IU spelunkers work to clean up Buckner's Cave

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IU spelunkers work to clean up Buckner's Cave

Postby Lynn » Oct 25, 2005 7:03 am

IU spelunkers work to clean up Buckner's Cave
Local site plagued by graffiti, trash after partyers leave litter
By Kim Cullman | Indiana Daily Student | Tuesday, October 25, 2005

There exists an underworld where IU students go to explore the darker corners of the state -- a system of caves that runs through much of southern Indiana and surrounding states, including Kentucky and Tennessee.

Locally, Buckner's Cave is about a 20-minute drive from campus and is a popular spot for the IU Caving Club to explore. Most caves are farther from campus than Buckner's, which is about as far north as Indiana caves can be found.

Bloomington resident and caving club member Tymme Laun said Buckner's used to be a heavily populated cave, sometimes with as many as a few hundred people coming through in a single weekend. The cave also used to be a hot spot for IU students to party.

"I think that many people found Buckner's to be a local hangout after it really became trashed. They got the idea that no one was taking care of the place, and therefore they could do what they wanted and get away with it," said club member and graduate student Jessica Deli.

The cave has lost much of its natural environment to graffiti and large amounts of litter.

"Graffiti definitely has impacted many of the local cavers who vow never to return to Buckner's because (graffiti) has ruined their desire to visit, wade through the trash and look at the ugliness," Laun said.

The IUCC has made it a goal to try to restore the natural environment inside Buckner's. The group is working on removing as much of the graffiti as possible and oftentimes cleans up litter along the way during its caving expeditions.

"We try to leave the caves as we found them, if not better," club member and graduate student Marianne Batchelder said.

It is common for one of the clubs's caving trips to include clean-up work. Graffiti removal is one of the newest techniques for restoring Buckner's. It involves using wire brushes to scrape paint from the walls and into trash bags and disposing of the bags in the garbage. The challenge in this process is to remove the graffiti without destroying the walls of the cave, some of which contain history as well as nature.

"I think most of the signatures started being added in the Signature Room after it was named 'Signature Room' in the 'Spelunker's Guide to the Caves of the Garrison Chapel Valley.' Locals figured it was a place to write their name, sort of like a log book, when in fact it held some historic signatures, many of which have now been destroyed, or nearly so," Deli said.

In past years, other local groups, including the Boy Scouts of America and IU Outdoor Adventures, have spent time at Buckner's working on restoration; however, neither have current plans to continue work this year.

The IUCC is also trying to organize some conservation projects and is planning a work day along with the Richard Blenz Nature Conservancy for members to get together and continue to clean up Buckner's.

The club also takes monthly trips to different caves in the Bloomington and Monroe County area. The club members meet at 7:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month in the Geology building and discuss a range of environmental issues. Club members travel around the state to spend a few hours underground, crawling, climbing and hiking.

"I like the challenge. It's kind of a full body workout, not just hiking and not just walking," Batchelder said.

"'Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints and kill nothing but time,'" Batchelder said, quoting the caver's motto, adding, "We are trying to teach respectful caving."

Indiana Daily Student
http://www.idsnews.com/subsite/story.ph ... did=campus
http://www.flickr.com/groups/cavers CAVERS, CAVES & CAVING PHOTOS
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