GroundquestMSA wrote:What "set me off" was spending a year or two working on the underground update column, therefore reading about the activities of most US grottos. This coupled with the comparison of caves owned by conservancies and traveled only by cavers with caves in regions ignored or abandoned by cavers. I see little evidence that NSS is doing much to save caves from wasteful, careless use. I have no interest in keeping anyone out of caves, but also none in enfranchising cave tourists. I am still caving often, walking constantly.
I'm not critical as caving as a hobby. It's one of mine. I am simply convinced that cave overuse is a reality and that careless use is a reality and that those two things are tied to caving being pushed by recreational clubs. I wish there were ways to solve these problems without reducing caver numbers, but I can't imagine any.
OK Jonah, I'll bite. "Wasteful, careless use... cave overuse... tied to caving being pushed by recreational clubs." I guess I just don't see this the same way you do.
Caving is certainly not a common choice as far as outdoor sports/hobbies go, and it would be fair to describe the caving community as somewhat "fringe." Without at least some "official" encouragement at local levels, less people get to try caving, and more people who actually do get caving for the first time will be less likely to do so under experienced guidance. While I'm sure many people would survive just fine, it may be less advantageous for cave conservation in general, for landowner relations, for personal safety, and for encouraging new blood in project caving and the cave sciences. I mentioned this in an earlier post, and it's not an unfounded theory. Look at what happened when policies in some states closed caves for WNS. Affiliated cavers mostly stayed out of caves, but casual visitors - including vandals - did not.
What would happen if we transfer this philosophy to other outdoor sports? Less hikers, rock climbers and mountaineers, please! Trails, crags and mountains are overused by wasteful outdoorspeople. Stay out of the backcountry and stick to boardwalk nature trails and roadside viewing areas. And don't let your kids play in the mud! Sure, I get that there needs to be some balance between access/use and environmental responsibility. But if legitimate conservation concerns lead to hardline preservationist attitudes, what will become of adventurous spirits?