is to consider heritage values and
ignore any political consequences. It put an interim stop order on the area of
the quarry containing the cave. The Minister for Environment and Natural
Resources overruled his own Committee, canceled the Stop Order the next day,
and publicly denigrated cavers in the media for using the cave as their own
private playground for two years, stating that it would cost the government
some A$40m to close the quarry. The
The case was set down for hearing before Justice Bollen on 30-31 May. We received excellent legal representation and had set up a fighting fund to raise cash and personal guarantees of $40k. The arguments had changed from safety, tourism, heritage and economics to legal ones about whether the Minister had acted properly in overturning the advice of his own committee (to impose the Stop Order and investigate).
The Judge found against the cavers and an appeal was considered but eventually rejected on the grounds of expense and the lowered chance of success. Meanwhile the Shadow Ministers of the Labour (opposition) and Democrat parties had been kept informed and they raised questions in the state parliament, resulting in the matter being placed on the agenda of the Environment and Resource Development Committee (ERDC). In the meantime, quarrying continued and cavers kept a watchful eye on activities in the quarry.
The ERDC meets once per week and the case was listed for May/June 1995. The Committee heard submissions from all interested groups including cavers. The ERDC commenced hearings with a visit to the quarry in late May and then the following groups presented to the Committee:
31/5 Southern Quarries Pty Ltd. - Mr.
David Salkeld, General Manager
Professor David Stapledon - Consultant Geologist for the quarry 7/6 Dept. Environment & Natural Resources Australian Speleological Federation
14/6 SA Museum Environment, Legal Community Advisory Service (ELCAS) Conservation Council of SA
7/7 Dept. Mines & Energy SA Dept. Industrial Affairs Southern Quarries Pty Ltd- Mr. David Salkeld, General Manager Olliver Geological Services Pty Ltd - Consultant Geologists for the quarry
In total four submissions were made to
the committee, being three written submission and the presentation of 7th June.
The Sellicks Hill fighting fund, funded the attendance
of Dr. Armstrong Osborne,
Grant submitted a paper and spoke
regarding the cave discovery and exploration (Sep-Nov 91), all the negotiations
and discussions with Southern Quarries Pty Ltd and Mines and Energy SA up to
the blast (
Dr Osborne presented a case from the
scientific perspective, giving facts and details and drawing comparisons with
other caves in
If we recall the governments
press release of
Unfortunately, time ran against us (the committee started late) and Patrick was only given five minutes to sum up the case. He did this well, getting across the message that the Game Keeper should be separate to the Poacher. The Committee invited further written submission from the cavers.
The Sellicks Team then took their fingers
to the keyboard and produced a final written submission,
we included a paper written on "Tourism Assessment of Sellicks Hill Quarry
Cave," commissioned from Ernst Holland, Karst Manager, Jenolan Caves
Trust. We obtained copies of Cave & Karst Acts from the
The quality of the work and the
presenters for the
The Committee has finished the hearings on Sellicks and the latest news is that they will report to Parliament in late September. Once their report has been tabled in Parliament, the public will be able to obtain a copy, and the respective Ministers and Government departments will be given three months to respond.
The ERDC report will be the beginning of the next phase.
The ERDC Report is Released
A preliminary assessment, before close
study, of the ~150 page report hot off the presses: The Environment and
Resources Development Committee (ERDC) tabled its Report into
The Report basically follows the Grimes
The Committee has drawn on the Memorandum
of Understanding between the Nature Conservancy and the
THE PUNA "
In August 1995, Mr. Norman Olesen announced plans for a cut-rate "emergency radial to be built in 1996 through the heart of the Puna lava cave area, the world's greatest concentration of lava tube caves. Mr. Olesen is Deputy Director of the Hawaii County Planning Department, and a member of the staff of the office of the Mayor of Hawaii County.
Most of this "emergency road"
would consist of upgrading present unpaved or partly paved subdivision roads,
with a short length of new road to connect
techniques are planned to "smooth out" lava ridges containing
Kazumura and other caves, according to Mr. Olesen. The caves themselves are to
be "collapsed", unless declared "significant" by state
archaeologists. Among those which would be crossed by this "emergency
The announcement was made at the monthly meeting of the Board of Directors of the Hawaiian Acres Community Association, a large subdivision containing much of the cave area and home to numerous cavers and speleologists. In answer to a question, Mr. Olesen said he would "try to save the caves" but didn't "know anything about speleologists," and relied on archaeologists for information on caves.
Mr. Olesen further stated that an Environmental Assessment must be done before the road is built. To obtain information on the Environmental Assessment and how to provide input, write to:
Mr. Norman Olesen, Deputy Director
Publishers Note Added at press time (
Your letters to the County would still be of value.
From an article by Esther Schrader of the
That's what is shaping up for the world-famous Cacahuamilpa caverns, which a Canadian developer plans to turn into an enormous backdrop for a high-tech Magic Mountain gone wild - complete with exploding volcanoes and life-sized robotic dinosaurs identical to those in "Jurassic Park".
Desperate for money because of its
The developer who designed attractions at
Outside, Sendel plans an insectarium filled with 50,000 varieties of bugs, a planetarium, museum, hotel, and restaurant. Shuttle buses and gondola rides would take tens of thousands of visitors a year from parking lots to the towering caves.
Sendel has managed the caves since April 18 and has agreed to pay the Mexican government more than $500,000 a year for 50 years. While he is still seeking approval to build the theme park inside the two explored miles of the caves, Mexican officials say the bulk of the project could be approved by September.
