NSS Convention update on caving in the area

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NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby Ernie Coffman » Mar 4, 2011 1:26 pm

This is a nice article on the updates of what's happening in the Glenwood area for the July convention. Needless to say, this isn't a surprise, but the staff has been working with the Feds, to see if they can get some conditions changed, possibly. :roll: Time will tell, but...read on
http://www.postindependent.com/article/ ... ofile=1074
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby PYoungbaer » Mar 4, 2011 3:47 pm

Nice job, Dave Lester!
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby caverdan » Mar 4, 2011 8:27 pm

Way to go Dave......excellent article......if we get through this permitting process it will be a miracle. :big grin:

The CCS has asked grotto's across the state to comment on a stipulation the USFS has come up with for our convention permits. They want to put up nets and keep bats from entering the permitted caves during convention. :tonguecheek: After a unanimous NO vote against such an idea......we broke into a rather lively discussion about if our official answer back should include the word STUPID or ASININE to discribe how we feel about this. I believe STUPID won the final vote... :argue: ....nuff said. :down: :yikes: :doh: :shrug:
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby wyandottecaver » Mar 5, 2011 10:30 am

Wow.

I'd actually like to see their actual request and justification for that Dan. Biologically its...interesting. I could actualy see a case if they were worried about WNS affected bats entering "clean" caves during Convention and thus exposing cavers from across the country to Colorado WNS bats. It still would bring up all sorts of other issues even then.

But....I rather suspect they thought they were protecting Colorado bats from cavers...which is silly even if cavers were carrying WNS since they would be impacting the actual cave environment as well and thus once the nets were removed.....

The only logical application (and one I actually kinda like) is if they wanted to permanently install barriers before the arrival of WNS on "non significant bat caves" with high recreational value to try and create "clean" caves that cavers could visit if and when WNS arrives.

To the extent you can, without violating any verbal or written agreements, I would be interested in seeing the USFS actual conditions and requests.
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby Colorado Carl » Mar 9, 2011 1:03 am

wyandottecaver wrote:The only logical application (and one I actually kinda like) is if they wanted to permanently install barriers before the arrival of WNS on "non significant bat caves" with high recreational value


The logical application you describe is the one being discussed. The idea of netting caves has come up during the discussions of obtaining access to USFS caves during the 2011 Convention, but only as one option out of several. I doubt the scoping letter relating to the exemption to the closure order will even mention netting. The scoping letter should be out very soon.

The Colorado Cave Survey and NSS Convention Committee are working very hard with the White River National Forest and USFS Region 2 to obtain access to caves for the 2011 Convention, despite the blanket closure of caves in Region 2. The process is ongoing.

Right now the strategy for the two goals of obtaining cave access during the Convention and not accidentally spreading WNS is focused upon: decontamination, providing loaner caving gear, and requesting that cavers from WNS-positive states not bring their caving gear to Convention.

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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby Phil Winkler » Mar 9, 2011 8:51 am

But how would you determine the cave had no bats before you put the net up? The net could trap bats in the cave resulting in their certain death by starvation or thirst.
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby John Lovaas » Mar 9, 2011 9:44 am

wyandottecaver wrote:The only logical application (and one I actually kinda like) is if they wanted to permanently install barriers before the arrival of WNS on "non significant bat caves" with high recreational value


Huh. Cavers in the upper Midwest just spent $20,000 fighting that idea, among several floated by WIDNR. I'll buy into the idea of netting an infected colony's entrance in the winter to prevent infected bats from travelling to other hibernacula(as unpublished PA GC experiments did), but the untested idea of the netting of recreational caves is, I am sorry to say, nonsense. WIDNR based their defense of recreational exclusion on PA's unpublished studies- but never presented a single detail.

I fear someone out west heard about another agency conducting 'recreational exclusion'- and if someone else is doing it, it must be OK... sigh.

