Vision for the NSS Conservation Division
by Jim C. Werker and Val Hildreth-Werker

Getting the conservation message out among the public and down in the cave passages depends on all of us. As we enter the Third Millennium, our NSS vision is based on strengthening awareness of the benefits gained by protecting caves and karst.

Our collective NSS efforts are vital-for educating the general populace, for working cooperatively with land owners and land managers, and for generating increased conservation awareness among cavers. Individual, grotto, regional, and national efforts are essential in the campaign for cave and karst conservation.

As the new Conservation Division Chiefs, we look forward to this era of NSS conservation outreach. Our mission is to inject the general knowledge base with new information and conscious concern for cave and karst protection. This prescription demands that we coordinate conservation efforts among internal NSS organizations, through external conservation and cave-related organizations, and with federal, state, and local agencies. In some parts of the country, greater awareness of karst hydrology is vital to the health of groundwater. In other regions, continuation of long-term caving activities will be dependent on programs that disseminate conservation management information. Now is the time-especially with the March 2001 release of the MacGillivray Freeman IMAX film, Journey into Amazing Caves. It is time for the NSS to lead a major movement in encouraging protection of cave and karst landforms.

With support, input, and teamwork from NSS members, the Conservation Division will target a greater diversity of audiences and heighten awareness of the importance of cave and karst conservation. We encourage your participation.

Listed here are specific conservation goals for 2001. The paragraphs below describe programs we have initiated to meet these outreach goals. Please contact us if you'd like to help with any of these projects.

  • Develop programs to increase public awareness of the benefits of cave and karst conservation.
  • Work with agencies, conservancies, and land managers to provide conservation management programs that describe updates and current best practice. Schedule presentations for landowners, land managing agencies, commercial cave personnel, conservancies, and cavers.
  • Strengthen and extend conservation knowledge among cavers.

NSS Conservation Team:
During the next four months, we will be looking for cavers who are willing to participate in an important task. We are recruiting NSS Conservation Team members from across America. Since it is time to give serious thought to materials for educating the public about the benefits of karst and cave protection, we are developing information packets and initiating programs that will enhance public awareness. Conservation Team members will use the materials to make presentation about the benefits of protecting, conserving, and preserving karst landforms-about taking care of the great variety of caves on our planet. Information modules will be used to increase general understanding of the diversity of cave resources. Modules will detail how cave environments can provide natural archival vaults for the preservation of fragile, irreplaceable resources. From protecting endangered species to preserving precious archaeologic, paleontologic, and historic resources-from geologic observations of the earth's interior to scientific research-programs need to include new conservation information and current speleologic studies. Team members will agree to interact with regional and local organizations and volunteer to present seminars for them. To apply for one of these slots, please send a resume and cover letter describing your interest to Jim Werker and Val Hildreth-Werker, NSS Conservation Division Co-Chairs, PO Box 1018, Tijeras, NM 87059 phone: 505.286.0148 werks@zianet.com

New Book:
Cave Conservation & Restoration More than thirty contributors have submitted material for this new book about cave conservation. It is being edited by Val Hildreth-Werker and Jim Werker. Content includes restoration techniques, formation repair, minimum-impact ethics, and information from most of the scientific disciplines in speleology. Organized in easy-to-identify sections and designed as a field manual, this publication will provide guidelines for conservation decisions, encourage leave-no-trace ethics, and offer techniques that any caver can use to better protect, understand, and conserve cave environments. Cave Conservation & Restoration will be published by the NSS and is scheduled to be available at the NSS Convention in 2001.

NSS Brochures and Museum Quality Display:
The NSS Conservation Division and the Education Division are collaborating to design materials about the NSS and the benefits of protecting karst and cave landforms. The new traveling display panels will present an overview of the purpose and activities of the NSS-accomplishments, size, programs/projects, cave preserves, conservation initiatives, etc. Developing brochures to accompany the exhibit is being considered. If you have professional skills in graphic arts/communications and would like to work on these projects, please send your resume and cover letter to Jim Werker and Val Hildreth-Werker, NSS Conservation Division Co-Chairs, PO Box 1018, Tijeras, NM 87059 phone: 505.286.0148 werks@zianet.com

Reprinted from March 2001 NSS News