Mexican authorities say they have no choice but to allow the development in order to save the caves, which are littered with garbage and in disrepair after years of government neglect. There are no medical services and no security inside the caverns. Dozens of vendors selling everything from tacos to replicas of the caves operate in a free-for-all marketplace outside.
Pedro Alvarez-Icaza, general director of
environmental regulation at
Sendel makes no apologies for his plans. He says he intends to restore the beauty of the caves while attracting more visitors than ever.
"Being an environmentalist myself, I don't want to see the caves destroyed any more than they have been, and they've been allowed to go downhill for years", Sendel said.
The article also quotes Jeanne Gurnee,
former president of the National Speleological Society, the foremost cave
exploration and protection organization in
THE SLOAN'S VALLEY CAVE
by Hilary Lambert Hopper
(July 15 1995; updated slightly
(In this story, there are
not a lot of thrilling underground cave pix. This is the cave saga in which
Roger Brucker regularly wears a suit and tie). The Sloan's Valley Cave System
(SVCS) is located at the rural southern end of
Parts of SVCS have been used by local
residents since the 19th century. During the 1960s-70s a 26-plus mile long cave
system, with over 16 entrances, was surveyed and mapped in an effort led by
Dave Beiter, Louis Simpson, Bill Walden, and other mainly Ohioan cavers from
the Dayton and Cincinnati areas. The exploration of Sloan's lower depths and
the potential for connection to the many adjacent cave systems was limited by
the backflooding of
During these years the Miami Valley
Grotto was established, and a fieldhouse was built on land leased from local
landowners. (In an aside, that land is presently for
sale). Sloan's is situated in and along valley edges in the Neuman limestone on
the western edge of the
Louis Simpson, Nick Crawford, biologist Tom Barr and many other local residents and cavers actively opposed this proposal, as it was feared that offsite surface runoff would flow toward or into the SV Railroad Entrance on one side of the landfill, and into the semi-explored, largely unmapped warren of karst features on the southeastern flank of the proposed landfill. These protests, via the public hearing process, were regarded as trivial by the Kentucky Division of Waste Management which, in agreement with the landfill company's environmental consultants, determined that the Pennington shale layer below the proposed landfill site would act as an excellent natural liner.
In '79 - '80 the Pulaski County Landfill
This was the situation in 1992 when
scientifically and regulatory- minded cavers joined forces with a local citizens activist group that had been complaining - to no avail
- about the
With these announcements, came the
windows of opportunity for citizens to have input, during the public hearing
process. Although this had been to no avail during the fight against the
Both local papers carried excerpts; and
at about that same time, the International Geographical Union's 1992 Karst
Problems field trip came to
This publicity got the state's environment secretary Philip Shepherd involved to the point that in October of '92 he sent a one-day army of water and waste division people into the field to be shown the situation, and to take a broad array of water and sediment samples, as dictated by - us! I led the field trip, and support was provided by Duke Hopper who prepared the itinerary and listed the sampling to be done, and by the Citizens who kept me from collapsing in fear of what I was doing. One of my favorite moments on the trip was when one of the state people first spotted the Crocketts' pond of goo and called back to the waste management manager in an excited voice, "George, wait 'til you get a look at this!" - and George remarking that he had never seen this on any of the maps - well of course not, it was off the permitted landfill property!
My other favorite memory of that trip is this: the SV Task Force had documented and mapped a series of leaks from the old underground mine works, all around the base of the landfill. These leaks were characterized by the red water of acid mine drainage. We were asking that these leaks be tested to determine if they contained landfill leachate - and if so, what was in the leachate. One of these leaks was on the southeastern flank of the landfill, up a snake-infested, logged-over slope, above a series of sediment ponds built by the coal company and landfill company (all of which drained into a swallet). My goal was to show this red leak to the experts and have them take samples.
As I jogged up through the trees, setting
a fast pace, I could hear a bulldozer rumbling and roaring in front of me. I
finally burst out of the woods to where I could get a good look at the leak we
were coming to sample. And what did I see but a bulldozer, poised one minute
from obliterating the red leak and its trail downslope toward ponds, swallet,
I give you these memories not as foolish
anecdotes or to be self-aggrandizing, but because they each perfectly exemplify
the attitude and actions of the
By December of 1992, lab results of the sediment and water samples, and a re-test, indicated that several of the red leaks contained organic chemicals, some worse than others, in addition to what you might call the "natural" acid mine drainage ingredients. A leak (called a "spring" and used by locals for water) next to the landfill's entrance, right next to several homes, repeatedly contained vinyl chloride, which according to some laws is a shut- 'em-down carcinogen. The Crockett's goo pond was officially - but only verbally - characterized as "hazardous waste" that would have to be removed and taken to a permitted disposal site.
