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NSS members disregarding caving proceedures

PostPosted: Feb 5, 2020 6:29 pm
by arachiya1
I am a former member of the NSS (I only became a member due to a newly formed grotto needed officers so they paid for it), A tribal Chief and owner of land with a cave. Over the many years, most of Florida's grottos, have members that disregard the rights of the landowners and trespass to access the caves. One, Brooksville Ridge Cave, resulted in the cave being vandalized, but the discoverer was praised for the discovery despite the fact he trespassed, violating the law and NSS policy. I formed a caving group for my tribe, and NSS members were not invited, with one exception. This member is a cave diver and he said he was only an NSS member to have access to the water Filled caves. This individual signed a waiver (which is only required once for Terranaut Corps members) and he was given documents of rules that are very similar to NSS rules, regarding the caves and landowner relationships. Last year, January 2019 (two years after the individual stopped participating), two strangers trespassed onto the tribe's land, one appeared to have a hand gun. They were caught by camera jumping the fence and going around the fence by trespassing onto someone else's property. I had absolutely no idea who these people where until mid year when the NSS member was captured on camera, with these two people, with caving gear, trespassing on the tribe's property. They had no key to the gate, no waivers for the friends, he violated the rules informing his friends where the cave was and they visited the property without him (which he no longer had permission to visit the property anyway) and never submitted plans to visit the property (as required by our policy and rules). A police file was submitted and this member was contacted. He has a record of trespassing to find caves and we had lots of discussion on this subject, yet he disregarded everything I said and assumed it would be alright for him to violate the rules and ignore the no trespassing and trespassers will be shot signs. I offered him three choices for settling. He could pay a fine to the tribe. He could be arrested for trespassing. He could offer a settlement. He did not chose an option and I proceeded to press charges with the police after speaking with the tribal council. Soon after, he and his friends, hired a lawyer to work out a settlement and I was accused of extortion when I am the victim. I reported this to the NSS, sent the photos, members name, etc. and the person who replied, I assumed was a higher ranking member of the NSS. He wasn't and ultimately said the NSS would do nothing to punish this member. This member violated the property as the president of the local NSS Grotto (who ignore requests from the NSS FB member to investigate) Ultimately, the police made it difficult to press charges, the violators offered $1500 as long as their police record was erased and they make no admission to doing anything wrong. This was rejected obviously. The only justice I have is that they have a police record and are forever banned from participation in the tribes caving program or other activities and their friends, families are also forever banned. Because the NSS refuses to do anything to punish this member and enforce their policy of good landowner relationships I am definitely rejecting reconsidering allowing NSS members to come onto our land to aid with the exploration of this cave system.
Does anyone else fell outraged by NSS members trespassing and disregarding established procedures and the NSS not willing to do anything to discipline these members who are going to ruin future cave access for those who do obey the proceedures or am I completely alone in this?

Re: NSS members disregarding caving proceedures

PostPosted: Feb 29, 2020 11:09 am
by arachiya1
I am very disappointed that no one has an opinion on this but I guess it confirms my suspicion about most NSS members regarding landowner relationships.

Re: NSS members disregarding caving proceedures

PostPosted: Feb 29, 2020 10:04 pm
by Squirrel Girl
arachiya1 wrote:I am very disappointed that no one has an opinion on this but I guess it confirms my suspicion about most NSS members regarding landowner relationships.

I am just seeing this thread based on your second post. CaveChat isn't very active anymore, since other places, such as Facebook, seem to have drained away our participants.

What you posted sounds damning. But I don't know if there's more to the story, nor do I know what I can do about the situation. What you write sounds very bad, and I would not engage in such behavior, not support that sort of activity. I'm just not sure what there is for me to do.