Personally, I wasn't planning on caving at Convention this year; there will be 20,000,000 things to do above ground for a flatlander like me.
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby caverdan » Mar 9, 2011 10:19 am

One of our staff members just aquired 250 pairs of coveralls from his uniform supplier. We now have loaner gear to use and/or purchase. These are heavy duty.....slightly used....commercial grade cover alls. :bananabat:
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby Teresa » Mar 9, 2011 2:14 pm

Darn. I was planning on bringing my pet bat to Convention. Isn't everyone? I did hear Colorado was going to furnish decontam stations for everyone's bats. Is that plan still in effect? But if they net all the caves, the bats will have no place to roost....

Shirley went to the ICS in Texas with Eugene and raised $175 for WNS research, and didn't infect anyone that we know of.

:rofl: DISCLAIMER: IF YOU THINK THE ABOVE POST IS SERIOUS I HAVE A BRIDGE TO SELL YOU...please ring my cell. (giggling) :rofl:
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby wyandottecaver » Mar 9, 2011 10:01 pm

John,

As I understood it, WI wanted to exclude BOTH bats and people....and dictate access policies on private property at the owners involuntary expense. They also apparently wanted to use it on caves that were actually significant for bats. I could of course be wrong.

If we get away from caves being mystical sacred temples and look at them as resources to be managed, then a couple things seem obvious.

1) Most everywhere else (with few exceptions) the default has been that all publicly owned caves of any type (excepting commercial) are closed. supposedly to both keep people from bringing in or taking out GD contamination, and to give bats some extra peace and quiet. That means no caving in public caves...period. Bats or not.

2) if we assume that the most likely method of WNS transmission is in fact bats, then excluding them from a given cave would give a high liklihood of excluding GD. Obviously, if the cave was important to bats this would adversely affect bats and the cave ecology depending on them. But if the cave was not an important bat cave, then excluding bats would have a negligible impact both on bat populations and on the cave ecology.

3) If a cave was both not significant to bats, AND highly significant for recreation, then excluding bats would have a good chance of creating a desirable caving environment with a high chance of being free of GD. This in turn would allow managers an option for recreational caving that would have little chance of spreading GD and little impact on bat and cave ecology.

4) You might not be successful at exclusion, but if the site was favorable you'd have a good chance. As long as you were only mostly successful youd still greatly lower the risk of GD. You might also kill small numbers of bats either by trapping them inside or preventing entry at a critical time. GD is killing bats by the millions and hawks, owls, snakes, cars, and wind turbines each kill way more than sealing most caves would.

If the cavers in the upper midwest really did spend $20,000 not to stop government ursurpment of private property rights including commercial cave owners,(which was my take) but they were trying instead to stop WI from excluding small numbers of bats on public property from low population bat caves with high recreational value in order to make them open for recreational caving.......You might want to join the CBD not NSS.
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby John Lovaas » Mar 9, 2011 10:59 pm

,

wyandottecaver wrote:As I understood it, WI wanted to exclude BOTH bats and people....and dictate access policies on private property at the owners involuntary expense. They also apparently wanted to use it on caves that were actually significant for bats. I could of course be wrong.


Todd- the WIDNR WNS management philosophy has always been bats -OR- people. Landowners would have to choose between bats or access.

wyandottecaver wrote:1) Most everywhere else (with few exceptions) the default has been that all publicly owned caves of any type (excepting commercial) are closed. supposedly to both keep people from bringing in or taking out GD contamination, and to give bats some extra peace and quiet. That means no caving in public caves...period. Bats or not.


Announcing that all caves are closed is cheap and simple management- but not necessarily efective management.

wyandottecaver wrote:2) if we assume that the most likely method of WNS transmission is in fact bats, then excluding them from a given cave would give a high liklihood of excluding GD. Obviously, if the cave was important to bats this would adversely affect bats and the cave ecology depending on them. But if the cave was not an important bat cave, then excluding bats would have a negligible impact both on bat populations and on the cave ecology.


Yes- and removing native fish species from a stream will ensure that those fish will not contract diseases transmitted by contaminated fishing gear, I suppose.