Also by the end of '92 Duke Hopper, with
Joe Morgan's and my field assistance and Jim Currens' lab work, had conducted a
short, sharp dye-trace that physically tied the landfill's runoff to the
Crockett's goo pond, and to the underground stream within the Railroad Entrance
of the Sloan's Valley CS (also, in early '92, caver Mark Turner was attempting
to dye-trace the swallet on the southeast side of the landfill). During 1993,
in an effort manned most steadily by Wayne Hansen, the SVCTF in cooperation
with the MVG installed John Wilson's fabulous cave registers in six of Sloan's
most popular entrances, to begin to get a handle on Sloan's
caver/spelunker/church and scout trip visitors. Sloan's is a major cave system,
a natural regional treasure, and deserves respect and research. It can be a
showpiece of realism-based conservation. To assist us, Gina Turner, ET Davis
and other cavers came up from
Here is what we took into that hearing: A
performance by Roger Brucker in which he demonstrated with a plate, peg-board,
sponge, tube, and bucket, what happened to the leachate as it left the landfill
property and headed for
Secondly, Duke Hopper had prepared a map - three feet by six feet - in which he mapped the original landfill, the proposed expansion, the cave system, and all of the known surrounding caves and karst features, and the surface and groundwater flow. This was big enough to communicate to an audience, with a copy for the Division of Waste Management. I presented this map along with letters from the country's karst experts - and this is where the wonderful nature of the karst research and conservation community comes into this story.
I asked for help via fax, and I got it:
letters to the KY Division of Waste Management from - Jeanne Gurnee, then-
Their message was simple: this is not the
right place to put a landfill, even less to put a major new landfill, and here
is the literature and research to back us up. I read each of these letters,
slowly and carefully, and a man in the audience later said he could have
"hugged me" for those letters and a woman told me, "I could have
listened to those letters all night." This is the power of the
scientifically-oriented caving community. The evening was rounded out by a
several-hour presentation by the Citizens on the regulations and laws that had
been broken, ignored, and sidestepped. The meeting went on until . That was April of '94. In May, these
things happened: *The Division of Waste Management sent the landfill company a
list of 26 major deficiencies in their expansion application. These included
such things as "please put the contours on your map" and "you
are required to do an extensive and comprehensive dye-trace study of the
site." The deficiencies and their remedies were serious, big-ticket items.
I am not here to ask why they were never brought up before. They were finally
being brought up. *The original
To date in 1995 we have seen the landfill
company struggling to move forward, while their once-excellent position in the
KY landfill game slips away from them. Temporarily they have become a transfer
station, shipping local garbage to a landfill in an adjoining county. They are
supposed to cap the original
The SVCTF, in cooperation with many
individuals and groups, has at least temporarily achieved its short-term goals
and is now hoping to be able to turn to long-term realism-based conservation of
the SVCS. However the
STATE BAT MANAGEMENT:
This article by Debra C. Noel is reprinted with permission from Bat Conservation International (BCI). **
What happens when a state wildlife management agency wins the lottery? For starters, money to fund research and conservation programs is suddenly available, people learn more, and animals benefit. To make sound decisions about the conservation and recovery of wildlife, a management agency must have enough information about an animal or group of animals. In an ideal world, for example, we would know where all important bat roosts are located, what species uses a roost, how many bats use it, when they use it, and what the population trend is.
But the reality for bats is far from this perfect world. The reasons are many; an important one is that "glamour" species like bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and black-footed ferrets have long taken precedence over animals like bats, which often don't inspire the same kind of public sympathy or interest. And because interest in the plight of bats has been comparatively low-on both a public and an official level-funding and adequate personnel with the necessary expertise have also been lacking.
Before 1990, management of
Then in 1990, wildlife management in
Suddenly, the Game and Fish Department had to plan for the best use of this money. A committee of broad thinkers was assigned the task of developing a department-wide plan. One of the first things they did was to set aside money to fund private contracts for wildlife inventory, research, urban habitats, and education. Luckily, they also recognized that bats had long been ignored, and set aside annual funds for their management as well. The Arizona Game and Fish Department's Bat Management Program was officially born.
The program is ambitious. Designed to
Our first job was to learn about the life history of bats, how to identify different species, and how to conduct surveys to assess their presence and numbers. We started by talking to bat specialists, attending bat study workshops, and learning how to enter mines and caves safely. We absorbed every bit of information we could get our hands on. By the winter of 1992, with a lot of help from many people, we were-more or less-ready to go.
The next task was to set priorities for
conducting surveys. Mines and caves appeared to be the most critical place to
start because of bat sensitivity to human disturbance and because of the
increased number of abandoned mines being closed in
We began our first surveys of abandoned
mines on public land along the
Because of the time of year, we expected
to find active winter colonies of leaf-nosed bats and temporarily vacant nursery
roosts for a number of other species. We used the accumulation of guano as
evidence that an empty mine might accommodate a nursery colony during the
summer; the quantity of guano present indicated how great the use might be.
From November until March the following year Tim and Shawn surveyed 514 mines
along the river. Forty-two percent showed some evidence of bat use, and 14
percent of these showed significant use. Two of the roosts contained
Between April and September 1993, we
surveyed an additional 711 mines on public land managed by the Bureau of Land
During that first summer, we also
conducted a survey on the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. We discovered five
significant bat roosts, one of which contained 200
That summer we also found a mine that
contained a nursery roost of about 350 Townsend's big-eared bats (Plecotus
townsendii)-the largest such roost known for this species in
Last year, the second summer, we focused
on mines within the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge along the
This winter, we conducted a similar
survey in the
Another survey conducted in response to
proposed mine closures resulted in discovering a transitory roost of about
20,000 lesser long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris curasoae), an endangered species.
