Remembrance

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Re: Remembrance

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jan 26, 2017 9:12 pm

tncaver wrote:Jonah, I think perhaps you are becoming somewhat of a conservation fanatic like so many, who have what I call the "gate" mentality.
Just my opinion of course. There are caves in TN that are heavily vandalized. But as I mentioned previously, they were well known
party caves that locals have visited for decades. The NSS has always taught cavers to "leave nothing but footprints" and "cave lightly".


Again, vandalism is not the only way to damage caves. Nonetheless, the actions of cavers (not local partiers) have in some instances had effects just as unsightly as blatant vandalism. The NSS has indeed pushed slogans. But has it taught cavers to love caves (not caving, caves)? Has it taught the virtues of behavioral restraint? NSS is a recreational organization. I've seen enough now of recreational pursuits of all sorts to know that when recreation is made a priority, something is always exploited, something is always overused. But when affection and fidelity dictate behavior, care and protection become priorities. I do not think I am a conservation fanatic, and I try to distance myself from most of what passes for conservationist philosophy. I don't know exactly what you mean by a "gate" mentality, but I have no interest in restricting cave access (with very few exceptions). I simply wish that cavers could collectively take a fresh look at their motivations and the effects they are having on the places they visit, and make some changes in thought and action that might benefit both caves and themselves.
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Re: Remembrance

Postby tncaver » Jan 27, 2017 9:36 am

I would hardly call the NSS a recreation based organization. Recreation is only one segment of what it stands for. The NSS
definitely teaches respect for caves and not just slogans. They do physical teaching of their principles through their
grottoes and the convention. And of course they promote all kinds of scientific speleology.
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Re: Remembrance

Postby LukeM » Feb 3, 2017 9:09 am

I always appreciate it when I hear someone say things along the lines of "X passage is really pretty, but it's very delicate so you should only visit it if you've never seen it and are very motivated to do so" or "If you've seen X you probably shouldn't go back since it gets too much traffic as it is" or even "You really shouldn't go down that passage since there's no way to travel without causing damage. It was well documented during the survey and there are photos."

How many people can honestly say that on a regular basis they practice the ethic of neglecting to do something in a cave in the interest of preserving something for others, or simply letting it exist a little longer? Because let's be honest, there are some things that no longer exist for others to see because "legitimate" cavers experienced them too much. There's a distinct difference between creating rules to keep cavers from doing things and personally observing the practice of not being selfish when there are no rules applied.

I find the topic of the NSS being too pro-recreation a little ironic because the chief criticism I've seen of the NSS over the past several years (and the reason for the most cancelled memberships) is that they focus on recreation and keeping caves open too little. That may be a little bit of unjustified post-WNS frustration where the gargantuan momentum of the federal government was never going to be overcome.

Maybe both can be true. It may be that the NSS could do a better job securing access to caves while also doing a better job of teaching the idea of personal restraint. Sometimes when a complex idea is boiled down to slogans and bullet points the philosophy that inspired them becomes watered down. Or was there never a passionately conceived original philosophy and these guidelines were put in place mostly to distinguish organized cavers from spelunkers? Does the community self-correct when the effects of organized cavers contradict the guidelines they teach to new cavers? I think that may be what Jonah is getting at, or at least that's the thought his post stimulated.
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Re: Remembrance

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 3, 2017 4:52 pm

Thanks for a very nice post Luke

LukeM wrote:I find the topic of the NSS being too pro-recreation a little ironic because the chief criticism I've seen of the NSS over the past several years (and the reason for the most cancelled memberships) is that they focus on recreation and keeping caves open too little.

Indeed. However, NSS is still driving for members... what else will the majority do other than recreational caving?

LukeM wrote: It may be that the NSS could do a better job securing access to caves while also doing a better job of teaching the idea of personal restraint.

Certainly it could. But restraint is not a favored concept in this country...
Which is why I wrote elsewhere that NSS ought to purchase and advertise open access to large, recreationally significant caves. This could incentivize membership while funneling traffic into fewer caves. That might not actually work, and I know it won't happen, but it's still more realistic than hoping people can be taught to give a damn.
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Re: Remembrance

Postby tncaver » Feb 3, 2017 6:20 pm

However, NSS is still driving for members... what else will the majority do other than recreational caving?

Isn't that what almost every organization in the US and probably the world does? They seek out additional members
with like thinking. NSS has been very conservative for their entire existence. And maybe that is a good thing.
So what if the majority do recreational caving? What the He .. l..L is wrong with that? Is there any sport or
organization that has ONLY hard core purists? NO, there isn't! And I hope that doesn't change.
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Re: Remembrance

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 3, 2017 7:35 pm

tncaver wrote:However, NSS is still driving for members... what else will the majority do other than recreational caving?

Isn't that what almost every organization in the US and probably the world does? They seek out additional members
with like thinking. NSS has been very conservative for their entire existence. And maybe that is a good thing.
So what if the majority do recreational caving? What the He .. l..L is wrong with that? Is there any sport or
organization that has ONLY hard core purists? NO, there isn't! And I hope that doesn't change.