If you can effectively exclude bats from a cave, then you can effectively exclude energy inputs from any critter larger than bats- I use the example of raccoons in Wisconsin. And that would clearly impact a cave ecosystem.

wyandottecaver wrote:3) If a cave was both not significant to bats, AND highly significant for recreation, then excluding bats would have a good chance of creating a desirable caving environment with a high chance of being free of GD. This in turn would allow managers an option for recreational caving that would have little chance of spreading GD and little impact on bat and cave ecology.


And sterilizing northern WIsconsin lakes would ensure that boaters wouldn't impact native species by introducing invasives.

wyandottecaver wrote:If the cavers in the upper midwest really did spend $20,000 not to stop government ursurpment of private property rights including commercial cave owners,(which was my take) but they were trying instead to stop WI from excluding small numbers of bats on public property from low population bat caves with high recreational value in order to make them open for recreational caving.......You might want to join the CBD not NSS.


Um, no. We hammered on the property rights issues. Our attorney hammered on the property rights issues. Virtually every written and oral comment hammered on the property rights issues.
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby Extremeophile » Mar 9, 2011 11:54 pm

wyandottecaver wrote:1) Most everywhere else (with few exceptions) the default has been that all publicly owned caves of any type (excepting commercial) are closed. supposedly to both keep people from bringing in or taking out GD contamination, and to give bats some extra peace and quiet. That means no caving in public caves...period. Bats or not.

Unfortunately true, but we shouldn't roll-over and accept these policies. We need to continue to lobby land managers to make better informed decisions and support research to better understand the disease and how it spreads. I'm concerned that the suggestion of excluding bats from a few targeted caves for recreation is being put forward as an alternative to re-opening most caves. Long-term blanket closures aren't justified and land managers need to be reminded of this.

2) if we assume that the most likely method of WNS transmission is in fact bats, then excluding them from a given cave would give a high liklihood of excluding GD. Obviously, if the cave was important to bats this would adversely affect bats and the cave ecology depending on them. But if the cave was not an important bat cave, then excluding bats would have a negligible impact both on bat populations and on the cave ecology.

I'm not sure who decides a cave isn't important ecologically, and what criteria they would use, but I don't think it's a path we want to go down.

3) If a cave was both not significant to bats, AND highly significant for recreation, then excluding bats would have a good chance of creating a desirable caving environment with a high chance of being free of GD. This in turn would allow managers an option for recreational caving that would have little chance of spreading GD and little impact on bat and cave ecology.

I know a place that is free of bats, no risk of spreading GD, has large walking sized passage, has good lighting, and climate control... the mall. If we want a controlled environment without risks then there are already plenty of places to recreate.

4) You might not be successful at exclusion, but if the site was favorable you'd have a good chance. As long as you were only mostly successful youd still greatly lower the risk of GD. You might also kill small numbers of bats either by trapping them inside or preventing entry at a critical time. GD is killing bats by the millions and hawks, owls, snakes, cars, and wind turbines each kill way more than sealing most caves would.

This sounds like "we had to destroy the village in order to save it".

Perhaps I do think of caves more like sacred temples than recreational sites, but I think most cavers feel the same way. The environment underground is more delicate and sensitive and the life that exists there is more easily disturbed. This is why visiting caves is so special and rewarding. I don't want to see the underground wilderness altered to satisfy a need for recreation.
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby wyandottecaver » Mar 10, 2011 6:36 pm

First,
I would ask a mod to consider creating a "excluding bats for recreation" thread since we are drifting :off topic:

I certainly agree that caves that are important to bats shouldn't have bat exclusion used. We also shouldn't (if we even could) be using exclusion on anything more than a few high value recreation caves.

As for the removing native fish example, we arent saving the bats from a disease, we are creating recreational use areas. To use your sterilizing lakes and streams, just consider the zebra mussel. *if* we had imposed the same rigor against boaters and fisherment we have against cavers and said you cant use a boat or fish on any public body of water. period. Then gave them an option to pick a few lakes here and there for boating and fishing if they were sterilized for mussel species only.....would they stay home or say sterilize? Yes, removing the mussel species would have a broader impact...but not necessarily a catastrophic one.