These stopover roosts allow the bats to replenish their energy, and prepare for
the next leg of their journey south to
Other protective measures also resulted
from last year's work. At a cave owned by the Arizona State Land Department,
two independent bat specialists contracted by the Arizona Game and Fish
Department began a long-term survey of the cave's bat populations. For the past
40 to 50 years, the cave has been a very popular site for recreational
spelunkers. It is also home to a summer nursery colony of Townsend's big-eared
bats and a winter colony of
The State Land Department was also
concerned about the liability brought on by increased recreational use. We
recommended installing bat gates on all three entrances to the cave to reduce
liability and to protect the bats. The Department agreed, and last November,
heavy-duty bat gates were installed on all three entrances to the cave. We are
now developing a management plan for the cave with the help of three
A major benefit of the Heritage monies is
a greatly expanded capacity to collect data. In addition to surveying caves and
mines, we have also been inspecting artificial structures for possible bat use,
finding colonies beneath bridges, in the crevices of dams, and in buildings.
Bats roosted in half of the 32 bridges thus far inspected, nine of which harbor
significant roosts. Surveying just two dams resulted in locating a roost of
By analyzing the data collected from all of these projects, we have discovered some important things about bats in our state. Over the last two years we have completed surveys at 1,895 mines and caves. Overall, 32 percent show some evidence of bat use, and 8 percent show use we consider significant. In geothermal areas, the percentage of bat use is much greater, making these sites even more critical to bats. Heritage has now funded bat surveys in 11 areas of the state, with an additional four pending approval.
One of these Heritage-funded projects was the extremely successful forest bat survey, which has been conducted for the last two years. This cooperative project by the Department, the U.S. Forest Service, and BCI uses radiotelemetry technology to follow bats to their roosts. Using this technique has resulted in locating many tree roosts for bat species we previously knew nothing about. Some of what we learned the first year was groundbreaking. BCI member volunteers returned to this project last year and are enthusiastic about helping for as long as they are needed. In return, the Forest Service is receiving valuable data about bats; the information is having a direct effect on forest management practices such as logging, snag removal, and controlled burns.
Conducting surveys and collecting data helps promote sound bat management. But education increases the public's awareness and understanding of these animals, and their awareness in turn supports further conservation efforts. Realizing this, we have also been extremely involved in bat education, both for the public and for biologists.
During the summer of 1993, we focused on bats in an issue of the Department's monthly magazine, Wildlife Views. In conjunction with the Department's Education Branch, we also published a poster featuring the state's bats. Using BCI photos, the poster includes a brief natural history summary on the back of each photo, so that teachers can also use them as flash cards. The response to both these publications has been enthusiastic. We have received many positive comments from students, teachers, biologists, and the general public.
We have also cosponsored several bat
study training workshops, directed toward Department and other agency
biologists, teachers, and the general public. Some of these workshops have been
presented in cooperation with the
The citizens' initiative that made the
Heritage program a reality has been the single most important catalyst in
improving wildlife management in
But adequate funding alone is not the
**For more information about bats, BATS
magazine, or membership in BCI, please write or call Bat Conservation International,
A sidebar is headed
"How to Help Bat Management in Your Own State." (A number of states
do have checkoff programs tied into income-tax reporting, allowing taxpayers to
earmark a portion of the refund due for various purposes including non-game
wildlife programs. The
The Wildlife Diversity
Funding Initiative would raise funds for state non-game programs by establishing a user fee in the form
of a modest surcharge on outdoor recreational equipment such as binoculars,
bird guides, and camping gear. Wildlife enthusiasts in the
You can help this Initiative by (1) letting outdoor recreational equipment companies know that you favor a modest surcharge on equipment to fund such a program; (2) letting the owner of the store where you buy your equipment know, or attaching a supportive note to your catalog orders; (3) writing a letter to the editor of any conservation or outdoor recreation magazine voicing your support for a dedicated user fee for conservation; and (4) contacting your state fish and wildlife agency and becoming involved in your own state's coalition to build support for this solution to an urgent national conservation problem.
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH
This article by Daniel
Snyder in the Mother Lode Grotto's summer 1995 Valley Caver addresses that
topic. Graphs and some specific details have been omitted. For
the full text write to
Here is the analysis of
Having the good fortune
to possess complete cave register data for the period in question, we should be
able to demonstrate whether or not the access restrictions imposed since
A register has been
Unfortunately, this form
is seldom fully completed by visitors to our small caves and, as a consequence,
this report represents about the limit of what can be done with the data
gleaned from them. The new booklet, designed by the author and Martin Haye, is
an experimental modification of the
Our ability to use the
Rippled Cave register information to judge how well the road gate is doing its
job rests on the assumption that the gate, fencing, and "No
trespassing" signs have not significantly affected visitors' inclination
to sign the register. After all, some may now fear that the register will be
used as a tool to prosecute trespassers, or to censure grotto members who have
long been accustomed to taking private trips to
Furthermore, several groups listed in the Rippled register did not record the number of individuals present, and still other groups of which I have personal knowledge (since, to my shame, I was in two of them) are not represented at all. Where I know of an unrecorded trip and the persons on it, I've supplemented the register, but some will inevitably have slipped through the cracks. For this reason, the visitation figures must be regarded as minimum numbers.
In March of 1993, while
As a result of lengthy
negotiations conducted on behalf of the
After these actions had been taken, the neighbors, who would now know which visitors were authorized and which were not, could then contact local law enforcement if problems arose. These arrangements have reportedly proven satisfactory.
The immediate question to be asked of the register data, then, is "How many visitors did Rippled Creek receive per year before access restrictions and how many after?" I've attempted to show this graphically in a bar graph for 1992, 1993, 1994, and the first half of this year. Visitation in 1994, the year following implementation of access restrictions, was only 60% of the 1993 level and 53% of the 1992 level. If visitation during the second half of 1995 equals that during the first half, visitation will have further declined to 86% of the 1994, 52% of the 1993 level, and 45% of the 1992 level. Based on this information, the access restrictions appear to be a smashing success.
