Any suggestions on initiating a cave cleanup?

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Any suggestions on initiating a cave cleanup?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 11, 2011 7:40 pm

Over the weekend in western Va. I visited a cave that I felt would be incredibly enjoyable if not for the obscene amounts of garbage and graffiti within. Perhaps I am naive as to what qualifies a cave for an organized restoration effort, but I feel that this particular cave is worth the work. If I didn't live 6 hrs away, I would be glad to make this my personal long-term project. I must admit that I have had no contact with the owner and do not know if he/she would allow such efforts, but if permission was granted, do you think a large scale cleanup is a realistic expectation?

The cave is very cluttered with decades worth of cans, bottles and broken glass as well as bits of string, clothes, candles, batteries, etc. There are also four or five sets of arrows, sprayed, smoked, and scratched on the walls, along with volumes of adolescent scribblings (this cave seems to have been a favorite among kids toying with occultism). In deeper levels there is relatively little mess and a lot of very interesting passage but the first impression greatly dampens enthusiasm. Anyway, tell me what you think and feel free to PM for more details. If a cleanup is ever organized, I would ecstatically make the drive to help.
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Re: Any suggestions on initiating a cave cleanup?

Postby NZcaver » Jun 12, 2011 1:40 am

First you need to find out who owns and/or manages the property, and get in contact with them directly. Large scale cleanups are certainly realistic, and I've helped with several in recent years. You'll need some willing cavers to help, and possibly other resources too. Try contacting the nearest grotto and maybe other outdoor or youth/service organizations to see if they would be willing to help. Kudos to you for getting the ball rolling. :clap:
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Re: Any suggestions on initiating a cave cleanup?

Postby graveleye » Jun 13, 2011 8:38 am

I've organized clean-ups before. First thing you want to do is contact the owner and see if they're interested, and ask permission. After that, it's a matter of getting people and supplies together.

One thing for sure you will want to do is check the cave for any sort of historical markings. There has been more than one instance where well-meaning cavers have scrubbed ancient pictographs and glyphs off of cave walls. Sometimes there may be something of historical importance underneath the spray paint. Never sacrifice the historical stuff even when it seems a total loss. One day there might be a method to remove the graffiti without disturbing the historical markings. As much as it sucks, it's best to leave that alone for future generations and technology.

Caves that attract modern graffiti probably also attracted historical graffiti artists. Definitely have an archaeologist or someone qualified to inspect the cave before any scrubbing starts, no matter how hopelessly vandalized it might seem.

I did a little searching and didn't see anything in WV that resembles our SKTF (SERA Karst Task Force) here in TAG, but it wouldn't surprise me if something like a karst task-force existed in WV. If I was you, I would probably try to contact the WVa Speleological Survey. I bet they would be able to steer you in the right direction.

Good luck, and thanks!!
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Re: Any suggestions on initiating a cave cleanup?

Postby trogman » Jun 13, 2011 9:32 am

I'd bet that the folks with SKTF could give you some advice as well. http://sktfi.org/

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Re: Any suggestions on initiating a cave cleanup?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 13, 2011 1:10 pm

graveleye wrote:I did a little searching and didn't see anything in WV that resembles our SKTF (SERA Karst Task Force) here in TAG, but it wouldn't surprise me if something like a karst task-force existed in WV. If I was you, I would probably try to contact the WVa Speleological Survey. I bet they would be able to steer you in the right direction.


Thanks. I should have been clearer on the location. The cave is in Va, not WVa. In the western part of the state. I think the nearest grotto may be the one in Bristol?
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Re: Any suggestions on initiating a cave cleanup?

Postby graveleye » Jun 13, 2011 1:27 pm

I'm not really sure about the grottos up there so I can't help you there.
I'm still looking though to see if Va has something like the SKTF.
The NSS conservation website seems to be on the fritz too which isn't helping anything.
We'll get you hooked up somehow though!
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Re: Any suggestions on initiating a cave cleanup?

Postby graveleye » Jun 13, 2011 1:30 pm

Oh here we go:

http://www.varegion.org/var/conservation/conservancies.shtml

Looks like a few to choose from. The ACCA is a good one to check with,.... just keep in mind that they're really into installing cave gates from what I hear.
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Re: Any suggestions on initiating a cave cleanup?

Postby Buford » Dec 24, 2011 4:24 pm

Bring it up at a grotto meeting. There are probably people there who have participated in cleanups and can give you local advice.
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Re: Any suggestions on initiating a cave cleanup?

Postby Jon » Dec 25, 2011 11:30 pm

In my opinion all caves are worthy of clean up. The fact that there is cave that Jerkus-Americanous hasn't trashed makes it well up the list. Some may disagree but even a known cave has an impact on caving. If Joe newbie decides to take a trip to a well known cave and all he finds is trash and graffiti chances are he will not become a caver. Even if there are few formations left we have a better chance of gaining a caver (voter) with a non trashy cave. Maybe get with the nearest grotto and set up a survey and resto project. With responsible people being there kind of somewhat regularly the trashers may find a new place to play. A wealth of knowledge is available on what to do and what not to do in a book entitled Cave Conservation and Restoration. A local grotto or member should have a copy.

Often times you can get Scouts to help on the easy stuff that makes a noticeable difference. The painstakingly slow stuff takes a certain dedication. Match your people to the chore.

Good luck, and thanks in advance. If you can't get permission to do the clean up look for another. If all else fails try the nearest commercial cave to you, they often have ongoing projects and sometimes even workshops.
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Re: Any suggestions on initiating a cave cleanup?

Postby Teresa » Dec 27, 2011 11:35 am

Get hold of the Virginia Cave Board http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_her ... home.shtml

Last time I looked, about half of the members of the Board are nationally-known cavers. They can also advise you about trash disposal regs and coop opportunities, (often if you furnish the labor, some municipality/county can take care of the trash and disposal fees). They also have a couple of people there who know who would be the restoration experts in the state.
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Re: Any suggestions on initiating a cave cleanup?

Postby baa43003 » Dec 27, 2011 6:05 pm

Until you can start a large scale clean-up project, try educating and encouraging visitors to take a more proactive role in cave conservation. Is there a register in the cave? If not, placing one in a heavily visited spot can encourage visitors to leave their names and messages in a notebook instead of on the walls, formations, etc. Educational material on safe caving and caving ethics can also be placed in the register. Another idea, try placing some large Ziploc bags or small grocery bags in it and encourage cavers to pick up, bag, and remove a couple of pieces of trash during each visit. Good luck, and thanks in advance for your efforts!
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