Re: NSS members disregarding caving proceedures

PostPosted: Mar 1, 2020 7:04 am
by arachiya1
Actually, there is not any more to the story. I tried to keep it as brief as possible, since it is a fact most people do not like to read (that is why contracts are usually long, have fine print and words have multiple definitions). I am not the best at clearly relaying information, although I do try. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. But it is fact about the events and the lack of responsibility the NSS wants to take to stop or discourage this behavior. Recently I tried to send another message to the BOG, but the same person who was assigned to answer me the first time intercepted the message and write (not word for word since I stopped reading it after the few opening words): "Given your passed dealings with the NSS (I stopped reading at that point because it is completely predictable of what came after), he was not going to give me a contact email to contact BOG. Cover up and refusal to take responsibility.
I could tell you stories of how the Central Florida Cavers took advantage of my generosity when they were forming and needed officers to be an NSS grotto. None of them really wanted the responsibility so they paid my NSS membership which was nice but ultimately, they did not really want me to do my job or bring up anything unpleasant that had to be dealt with and more importantly, they didn't want me publishing the club's problem as they did not want the NSS to see it.
When it was CFC turn to put on the annual Cave crawl gathering of Florida grottos, they arranged to hold it at a private camp ground but expected me to sign for the responsibility should the members damage any property, which they did. The younger members were constantly trespassing on people's property to go caving where as I was trying to contact the landowners to obtain permission. When I saw the slightly problem, I felt all members need to address it in order to solve it, and I would get yelled at for publishing my concerns (I owned the copyright to the newsletter). After 5 or 6 years they decided to get someone else to do the newsletter and take on the secretary position. The new person did one newsletter and quit. Most of the members were upset that my comic strip did not appear in that newsletter. Hardly anyone ever submitted material or ever accompanied me on my monthly caving trips yet complained about there not being monthly trips.
I could also mention how members of TBAG trespassed on land to be developed and their trespass resulted in the vandalism of the cave. The discoverer was in the papers as a hero and the development company basically the villain. If I were the company, I would have had him arrested for trespassing. Then there are many other examples that continue to this very day.
The NSS refuses to do anything about it. There must be punishment to discourage this activity. I am a land owner with a cave with great potential to be one of Florida's longest dry caves, and an NSS member violated NSS landowner relations policy as well as my tribe's caving club policies, and trespassed along with his friends. One appearing to be carrying a hand gun. The only thing the rep from the NSS said he would do is write an article, but he changed the story facts and made the issue sound unimportant. I told him not to bother if they weren't going to back it up with punishment for violators. He also said they would disassociate themselves from the grotto; Florida Speleological Society (whose current president was the one caught trespassing). He said the FSS did not reply to their inquiry about the complaint. That is more than enough to suspend or cancel the memberships of the FSS officers. But, the NSS will not do it. He said I have to talk to the BOG members and yet will not allow me to speak to the BOG members. I will not join the NSS again, especially not to talk to its leadership about them not living up to their landowner relationship policy.
You see, it has gotten so long, your probably stopped reading.... lol.

Re: NSS members disregarding caving proceedures

PostPosted: Mar 6, 2020 12:04 pm
by caverdan
Arachiya1, this is sad news and I say damn the trespassers. Your the one that will have to take the action and legal steps to stop these people, not the NSS. The NSS is a scientific, education, and resource for all things caving. You can count on one hand the members they have disciplined over the years. They are not the cave police. That is up to us as individuals and land owners like your tribe to do what it takes to protect the caves from even our own NSS members. Just because someone joins the NSS doesn't mean they believe in or follow the philosophy and practices set forth by the NSS as a whole.

The NSS use to screen their members. People that wanted to join had to be sponsored by another member. That practice stopped long ago to help increase membership and not exclude people that want to join and didn't know anyone that would sponsor them . Disciplining someone would decrease membership and put them in the position of being what they don't want to get in the middle of.....settling arguments between groups of people. I encourage you to remain a member of the NSS and use it as a resource and tool for learning about caves and caving. Apply for grants from them to help you protect your caves. Invite members to help clean up and reverse damage to the caves, not explore them. The best way to change something is to be on the inside, not the outside.

Grotto's can be very clickish and dysfunctional. If you don't like the local club, start your own club with like minded people. You do not have to be a grotto to reach out to people and show them the way. Use the NSS as a resource to teach people the way. Make up your own rules to follow by cherry picking what the NSS has to offer. Put together your own gatherings and throw out those you don't want attending. You have on your side one of the best things to draw in your own membership....cave access. Good luck.

We did the same thing about 30 years ago in Colorado. We started a club called the Madrats. We tried to join the NSS and become a grotto, but were denied. That didn't stop up from forming a club. We have so many members now that most of them don't even know they are members. Their mistake for joining is they showed up to one of our annual parties. Coming to a party is what makes you a member and we have a ton of NSS members in our club today. Few rules, no officers, we meet once a year to party and look for caves. Our motto.....Find um, scoop um, and bury um. :big grin: We still use the NSS as a learning tool, but we do not promote membership to them. People can make up their own mind to join or not. We have been asked by the NSS to be their security task force at a couple of conventions, and we agreed. :yikes: :doh: :argue: We are not anti NSS. We believe in what they teach and leave it at that.

Re: NSS members disregarding caving proceedures

PostPosted: Mar 6, 2020 1:56 pm
by arachiya1
The NSS is responsible for the conduct of its members, like any other organization or business. that is the whole point. I did take care of these people legally, but the point is the NSS has this grand rule about maintaining good relations with the landowners and they are not willing to show the landowners they are serious by punishing members who violate those policies. Who would they feel if say they had special arrangements to go to a cave, lets say lechiguia (I probably mis-spelled that) and then an NSS member (knowing the rules and arrangements and procedures) tells his friends its ok to go to the property when ever they want, then go on a trip without notifying the land owner or signing waivers, then the land owner finds out who the person is and bans the NSS from ever going to the cave again because they refuse to punish that member, the trip leader? If I was the NSS, that person's membership would be suspended for a year and the individual would not be permitted to participate in NSS sanctioned events or go to any caves owned or managed by the NSS or an NSS Grotto.