But why did visitation
ever reach the levels it did in the 1990s? It boggles the mind to consider that
between 1973 and 1992, the annual number of visitors to
Certainly the cave's size
and accessibility have made it a popular cave for
However, by far the
largest boom has been among organizations other than
These trips were
coordinated by a former
aside from the impact over 200 visitors a year must have had on
Another analysis was made
by months in an attempt to flush out any seasonal pattern that might exist. We
can see that in 1973 visitation was sporadic and followed no detectable
pattern. While no pattern can definitely be stated to exist in the later years
for which we have data, it is interesting to note that the heaviest visitation
in 1992 and 1993 occurred in late winter and during the summer, while after
implementation of access restrictions, summer visitation declined dramatically
while winter has remained busy. This is largely a result of the near-cessation
of visitation by the Leoni Meadows Camp and other non-
Aside from straining relations
with the neighbors, the unrestricted access which formerly prevailed at
After installation of the road gate, etc., only 27% of the 174 visitors for whom experience is known are recorded as having been on one-four wild cave trips. Since the experience of 80% of visitors during this period is known, the proportion of novices is probably accurate. The proportion of visitors who have bee on 50 or more wild cave trips has increased from 24% to 41%.
Summary and Conclusions
Rippled Cave register data from 1992 through the present show a significant in visitation following the implementation of access restrictions, mostly as a result of the near elimination of use by a foothill family camp.
This reduction is
especially significant when one considers that
Our efforts to reduce visitation at Rippled have no doubt succeeded in large part due to the proximity of the neighbors. Similar efforts by unknown parties recently to gate the access road to the Crystal-Cosumnes Cave property (locally popular not only for the cave but also for gold panning, fishing, camping, etc.) have resulted in the gate's being cut off by a torch within a year of its installation, even though the only real inconvenience it had caused was a walk of a hundred yards to reach the river. That attempt probably failed due to the absence of neighbors to help enforce it. We may guess that the Rippled road gate, fencing, and signs would not have succeeded if the cave were in a remote, uninhabited location. Yet, the mere presence of the neighbors without the gate etc. apparently did not deter visitation. I suppose the equation here is
In addition to satisfying
the concerns of the neighbors, the successful reduction of visitation to
OUTREACH BASED ON REGISTER
This is an attempt to
recall briefly the specifics of the register program carried out in the
Virginia Region several years ago before computerization was widespread and
before the advent of the
Some statistical studies
based on the register data were carried out and reported on by John Wilson of
Periodically, when 200+
new names accumulated, bulk rate letters were sent out with information about
To the extent that cave
visitors provide names and addresses in the current registers, a membership
recruiting program of the type described above is still possible. The evidence
is that the inquiry cards addressed to
Ralph Squire wrote
Dear Fellow Caver,
In July 1993 I was
appointed to the New Melones Ad Hoc Work Group to help advise
the Bureau of Reclamation on the development of a new Resource Management Plan
(RMP) for New Melones. They considered me to be the representative of the
cavers since I had chaired the New Melones Task Force,
I feel that I have been
very successful with input on cave management. I am enclosing copies of the
Draft Cave Resources Element. The original Cave Management Plan mentioned is
the one developed by the
The bottom line on the entire RMP is that the Federal Government is out of money to do much of anything to carry out its suggestions. In fact, rumor has it that the Bureau of Reclamation may even be gone before long. So they are very anxious to farm out anything they can. Therefore, the RMP suggests "volunteerism" as the answer. Scrap the bureaucracy and turn the power back to the people.
As a result, a new organization, formally sanctioned by the Bureau, has been created called New Melones Partners. It currently has a 6-member Steering Committee (of which I am a member), which will approve or disapprove any formal proposals by individuals, companies, and/or non-profit organizations, to manage any resources mentioned in the RMP. I promised the others that I would come up with a management proposal for caves.
I also enclose a copy of my suggested proposal. It is a paraphrase of the Cave Resources Element, except that it basically says that we cavers will take care of the management ourselves. This is a little like leaving the fox in charge of the hen house, but from a responsible position. Are we up to the task? What is your personal response to the idea?
Most cavers I've talked to so far seem to like the idea, and feel that gating should be minimal. Dixie Pearson and I see eye to eye on bat protection. John Gardner says that the actual gating of any caves we can unanimously agree upon can be done-no sweat.
I have enclosed a copy of the Proposal that I will submit to our Steering Committee for approval on the 12th. Please look it over and let me know immediately if you have serious problems with it, or suggested changes. Since your name has been suggested as a possible appointee, would you be willing to serve, if asked? We would probably meet at my place on occasional Saturdays to begin and then function by phone and/or mail as much as possible. . . .
To: New Melones Partners Steering Committee
From: Ralph Squire (
I propose to establish a
Cave Management Committee to evaluate issues regarding access and cave
management, and to assume responsibility for the management of the caves at New
Melones. This committee will have representatives from the scientific
disciplines relevant to the caves and will also represent the grottos of the
It is anticipated that the committee will consist of about 12 people, plus a representative of the Bureau of Reclamation.
Based on the criteria set forth in the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act, the committee will do the following:
A. Prepare a Revised Cave Management Plan to:
a) Address future
expected operational reservoir levels,
b) Reflect current cave conditions;
c) Include new information on bat resources, and
d) Address management of caves located in the future.