Yes, you would be excluding larger animals like raccoons as well....from a few caves. However, most caves are getting inputs from detritus and debris, not scat, and those caves where scat is a big component aren't generally preferred as recreational caves! Again, the number of impacted caves is going to be small and in many cases, the impact will be too.

Derikbristol,

Im not saying blanket closures are right, I'm saying they are the only option most places have offered. So do you accept zero public caving or do you try to get access to a few of the best caves. Sure we can hope land managers just decide to open most caves on their own. Does the tooth fairy still visit you? :tonguecheek:

those who are uncomfortable picking and choosing which caves are "important", sorry....happens every day when we build highways, turn limestone caves in quarries into driveway gravel, or even pick and choose which caves are "bat" caves for winter closure reasons. We can either pick and choose or let someone else pick for us.

Recreational caves dont mean commercial caves or malls. Those are already open cause the cure for WNS is the American dollar :roll:

We aren't destroying the villiage. If a cave wasn't important to bats to begin with, excluding them (and larger animals) isn't going to necessarily be a tragedy. Certainly we would have to evaluate each site proposed...but the simple fact is that "fragile caves" aren't necessarily all that fragile in most cases.
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby Extremeophile » Mar 11, 2011 12:37 am

wyandottecaver wrote:So do you accept zero public caving or do you try to get access to a few of the best caves.

I don't see these as the only alternatives. We shouldn't accept this idea of "targeted opening" of a few select caves. The appropriate management strategy is "targeted closure".

Does the tooth fairy still visit you?

I wish.
You don't need to imply that I've lost touch with reality... I think anyone giving more than 5 seconds of serious thought to the idea of netting caves has lost touch.

sorry....happens every day when we build highways, turn limestone caves in quarries into driveway gravel, or even pick and choose which caves are "bat" caves for winter closure reasons. We can either pick and choose or let someone else pick for us.

What is being proposed is that we pick "sacrificial" caves. The caving community teaches low impact techniques, which is reflected in our motto, and I don't subscribe to the idea that there should be sacrificial caves. Yes, development, agriculture, oil and gas drilling, logging and spelunking can all have a negative impact on caves. I've always considered the caving community protectors and defenders, not part of the problem. One of the biggest challenges in getting caves re-opened is to get land managers to see cavers as beneficial to the resource. Supporting this netting idea validates the misconception that caving is only about crawling around in the dirt.
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Re: NSS Convention update on caving in the area

Postby John Lovaas » Mar 11, 2011 10:38 am

wyandottecaver wrote:As for the removing native fish example, we arent saving the bats from a disease, we are creating recreational use areas.


Through management of an entirely speculative vector- a speculative vector that is far more easily addressed by gear decon and restrictions. And- displacing a population of bats does nothing, other than creating busywork for some agency staff. It is an entirely untested management method whose costs and benefits are entirely unknown. And, to date, I would argue that the WIDNR "experiments" on bat exclusion are an utter failure- there are currently more hibernating bats in the two caves WIDNR "sealed' last fall than there are bats, removed by DNR staff from those caves, "overwintering" in wine coolers in an office in Madison, WI.

Loading the homeless people of Santa Barbara, CA onto buses and dropping them off two towns away addresses the issue of homelessness- in Santa Barbara. Nothing is solved, nothing is changed. But the issue is now hidden from sight.

wyandottecaver wrote:Yes, you would be excluding larger animals like raccoons as well....from a few caves. However, most caves are getting inputs from detritus and debris, not scat, and those caves where scat is a big component aren't generally preferred as recreational caves!


If you cave in the upper Midwest, you will spend lots of time in raccoon scat, unless you stick to commercial caves. And detritus and debris input that isn't due to critter activity depends on gravity and hydrology to enter the cave- and not all caves have entrances with a vertical component, moving water, etc.
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