In this case, the person was a member of my group. He was going to be the head of the first chapter of the group. But I have not heard from him for two years so I assumed he was not interested any longer and then our trail camera finds his friends trespassing on our land, jumping the fence, ignoring the signs and warnings, even carrying a gun onto the property. I didn't know who these people were until half a year later when the camera caught the FSS president himself, with caving gear, on my property with his friends. As a member he had permission to go to the property but by the rules he was to notify me when he was going and have who ever else id going sign waivers. He never did any of this. I gave him the documents and we had long discussions about trespassing while we worked in Dragon Cave. But he chose to violate every rule and procedure that was established... and he uses the excuse this was on my own time. Wrong, as long as you are an NSS member, you represent them at all times. Because he violated the rules, he now has a police record and he, his friends, their friends and families, are forever banned from returning to the property. We have signs up warning that TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT and they will if we catch anyone there and the police can do nothing about that fact because the signs warn of the action to be taken. Because the NSS will not punish him, or the FSS (the FSS failed to respond to the NSS inquirery), the NSS and all of its members are forever banned from coming to the tribe's land or aiding in the cave's exploration.

I would never allow a grotto or chapter group to behave in such an unprofessional manner or to be a representative of my group if they act like such irresponsible morons. I have witnessed how the members of the local grottos behaved...these people can not do without alcohol for not even a single day! In my group, you can not consume alcohol two days before a trip to the cave and any at all during an event (such as a weekend long cave get together and camping trip). But it is almost a requirement at the events and trips I attended as an NSS member and I was disgusted. These people are not interested in science or conservation, they are sports cavers and exploration is only serious to them to the point of getting a rush. In fact, when they come to a passage that needs to be dug out, they claim the cave is explored and go run around like children. If I were the NSS, grottos would be required to obey the rules and procedures and if they fail to punish a member that violates those rules, the entire grotto would no longer be associated with the NSS and lose all privileges that is part of being an NSS member. But the NSS doesn't seem to care about their reputation, and won't until say the federal government closes them off from some major caves, then we may see a change in policy.

I am socked that the NSS allowed me to post this... based on their behavior they would want nasty facts like this on their own message board.

Re: NSS members disregarding caving proceedures

PostPosted: Mar 9, 2020 9:37 am
by caverdan
Your point is well taken.....but my message remains the same.

Re: NSS members disregarding caving proceedures

PostPosted: Mar 9, 2020 11:24 am
by arachiya1
And a good point, but my point is still the same. You point out that it seems most grottos are basically messed up and don't really follow NSS guidelines. So the point is, the NSS should create a policy and enforce it. I certainly want irresponsible people to represent me or my group. Thank you for your comment, it is appreciated. I am posting the slow explorations of my tribe's cave if you want to follow that; THE SLOW EXPLORATION OF DRAGON CAVE.

Re: NSS members disregarding caving proceedures

PostPosted: Mar 9, 2020 8:35 pm
by caverdan
I'd say some grotto's...not most. Luckily I belong to a friendly grotto. I do feel for you. Did you know the NSS is completely volunteer? They have two maybe three office ladies on their payroll. I can't think of any other non profit that doesn't have some kind payroll for the people in charge....and the leaders do not receive a single dime for what they do. I'm just offering you some insight is all and not surprised to hear them not wanting to get it the middle of this kind of thing.

FWIW, I use to hang out here all the time on Cavechat. But Facebooger and other forms of social media have put this discussion board out of business, so to speak. I hadn't visited this board for a long time, then I stumbled across your threads. I am interested in what your finding and I'm doing a lot of the same things you are doing here in Colorado Springs. I've been a member of the Williams Canyon Project since 1994 and am currently the chair. I love digging for cave. That's what our project is all about. Nothing like exploring virgin passage. Making a break through and being the first explorer is an incredible feeling. Better than any drug you can ever take. Keep digging buddy. In the end all your trials and tribulations will be well worth it.

A word of advice. If you do break into going cave......gate that sucker before the word gets out or your have every A hole in Florida coming to see it. Trespass or not. My motto.....Find um, scoop um, bury um. (Bury equals gate, but doesn't rhyme the same.) If your ever in Colorado Springs....look me up. I'll take you caving to one of the most beautiful caves on the planet. :banana: :banana_yay: :banana: :banana_yay:

Re: NSS members disregarding caving proceedures

PostPosted: Mar 28, 2020 6:14 am
by GroundquestMSA
The NSS serves very little purpose, has no interest in the behavior of its members, and no power of response for its members' actions. It runs on tradition, ego, a speck of passion, and a few dollars. Since the primary aim of hobby clubs is self-perpetuation, the main concern is that members pay dues. Don't take the too NSS seriously or expect much from it.

I trespass on private land constantly, all around the eastern US, to go caving or just to take a walk. I accept any possible consequences. While it is impossible for the NSS to legislate respect for landowners, I have true respect for my neighbors, and good relations with many many landowners.

My point is that you're wasting time whining about organizations and policies and rules. Decent human relations have no need for such things. You also seem to think too much of yourself and your "authority". Treat people reasonably and well. If they do harm, do what you can to stop it or correct it. If they aren't hurting anything, let it go.