B. Begin implementation of the Revised Cave Management Plan by:
1. Constructing and installing properly designed gates on those caves that are recommended for controlled entry.
2. Developing a controlled entry program based on a permit system. Permits will specify guidelines for safety of visitors and protection of resources.
3. Providing periodic patrolling and monitoring of gated caves.
4. Monitoring cave registers in all accessible caves.
5. Approving or disapproving any applications for scientific Study Projects, including exploratory excavation for new cave entrances.
6. Making an annual evaluation of the success of the gating and permit system.
7. Reviewing any surface developments that could affect cave resources.
8. Maintaining and updating a cave database.
9. Cooperation with any cave search and rescue operations.
development of public information materials for display at a
11. Reporting progress occasionally to the New Melones Partners Steering Committee.
. . . . . New
Protect significant caves in a manner consistent with the 1988 Federal Cave Resources Protection Act by preparing and implementing a revised Cave Management Plan that addresses access control, gating, data recovery, monitoring and stabilization of caves.
The caves located in the limestone and
marble Calaveras Formation along the
The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act
of 1988 (P.L. 100-69, 43
* Establish a new Cave Committee to evaluate issues regarding cave access and cave management.
Re-establish the Cave Committee with representatives from the National Speleological Society; members of the scientific community representing the disciplines of cave ecology, bat biology, and archeology; members of local spelunking organizations; and Reclamation resource management staff.
Cave Committee shall nominate a list of significant caves and/or a special management area based on the criteria set forth in the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act (Part B sec. 37.11 (c)).
Protection and management of significant caves will be specified in the revised Cave Management Plan (see below).
*Prepare a revised Cave Management Plan to address future expected operational reservoir levels to reflect current cave conditions, to include new information on bat resources, and to comply with provisions of the 1988 Federal Cave Resources Protection Act.
Review previously prepared cave management plans and selectively revise management approaches for incorporation into the new revised plan in order to comply with new policies and requirements
Re-evaluate for closure, caves previously assumed to be inundated, but which are located in the fluctuation zone above reservoir elevation of 1,000 foot, in order to ensure that sensitive resources are protected and safety hazards prevented during periods of exposure.
Review and revise recommendations for controlled cave access based on the current conditions of caves.
In cooperation with speleological groups, compile information and/or conduct studies to identify caves that serve as critical bat roosts either as summer nursery colonies or winter hibernation roosts particularly for Townsend's big-eared bat and the pallid bat.
Specify methods for gating critical caves in a manner to prevent human access but to allow free access of cave organisms and air flow. Cave opening(s) must not be enlarged or significantly modified during installation of gate(s) since these changes could significantly modify cave microclimate. Gate should be constructed according to design recommendations by the USFWS which specify the use of angle iron (or other vandal-resistant materials) arranged in a grid that leaves openings six inches by twenty-four inches wide.
*Consistent with the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act, begin implementation of the revised Cave Management Plan as soon as possible, with priority given to protection of the most sensitive cave resources first.
Prohibit unauthorized entry into caves designated for protection. Proceed to gate priority sensitive caves in a manner that will not adversely affect cave organisms or cave microclimate. Post signs at cave gates to inform the public of the need to protect sensitive resources.
Provide periodic patrolling of gated caves to monitor for trespass or vandalism. Regular inspection and repair of cave gates will be necessary to protect cave resources.
Strongly discourage the dissemination of information concerning the location and characteristics of sensitive caves as required under the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act.
*Develop a controlled entry program for sensitive and/or hazardous caves based on a permit system.. Caves eligible for entry by permit would include those recommended for gating or limited entry in the revised Cave Management Plan. The Cave Committee will establish criteria for issuance of cave entry permits that will consider the level of sensitivity and/or hazard of the cave; the experience and qualifications of the applicant; and the purpose and need for cave entry. Permitees will be required to release Reclamation from liability and from the need to take extraordinary measures during search and rescue services. Cave entry permits will specify guidelines for permittee safety and protection of resources including, but not limited to, prohibiting removal of materials, rocks, life forms, formations and artifacts from caves, requiring removal of any materials brought into caves upon exiting, prohibiting fires or camping within caves, and requiring that all cave gates be relocked upon exiting.
Requests for scientific collection of cave resources will be allowed by permit only, consistent with provisions of the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act, and upon approval of the members of the Cave Committee who will evaluate applications for scientific study of gated caves.
Issue permits for archeological studies under the Archeological Resources Protection Act and under requirements of the Native American Graves Protection Act
Allow exploration for new cave entrances and passages by permit only.
Public access will be limited to only those caves selected as suitable for general visitor use under the revised Cave Management Plan. Provide adequate sanitation and garbage services at caves open for public visitation.
Develop public information materials for
display at the
Install cave registers in all accessible caves to monitor level of cave use and to discourage graffiti. Design any trail system that would provide access to caves open for general visitor use to be routed away from protected caves.
*Evaluate and monitor the success of cave gating program and entry permit program in achieving protection goals.
Cave Committee shall conduct an annual review of the level of compliance with gating and permit programs and make recommendations for modification or improvement.
*Maintain and update the cave inventory (
Enter any new cave finds into the inventory database and forward information to the Cave Committee for evaluation and determination of the appropriate level of access and protection.