Yes, this is what many (not all) organizations do. What is wrong with this is that caves are too singular and too fragile to be used as mere playgrounds. So an organization that promotes their use as such cannot honestly claim to have conservation among its values.

I'm not speaking against recreational caving, I'm just not sure that it should be institutionally promoted. As conservative as caving culture in this country has been, there is still much evidence of overuse and carelessness.

I don't think there is any such think as a caving purist, and didn't mean to imply that "project caving" is necessarily any more noble than "tourist caving" Both can and are being done with or without care and respect.
A bigger and more complicated question is, what is recreation?
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Re: Remembrance

Postby tncaver » Feb 3, 2017 7:49 pm

Jonah, you have gone off the deep end. :sad:
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Re: Remembrance

Postby eyecave » Feb 3, 2017 10:48 pm

absolutely the NSS should not promote recreational caving to the general public, or experienced cavers..........the problem with successfully balancing the more conservative or liberal side of the issue you have....or if you are a mixture of attitudes and feelings.......the problem is.......everyone is right!!!........caves that need,..because they deserve protection are known........caves that are basically sacrificial caves are also very important because they serve a vital function in the protection of other caves that NEED protection or controlled use.....they also will lead many first time cavers to seek out other caves and thus experienced cavers...my first visit to a cave involved building a rather large fire inside a luckily very large entrance, kingston saltpeter it was.....now, after being a member of the caving community for 45 years i have a different idea about cave ecology.....one example to indicate how radically conservative my most radical cave attitude is i believe cavers should suspend all visitation of caves containing bats during hibernation time..i have liberal thingys just as radical.....but most of my cave brain stuff is more centrist......

my point being the place i am at now is an evolution of my cave-related experiences....i think all cavers can see some instances where radical actions have their support...and also all cavers can see that sticking to the marked trail and not climbing or walking in some areas is also desirable behavior.......a percentage of new cavers are gonna start off wrong and do things in and to a cave that they might later try to repair.....the fewer the control older cavers have over the new cavers the larger percentage of "wrong starts" that will occur......caves, in my opinion need the "filter" of older cavers introducing rookies who want to try caving...those who want to go caving badly enough will find it.......those who might have but never did?...they will find some other sport they love.......to maintain the integrity of the filter we now have i think it wrong to encourage recreational caving among rookies or experienced cavers....caves have always done very well until the introduction of the caver...i also understand the emotion of standing in the dark zone for the first time and wondering where this feeling had been all your previous life......
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Re: Remembrance

Postby tncaver » Feb 4, 2017 7:21 am

eyecave stated:"i believe cavers should suspend all visitation of caves containing bats during hibernation time."

Absolutely. I think perhaps too many "scientists" disturb bats while they are hibernating. So I guess I'm a bit
over the deep end myself. Or am I? Hibernation is the WORST time to be disturbing bats but that is when "scientists"
prefer to count and band them which no doubt disturbs them.
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Re: Remembrance

Postby NZcaver » Feb 7, 2017 5:03 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:I'm not speaking against recreational caving, I'm just not sure that it should be institutionally promoted.

Take away "institutional promotion" and encouragement of responsible recreational caving, and watch how sharply membership numbers and revenues decrease for the NSS and its grottos, and local conservancies. Then sit back and watch as people continue to go recreational caving, but more and more do it casually with no clue about what caving safely and softly means. Meanwhile caving institutions lose their largest source of new blood, and the opportunity to spark interest in the cave sciences, exploration, and technical disciplines among ordinary recreational cavers. I think this would be foolish.
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Re: Remembrance

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 8, 2017 10:38 pm

NZcaver wrote:
GroundquestMSA wrote:I'm not speaking against recreational caving, I'm just not sure that it should be institutionally promoted.

Take away "institutional promotion" and encouragement of responsible recreational caving, and watch how sharply membership numbers and revenues decrease for the NSS and its grottos, and local conservancies. Then sit back and watch as people continue to go recreational caving, but more and more do it casually with no clue about what caving safely and softly means. Meanwhile caving institutions lose their largest source of new blood, and the opportunity to spark interest in the cave sciences, exploration, and technical disciplines among ordinary recreational cavers. I think this would be foolish.


It would have been supremely foolish of me to propose the changes I've proposed without considering your scenario as a possibility.
However, I believe that the safety and conservation standards among NSS cavers are effectively only a very small tick above those of "clueless" cavers. I also believe that, though it might take a couple of decades, an absence of caving clubs would lead to a dramatic decrease in caving. There is no need to spark interest in cave sciences, exploration, or technical disciplines. Ordinary people will approach these things out of necessity, or they won't. Many significant works of cave exploration, science, and documentation have been accomplished from outside the influence or knowledge of institutionalized caving. "Caving" is a hobby, a non-feeling, non-important, non-entity that doesn't need anyone's defense. It will always be instantly available to anyone with the motivation to pursue it. It's the caves I'm worried about.

