Cave Conservation Cafe Invitation

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Cave Conservation Cafe Invitation

Postby Gordon Birkhimer » Oct 17, 2007 7:37 pm

I would like to announce the NSS Participation at the Cave Conservation Cafe - Held in Washington, D.C. on October 23, 2007. If you are in the area please consider attending. I introduced a motion that passed to donate $1,500.00 to the following effort and I will share the following information:

Thanks for talking with me this afternoon! Here is the information
about the upcoming event that will be hosted by the U.S. Forest Service
in Washington D.C. on October 23rd from 10:30 - 12:30. We will be
hosting a cave conservation and awareness program, and we would like to
invite the NSS to participate and help us extend our reach. Our goal is
to bring together an energetic group of stakeholders from various
Federal agencies, policy makers, nonprofit organizations, and other
organizations who will share a sustained common interest in conserving
caves and karst resources.

This event will include a showing of the Forest Service's film,
"Caves:Life Beneath the Forest," discussions on cave conservation
nationally, as well as a panel of cave conservation specialist. I am
including a draft preliminary schedule at the end of this e-mail for
your review.

I'd like to discuss ways to get the NSS involved in this important
event, as well brainstorm other agencies and individuals that should be
included.

This is a great opportunity to bring caves to the forefront of our
nation's mind and we need your help to make it a success. Please feel
free to contact me via e-mail or by phone at 812-277-3582. I look
forward to discussing this exciting opportunity with you.

Cave Conservation Cafe Draft Agenda (subject to revision):
October 23, 2007
USDA, Jefferson Auditorium
10:30 - 12:30

Preliminary Schedule

10:30 - 10:45 Introduction - The Honorable Rick Boucher
10:45 - 11:00 Federal Cave Resources Protection Act - The Honorable Tom Dashle
11:00 - 11:15 Cave Conservation - Mr. Jerry Trout, National
Coordinator for Cave Resources, USFS
11:15 - 11:45 showing of "Caves: Life beneath the Forest Floor"
11:45 - 12:20 Cave Panel (panel should consists of five people from
different agencies i.e. US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service,
Bureau of Land Management, The Nature Conservancy, the National
Speleological Society) 12:20 - 12:30 Wrap Up - Caves Into the Future -
Cindy Sandeno, Hoosier National Forest 12:30 Lunch

Gordon
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Postby tncaver » Oct 17, 2007 7:53 pm

I hope this isn't a huge think tank to find more caves to gate in the
name of conservation.

Gordon wrote:
"This is a great opportunity to bring caves to the forefront of our
nation's mind."

Some of us don't want to bring caves to the forefront of our nations
mind. And some of us don't want all the best caves in America
gated with little or no access for the people who have discovered,
surveyed, and explored the caves of this nation. And we want our
children to be able to visit these caves in the future without having
to be a Biologist, Hydrologist, Speleologist etc. etc.

Just my opinion of course. But that is the way this someone feels
about it.

Sounds like our government is taking aim on the caves of our nation
in the name of conservation. Which would be a great thing unless it
means gating off the best caves with hugely restricted access in the
name of conservation. I've already had enough of that going on here
in the Southeast.

Gordon, could you be more specific about what this big gathering
is going to be about?
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Postby Dane » Oct 18, 2007 4:28 am

TnCaver - While I appreciate your concerns over this, my immediate thoughts are that this will be focused on caves already under federal jurisdiction. I would think we would WANT to be involved in such discussions!
The NSS should be involved to not only to prevent the type of knee-jerk reaction you envision, but to help guide sensible cave conservation and management practices now and in the future.
This is exactly the kind of activity I want our organization to be involved in. While I do not doubt there are knowledgeable individuals in the USFS, BLM, USF&W, etc, I do not think they have the depth of knowledge or experience that the NSS possesses.
I'm not sure what can be accomplished in 90 mins, especially in such a bureaucratic environment, but if we aren't represented at the get-go, it often precludes an invitation to future discussions.
Honestly, if the NSS does not represent us in this type of dialog, what is their function?
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Postby batrotter » Oct 18, 2007 5:42 am

tncaver wrote:
"Some of us don't want to bring caves to the forefront of our nations
mind. And some of us don't want all the best caves in America
gated with little or no access for the people who have discovered,
surveyed, and explored the caves of this nation."