*Prevent interference with natural processes that are necessary to form new caves and/or maintain existing cave structures and formations in the vicinity of caves located above gross pool in particular, prevent diversion of flow or change in the rate of groundwater recharge resulting from existing or proposed development that may adversely affect cave systems.
Prohibit construction of facilities, such as parking lots, on top of cave system that would disrupt groundwater recharge and flow.
*Coordinate cave search and rescue operations with other federal agencies, the National Speleological Society, state, county agencies and local groups.
(Source, June 1995 newsletter, San
Francisco Bay Chapter,
Scott Schmitz, August 1995 Explorer
It was agreed the Providence Mountains State Recreation Area has benefited from the volunteer efforts of grotto members in the past. However, there has been discontent within the grotto towards the park because after gating projects at Winding Stair, the DPR began charging members $20 entrance fees and initiated gear requirements many resented as overkill. The present DPR management has come to recognize in this era of shrinking budgets that the grotto has saved the park thousands of dollars by installing the gate for free. Outgoing SP Ranger John Pelonio was of the opinion the entrance fee to Winding Stair would be waived for grotto members provided access was requested in advance. This policy statement will be included in the MOU.
The Memorandum of
Understanding is an attempt to formalize the relationship between the grotto
and the Providence Mountains
It will serve as a guide
for future rangers at the park who are not aware of the grotto's activities. Part
of the problem the grotto has had in the past is the high turnover rate of
personnel at the Park. John Pelonio, who was very favorable towards the grotto,
was on the job at Mitchell's Caverns for only eighteen months before he was
The meeting produced a
list of future projects for the grotto in the
A photo monitoring project was suggested for Cave of the Winding Stair and Mitchell's Caverns to help the DPR determine the effects of visitation to these caves. This project would be expanded to other caves if warranted. And registers would be placed in the more heavily visited caves as part of the DPR effort to monitor cave use.
A restoration project
will be held next June in El Pakiva Cave to remove debris from the excavation
of the tunnel from the floor of the Queen's Chamber. When the connection
between El Pakiva and
A restoration projection is possible in Winding Stair as well. Heavy visitation and rescue practices has impacted the cave, and areas in need of cleaning or repair need to be identified. The grotto suggested the railroad ties in the Office Room be removed and alternate, more natural rigging points, possibly using redirects, be developed for the first drop. The stability of the railroad ties as a rigging point and the impact of the chemically treated wood on the cave environment are in question.
A cave gating project was
requested by the DPR for
The grotto can also help in developing displays of cave and bat conservation. The grotto can also design and/or print brochures and develop interpretive videos on these subjects. A joint project with Bat Conservation International was suggested.
The present park policy
is that all caves and mines in the park are closed to the public without a
permit. Caving groups are offered free access to all caves without a fee as
long as access was requested in writing in advance and a brief trip report
including observations on the cave's condition, biota, and other notable
phenomena was submitted at the end of the trip. The policy for non-grotto
visitation to Cave of the Winding Stair is a 1:1 ration of people with previous
experience in the cave and newcomers. The park issues a permit and liability
waiver but will not give out the location of the cave. The DPR will no longer
inspect or require gear (for liability reasons) but will interview the party as
to their caving experience. The DPR would like to steer interested non-cavers
towards the grotto and would like the grotto to supply brochures and assign
contacts for these people. (We will not be publishing Margie Nelson's phone
number in any outdoor magazines.) A cave trustee program similar to the one in
The grotto has offered to meet with the new head Rangers when they are hired and take them through the more sensitive caves of the region and brief them on the status of grotto projects past, present, and future. We need to make them aware of the resource they have in the grotto and show them we are more of a help than a hindrance to their management policies. It is hoped a place can be organized to contain all reports and materials the grotto has sent to the Providence Mountains RA and a replica of the depository arranged in the grotto library so materials donated will not in the future disappear with the change of administration.
I hope this will begin
the start of a closer relationship with park personnel that will last for years
to come, and the grotto should look forward to helping preserve the cave
resources of the
Thanks again to Cynthia Walck, DPR Resource Ecologist, for helping to make the planned MOU possible.
Taken from article by
Over the weekend of
Steve Petruniak describes the project assigned to his group as calling for pulling out old wood boards and debris over a two-mile length wearing wetsuits. Other volunteers put these water-logged boards, which sometimes weighed four to five times more than originally because of the water, into haul bags and carried them out on their backs another two miles.
These boards, full of nails and creosote, had to be removed because they leach into the water, affecting and harming the cave environment. One piece of pipe over forty feet long, winding like a snake under the surface in a U-shape, took several people just to get it out of the water. A pipe cutter was then used to cut it into three pieces so it could be hauled out.
At least $4000 to $8000 worth of labor was donated to the Park Service over the weekend clean-up. These projects sometimes are in areas where Park Service personnel just can't go or require specialized work, such as going down pits using vertical techniques, or wetsuit work.
During the weekend Steve
noticed along some of the trails numerous dust bunnies and lint balls.
The constant job of counteracting the past abuses of the cave, protecting the various endangered cave-dwelling species, and reducing damage from modern-day use, is a continual battle for the Park Service. It has a dual mandate to provide for the visitors' enjoyment of the cave and at the same time to protect the fragile resource.
