Procedures and Criteria

NSS Grotto Conservation Award

Conservation and Management Section of the National Speleological Society

27 August 2004

Conservation Section Home


The Award

The Conservation and Management Section of the National Speleological Society presents the Grotto Conservation Award annually. It is given to an NSS Grotto that has made a significant contribution towards conservation or management of cave or karst resources with the intent to recognize the best and most effective NSS Grotto in the NSS. This award recognizes contemporary Grotto operation and achievement. The award consists of a certificate, $100 check, and the Grotto’s name on the Grotto Conservation Award plaque in the NSS office. The Grotto Conservation Award is presented only to NSS Grottos in good standing; whereas any NSS affiliated organization may be nominated for the Group Conservation Award.


Awards Committee Chair and Members

The chair, committee members, and judges shall be the same as those of the Section’s Group Conservation Award.



The Grotto Conservation Award shall be presented at the NSS Convention awards banquet by the Section Award Committee Chair or the Chairman’s designee.  An appropriate representative of the recipient organization shall be notified prior to the convention to encourage a representative to be present to receive the award. The NSS Awards Committee Chair shall also be notified for presentation format purposes. The Awards Committee Chair may choose to have this award be a surprise for the audience.



All Grottos affiliated with the NSS are eligible to be nominated for this award.



Nominations may be made by anyone. Self nominations are acceptable. Nominations shall be made in writing and sent electronically to the Award Committee Chair. The Chair shall set a deadline for nominations sufficiently prior to the NSS Convention to allow adequate time for proper consideration of all nominees. This deadline shall be coordinated with the NSS Awards Committee deadline. A call for nominations shall be maintained at appropriate places on the NSS Internet site and the NSS News shall be asked to publish a call for nominations annually. All NSS grottos and groups are encouraged to provide additional promotion of the award.


Criteria and Standards

The potential award recipient should have institutionalized accepted cave conservation and cave management practices within its activities.  Cave activities, projects, meetings, and other events should be conducted in a manner that reflects a strong conservation ethic and contemporary cave management methodology. Its leaders and members should be proactive cave conservationists. The potential award recipient should be an exemplary model for all NSS internal organizations and committees to emulate.


Consideration is also given for specific cave conservation and management projects. Some examples are listed below; this list should not be considered restrictive.


  1. Protecting and restoring karst and cave habit for troglobites and cave adapted life,
  2. Appropriate gating, fencing, and posting of caves and cave properties,
  3. Repairing and maintaining of gates and helping other organizations to do the same,
  4. Conducting or supporting cave restoration such as removing graffiti and trash, repairing and reattaching broken speleothems, damaged cave floors, removing inappropriate artificial fill, and cleaning speleothems or other cave surfaces,
  5. Doing karst land cleanups such as removing debris and trash from sinkholes and recharge areas,
  6. Enforcing cave protection laws and assisting authorities with the apprehension and prosecution of cave vandals,
  7. Working to establish and strengthen laws and regulations that protect and conserve caves and karst lands,
  8. Actively working to decrease the sale of speleothems,
  9. Educating public officials to appropriate land use in karst areas,
  10. Opposing inappropriate land use in karst areas,
  11. Establishing and supporting cave conservancies and preserves,
  12. Providing wealth and resources for cave conservation and management,
  13. Assisting landowners with the protection and conservation of karst resources,
  14. Educating cavers to become proactive conservationists,
  15. Conducting educational outreach such as cave conservation presentations and publications aimed at the general public,
  16. Encouraging show cave owners and managers to take every practical opportunity to aid the public in understanding caves and the importance of their conservation,
  17. Assisting private cave owners by providing historical and biological knowledge about their cave and helping them protect it and the surrounding property from damage during cave visits and from inappropriate land use,



The judges shall devise a system to assign value to the various components of the nominee’s activities. The system may use points or some other means to weigh the accomplishments and activities by year.  The following example describes the weighting required to be given to activities by year for each nominee.

  1. All points for conservation merit and activities earned in the last year are evaluated at full value.
  2. All points for conservation merit and activities earned in the period of one to two years prior to the award are evaluated at 75% of full value.
  3. All points for conservation merit and activities earned prior to two years and not more than five years are evaluated at 50%.
  4. No consideration is to be given to any accomplishments or other activities more than five years in the past.
  5. No consideration is to be given to any accomplishments or other activities of previous award recipients prior to the date the grotto previously received this award or the Group Conservation Award.
  6. The judges may give some consideration, at their discretion, to the size and wealth of the Grotto. For example, favorable consideration may be given to a small Grotto that makes extraordinary efforts and considerable sacrifices versus a large Grotto with a similar level of cave conservation accomplishments that required little sacrifice.



Nominations for the 2005 Grotto Conservation Award should be sent to:

John M. Wilson

Awards Committee Chair, Conservation and Management Section



The approximate deadline for the 2005 award is 1 June 2005. This date may change.