NSS, supposedly, is "dedicated to the scientific study of caves and karst; protecting caves and their natural contents through conservation, ownership, stewardship, and public education; and promoting responsible cave exploration and fellowship among those interested in caves."

Only the last of these items is the actual truth, and the "responsible" is a token word. If NSS were to rearrange its priorities, it might be truly beneficial to caves. As it is, I'm convinced that its influence on ecosystems and so-called cave resources is a net negative.
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Re: Remembrance

Postby NZcaver » Feb 9, 2017 2:08 am

GroundquestMSA wrote:It would have been supremely foolish of me to propose the changes I've proposed without considering your scenario as a possibility.
However, I believe that the safety and conservation standards among NSS cavers are effectively only a very small tick above those of "clueless" cavers. I also believe that, though it might take a couple of decades, an absence of caving clubs would lead to a dramatic decrease in caving. There is no need to spark interest in cave sciences, exploration, or technical disciplines. Ordinary people will approach these things out of necessity, or they won't. Many significant works of cave exploration, science, and documentation have been accomplished from outside the influence or knowledge of institutionalized caving. "Caving" is a hobby, a non-feeling, non-important, non-entity that doesn't need anyone's defense. It will always be instantly available to anyone with the motivation to pursue it. It's the caves I'm worried about.

NSS, supposedly, is "dedicated to the scientific study of caves and karst; protecting caves and their natural contents through conservation, ownership, stewardship, and public education; and promoting responsible cave exploration and fellowship among those interested in caves."

Only the last of these items is the actual truth, and the "responsible" is a token word. If NSS were to rearrange its priorities, it might be truly beneficial to caves. As it is, I'm convinced that its influence on ecosystems and so-called cave resources is a net negative.

For a guy who has spent a lot of time communing with nature in caves and writing about it most eloquently, you sure are critical of others who cave as a hobby and the organizations they belong to. Perhaps all hobbies are non-important and devoid of "feeling" and nobody should join with like-minded people, lest their spark of interest might offend somebody. Did something in particular set you off, or are you just on a quest to keep everybody out of caves? Have you stopped caving too?

And P.S. - If you do a little more research, including the wide world outside your local caving area, you'll find that "MOST significant works of cave exploration, science, and documentation have been accomplished WITH the influence AND knowledge of institutionalized caving."
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Re: Remembrance

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 9, 2017 7:22 am

Did something in particular set you off, or are you just on a quest to keep everybody out of caves? Have you stopped caving too?


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.

NZcaver wrote: If you do a little more research, including the wide world outside your local caving area, you'll find that "MOST significant works of cave exploration, science, and documentation have been accomplished WITH the influence AND knowledge of institutionalized caving."

I've done the research. You are exactly right. But that doesn't mean that inspired individuals could not and would not be doing the same things if "Caving" did not exist. Castaret, Jessey, Bowling, etc.
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Re: Remembrance

Postby tncaver » Feb 9, 2017 9:19 am

GroundquestMSA stated: "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."

Jonah it sure appears you are being critical of caving as a hobby and critical of the NSS and most cavers as well. There is a way to solve your
issue. GATES. Many of our best caves are gated now due to the very few careless spelunkers who have trashed them. The drawback is that
gates tend to keep all cavers out, even if they are responsible cavers. That is why I for one am opposed to gates in most situations. There
are other ways to prevent vandalism. Post a sign on cave entrances briefly explaining caving etiqette. How often have you seen such signs?
Not often enough I suspect. As for the majority of caves, most are seldom visited. The majority of caves are not particularly special and do
not attract much attention. It is mostly caves that are well known by locals that have been abused. Most cavers I have caved with during the
last 50 years, have been very conscientious. The ONLY time I recall cavers blatantly vandalizing a cave and refusing to accept what they were
doing was wrong were some newbies and I never took them caving again.
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Re: Remembrance

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 9, 2017 3:50 pm

John, I understand your point of view. It helps that you live and cave in an area with so many caves that a great number of them are rarely visited. A lot of TN caves (besides the big attractions, as you mention) are in excellent condition. However, plenitude does not justify waste, and never has, this nation's long history of exploitation notwithstanding. Though somewhat separate from the point you were making, I must disagree that "the majority of caves are not very special". Each cave is special and singular and is part of a special and singular ecosystem that involves forests, pastures, streams, animals, men, stones, and the histories of all of these things, including histories unimaginable to us. So each cave needs to have its individuality, not just its fragility, respected when it is the scene of exploration or recreation. Cavers in general do not seem to recognize this.

I agree wholeheartedly that there are proper uses for gates and signage, but they can't solve the problem.

I might as well admit that our treatment of caves is only a miniscule symptom of a massive cultural disease that cannot be solved in isolation. So I'm mostly wasting my time writing about it at all. The only thing I can hope is that my own practices and convictions will be made clearer to myself, and that a few people might think more expansively about issues of land use.

I'm recently back from TN myself, and I reckon I'll post my trip report for old time's sake...
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