Some of the
Thousands of people have
gone some 174 steps down to the entrance platform of the cave but could venture
no further. Before 1943, tourists to
Based on feature in Spring 1995 newsletter of American Farmland Trust
This feature describes
modifications made by farmer L.K. in his approach to farming. He'd found
conventional farming in his sinkhole-prone, highly erodible landscape in
So he went to a new approach revolving around moldboard plowing. He now advocates no-till farming and integrated crop management. These both save him money and protect the soil. Now, instead of "plowing the heck out of the farm and watching the dirt wash away," all the soil is at a stable soil environment and without expensive structures. Various practices he adopted made him eligible for a new, conservation-oriented federal farm program, the Water Quality Incentive Program. This rewards farmers for adopting measures to protect groundwater and nearby streams and rivers from agricultural nonpoint source pollution. Programs like this that provide incentives for environmental protection will preserve farmland and farmers better than the price support programs that encourage high yields and intensive farming practices.
Cave owners who are also
farmers may be interested in the American Farmland Trust, 1920 N Street N. W.
LAVA RIVER CAVE
(Source, July 1995 Oregon Grotto Speleograph)
The old wooden cave gate
on the upper end of
The new gate will provide
protection to a portion of the cave used by bats for hibernating. According to
This is not the only
The West Virginia Chapter of The Nature Conservancy reports (spring 1995 newsletter) that WV's governor has signed into law the Conservation and Preservation Easements Act. This makes it possible for environmentally significant land to be protected from harmful development, without removing title to the land from the owner. At the same time the owner should realize tax savings on the portion of the property subject to the easement.
In other words, both
conservation and landowners benefit. A conservation easement is a legal
agreement by which a landowner voluntarily restricts or limits the type and
amount of development that may take place on his or her property. The holder of
the easement could be the government or any non-profit groups which meet
certain requirements (including The Nature Conservancy). Pre-existing law did
allow such easements but the process was much more complicated and necessitated
severing ownership of at least a small portion of the landowner's property.
The Nature Conservancy
has jumped into cyberspace on America Online. Call
MINUTES of the
1. Minutes of the
previous meeting held
2. Finances A
financial report as of
3. Newsletter Jay Jorden as editor reported that with the help of Rob Stitt as publisher we have brought out two newsletters this year. Things are going well; we have found good relevant material. Jay added that submissions for the newsletter are welcome; they can be sent by email as well as the other possible methods of transmittal.
Copies of the newsletter
have been placed on the World Wide Web. This does raise questions about
copyright and impact upon our membership. Some of our material has come from
As to the membership question, we have chosen to put our newsletter on the Web because of a conviction that it is important to get out to a wider audience information on cave conservation and management. This does remove a possible incentive to become a dues paying member of the Section.
We need to monitor developments as they affect the Section during coming months and take action if it seems necessary.
A question was raised about the decision last year to send copies of our newsletters on a complimentary basis to federal agencies, using the mailing list assembled by the Conservation and Management Symposium Steering Committee. This use of this list has been cleared. It is not clear how many of the recipients find its content worthwhile to them. It was decided to continue this circulation to any who respond positively to an enclosed return card asking us to continue the mailing. Others will be dropped. Some state agencies may be added.
Some doubt was expressed
as to the level of commitment on the part of the
It was also noted that
conservation should be taken into account in, for instance, the Photography
Section, Cave Diving, and NCRC. Conservation should be a component of all the
activities of our
Bill Halliday volunteered to write all of this up in a guest editorial that would be submitted to the News.
5. Conservation Award.
Three nominations were received this year for the Section award for achievement
in the field of conservation/management. The Richmond Area Speleological
Society was chosen as award recipient. We established this Section award when
the Board of Governors in a revision of the Society awards program saw fit to
establish an award in conservation that recognizes individual rather than group
effort. We believe that group effort is worthy of being recognized at the
6. Implementation of
7. Elections The usual process of approving reelection of the current officers was quickly carried out, and these continue for 1995-1996:
President Robert R. Stitt (also publisher)
Vice President Jay Jorden (also editor)
Secretary Treasurer Evelyn Bradshaw (also membership and circulation)
Directors at large George
8. Book on Underground
Wilderness This source book was planned by the
10. Cave Formations Marketed It was called to our attention that displays in this country originating with
Tsim Sha Tsui,
People's Republic of
have included formations out of caves. This is an activity we prohibit and discourage in our country. It was agreed that we should look for avenues, such as our contacts with Chinese cavers and the World Wide Web, to educate the Chinese government, merchants, and people on the reasons why such displays should not occur. Perhaps (as with whaling?) international law prohibiting the mining and sale of speleothems should be sought.
11. Cave Locations on
Maps It was reported that the Bureau of Land
12. Bat Brochure Bill Halliday moved we continue the distribution of the bat brochure. This was seconded and passed.
Balance brought forward
Income from dues 480.00
Miscellaneous income (sale lit) 56.54
Total income 536.54
Expenses for newsletter 481.00
Other expenses (none)
Total Expenditures 481.00
Brought forward 1383.06
Total income 65.00
Other (misc postage) 7.02
Total expenditures 255.84
Balance on hand
Amount of balance
encumbered by dues paid in advance @ $5.00/year
Expiral Amount Encumbered
Total encumbered 337.50
Evelyn W. Bradshaw, Secretary-Treasurer
If you are not already a
member of the Conservation and Management Section of the National Speleological
Society, you are invited to join. Dues are $5.00 a year, payable to the
Yes, I would like to join the Conservation/Management Section. Here are my dues in the amount of $________ (dues of $5/year may be prepaid for up to three years).
this form with check/money order to the Secretary-Treasurer:
NATIONAL SPELEOLOGICAL SOCIETY