Procedures and Criteria

Group Conservation Award

Conservation and Management Section of the National Speleological Society

Approved 7/30/2002

Conservation Section Home


The Award

The Conservation and Management Section of the National Speleological Society presents the Group Conservation Award annually. It is given to group affiliated with the NSS 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 conservation group in the NSS. This award is for contemporary group operation and achievement. The award consists of a certificate, $100 check, and the groupís name on the Group Conservation Award plaque in the NSS office.


Awards Committee Chair

The Chair of the Conservation and Management Section of the NSS shall annually appoint the Awards Committee Chair with the approval of the members at the Section Annual Meeting. If the section does not act to appoint an awards committee chair at the annual meeting, the Awards Committee Chair shall serve until resignation or a successor is appointed. If a vacancy occurs between annual meetings, the Section Chair may appoint a section member to serve as Awards Committee Chair to fill the vacancy with the approval of the Section Executive Committee.


Awards Committee

The Chair of the Awards Committee shall appoint a committee of at least three and not more than five judges. The Chair may be one of the judges. The Chair should appoint judges who are deemed wise, fair, and impartial. Candidates for judges are persons whose strong conservation work has been noted by recognition from the NSS, or by exceptional service and dedication to cave and karst conservation within the NSS or affiliated groups.

Some examples of the types of accomplishments or recognition that qualify a person to serve as a judge are:

  • Receiving the Individual Conservation Award,
  • Receiving a significant award from the NSS that was granted at least in part for cave conservation work, (Some of the awards that often meet
    this standard are the Outstanding Service Award, the Honorary Member Award, and the Certificate of Merit Award.)
  • Being a leader who was instrumental in a group's conservation work that led to an organization receiving the Group Conservation Award,
  • Doing exceptional cave and karst related conservation work.


The committee may conduct all of its business by electronic or other means of communication. In person meetings are not required.


NSS Coordination

The Chair of the Section Awards Committee shall coordinate the selection and presentation process with the NSS Awards Committee Chair and the NSS Administrative Vice President. This coordination could include having the Chair of the Section Awards Committee participate in some way in the NSS Awards Committee.



The Group Conservation Award shall be presented at the NSS Convention awards banquet by the Section Award Committee Chair or the Chairmanís 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 NSS internal organizations, NSS committees, and other groups 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 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 nomineeís 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 group previously received this award.
  6. The judges may give some consideration, at their discretion, to the size and wealth of the group. For example, favorable consideration may be given to a small group that makes extraordinary efforts and considerable sacrifices versus a large group with a similar level of cave conservation accomplishments that required little sacrifice.



Nominations for the Group Conservation Award should be sent to:

John M. Wilson

Awards Committee Chair, Conservation and Management Section



The deadline for the award is 1 June of the year of the award.