NSS Conservation Task Forces
Dave Jagnow,
NSS Conservation Task Force Coordinator

NSS Conservation Task Forces (CTFs) remained active in the year 2000. A CTF is a group of NSS cavers and others who join together to work on threats to caves and karst areas. These problem areas may be the proposed destruction of a particular cave, a region under threat from development, or ongoing cooperative management with an agency. CTFs resolve problems and then disband, or may continue as a group, if the condition warrants monitoring over the long term.

CTFs operate in all parts of the country, and with all degrees of formality. If you would like to form a CTF, the contact person and most of the members should be NSS members, and you should agree to work toward the same goals as the NSS. CTFs must submit quarterly reports, including a year- end report to the NSS in order to be listed in the Member's Manual.

New hotspots emerged this year in the Spencer Mountain Cave System of East Central Tennessee with the reactivation of the Cumberland Plateau CTF as cavers banded together to investigate a new sewage facility that threatened the caves and karst of the area. Legal and other help from the NSS was provided to document this particular piece of public works.

Central Oregon CTF is leading the fight in the Deschutes National Forest over an Environmental Assessment pitting the needs of the caves and their archeological resources with the desires of the rock climbing community who have been petitioning the National Forest to keep the Road 18 Bend area caves open to climbing and bolting. Members of the COCTF were interviewed in an Associated Press story published August 20. This issue is still unresolved, with a revised Road 18 Caves Environmental Assessment due in early 2001.

Germany Valley CTF contact Barry Chute and associates are monitoring the threat from limestone mining at Hellhole, a very well known and extensive West Virginia cave that is home to approximately one-quarter of the world's population of Virginia Big Eared Bats.

Klamath Mountains CTF reports little progress with their dealings in the Klamath National Forest karst. Steve Knutson, spokesman for KMCTF, says the MOU with Klamath NF is in deep trouble, and perhaps the NSS needs to take more action to persuade the agencies KMCTF works with to take responsiblities established under the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act more seriously. He also questions some of the cave management being done by the National Park Service at Oregon Caves National Monument, especially the effects of construction and volunteer work on the paleontological resources of the cave. Additionally, he expresses concern for cave management on the Shasta Trinity National Forest in northern California. This cave had been rescued from onyx miners by a grotto that is now defunct. (This area used to be of concern to the Shascade CTF, as well.) Steve reports rock climber bolting going on in both Klamath and Shasta Trinity National Forests.

Hillary Lambert Hopper of the Sloans Valley CTF sent a lengthy report on the activities of Ken Alwin, Dave Beiter, Roger Brucker, John Cole, Annie Cooper, Robin Cooper, Emily Crockett, Josh Crockett, Sarah Crockett, Tom Crockett, Lee Florea, Li Hau, Duke Hopper, Hilary Hopper, Debbie Moore, Joe Morgan, Randy Paylor, Peggy Renwick, Oliver Renwick, Chris Reynolds, Linda Ritchie, Sam Rottenberger, Mark Turner, Bill Walden, and others. I include all the names, because this is probably one of the largest CTFs we have! In 2000, she reports that landfill #1 has been capped and vegetated, and that landfill #2 is not expected to be open anytime soon. Effects of the effluent of #1 are still unknown. Although a sanitary landfill looks unlikely, a demolition and debris landfill is still a possibility for the site. Research on the cave system continues. Much of the efforts of the SVCTF in 2000 were diverted to the KICK 66 effort in expressing opposition to both the idea and the route of proposed I-66 through Kentucky. Along the way, SVCTF members Lee Florea, Randy Paylor, and others organized the Kentucky Speleological Survey, an organization whose time was long overdue. A bike trail named in honor of Cathy Crockett was built along the spine of the cave system, a development which Dr. Hopper says will bring its own challenges.

Teton CTF continues alive and well and active, according to Warren Anderson.

Two CTFs will be moving on in 2001. Pennsylvania Cave Legislation CTF, long a project of Judi Stack (who coordinated and quilted the beautiful bat quilt raffled at last year's convention) will disband-she has become discouraged with the receptivity of the legislature. And Xanadu Cave CTF is organizing to segue to an NSS Conservancy, since their ongoing good relationship with the Bruno Gernt Estate looks to be long term, according to Jeff Patton.

Lost River Conservation Association, and Hawaii Caves round out the roster of NSS Conservation Task Forces. Will yours be the next?

The CTF division of the NSS stands ready to lend assistance with advice, networking, and other help to any group of conservation oriented cavers who care about the future of the underground. Whether it be a single cave or an entire region, a situation requiring secrecy or publicity, often the best way to get a job done is to recruit some like-minded friends, and do it ones' self. Call upon the experience of other CTFs to help get the job done. Contact  Dave Jagnow, CTF Coordinator, at david@jagnow.com, or djagnow@cybermesa.com   for further information.

Reprinted from March 2001 NSS News