I agree with tncaver. My point has to do with state owned caves rather than federally owned caves. Caves on state property in Indiana require a permit to enter. This has to do with our DNR Law Enforcement Division. They created this division and then needed something for these guys to do with their military style weapons. So they require a permit, which is nothing more than a way to hassle cavers and to enhance revenue if you don't have a permit. This same law enforcement division also formed their own cave rescue group. Now tell me, what kind of experience to do these guys have in cave rescue? They are not regular cavers.
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Postby tncaver » Oct 18, 2007 5:56 am

Dane,
I agree with you 100% that the NSS should have a representative
at this meeting. And I am hoping that this meeting is concerning
Federally owned caves only. I am concerned however, that this
meeting may also be concerned about private owned caves with
the intention of using the Landowner Incentive Program to encourage private landowners to gate specific caves in the name of conservation. I say this because the Nature Conservancy has also been invited and they have posted on their website that the government (which means taxpayer money) is offering these funds for the purpose of "protecting" private owned caves. "Protecting" caves is synonymous with gating caves. And just who are these caves going to be protected from?

You may think my statement was a knee jerk reaction but my statement
was meant to be a wake up call for cavers all across the US to pay
close attention to this meeting for the purpose of finding out what the
purpose of it is. I am also concerned by the following statement,
"This is a great opportunity to bring caves to the forefront of our
nation's mind".
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Postby tncaver » Oct 18, 2007 5:59 am

Pardon my ignorance. What is the DNR Law?
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Postby Dane » Oct 18, 2007 7:03 am

Dept of Natural Resources - local, state agency.

The thing is, who represents us if not the NSS?
Regardless of the agenda or the jurisdiction, the NSS will have a much greater impact than an individual or group of individuals - is that not why we are members?
Is this very issue, regardless of the specifics, not the reason we belong to and support the NSS?

I understand your concerns and know that you have some evidence to support your views - you have posted on this subject previously - but it seems that this, NSS invitation and involvement, would be a good thing, not a bad one.

I would have thought this had the potential to support and protect your very viewpoint.
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Postby tncaver » Oct 18, 2007 8:20 am

Dane stated:
"I understand your concerns and know that you have some evidence to support your views - you have posted on this subject previously - but it seems that this, NSS invitation and involvement, would be a good thing, not a bad one. "

Dane, I AM glad the NSS has been invited to to participate in this meeting.
Whether the results of the meeting will be good or bad remains to be seen.
Regardless, I feel it is important to have an NSS officer attend the meeting if possible. I hope the NSS will do so, even though as I understand,
there is a considerable fee involved.
Perhaps the NSS will cover that expense for the NSS President or one of
our trusted officers. That would certainly seem like a sensible thing to do.
NSS input will hopefully be a good thing and I'm sure the members of the
NSS would like to have a first hand report from any NSS member who might attend this meeting.

My statements serve the purpose to catch the attention of cavers whether
they are NSS members or not. As this forum has a nation wide reader
base, I consider this the best place to encourage all cavers to have an
interest in this meeting of government and private organizations who
could very well have a dramatic influence on caving in the US in the
near future. This meeting also involves taxpayer money which should
concern all citizens of this country.
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Postby Phil Winkler » Oct 18, 2007 9:30 am

10:45 - 11:00 Federal Cave Resources Protection Act - The Honorable Tom Dashle

Tom Dashle was the sponsor of the FCPRA back in 1986 or 1987. Several NSS members including Paul Stevens and Janet Thorne testified at the hearing for the bill. It was quite something to observe.

The government often works very slowly. What is curious is why this is such a short meeting? And, is Gordon part of it or just announcing it?

Regardless, clearly it is something the NSS wants to be involved with from the beginning.
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Postby tncaver » Oct 18, 2007 9:53 am

Phil,
I agree with what you said.
I would like to point out that this is not a grass roots meeting.
Government activity through the USFS and other government
agencies has already been actively "protecting" caves for quite
awhile. I am more concerned with the statement that they want
to bring caves to the forefront of public awareness. Doing so
seems to attract vandalism and abuse to caves whose existence
may have been unknown by the public before. Once abuse occurs
then government and private conservation agencies use that as
an excuse to "protect" the caves they have targeted.
The general public does not seek out caves. Once the general
public learns about caves in a specific area, then vandalism is
most likely to occur. This is another example of government
creating a purpose for it's existence.
I am also concerned by the government program called the
Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) which subsidizes clean ups and
gates for caves that are considered important to the local watersheds.
I can think of almost no caves that aren't important to the
local watersheds in karst terrain. I'm all for the clean ups. But those are frequently followed by gates.
I just want to make it clear here and now that every member of the
NSS is not in favor of conservation without some form of access.
They should work hand in hand, however this does not appear to be
what's happening at an alarming rate here in the Southeast USA.
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Postby NZcaver » Oct 18, 2007 12:04 pm

tncaver wrote:I hope this isn't a huge think tank to find more caves to gate in the name of conservation.

I agree - but I don't think it is. You have made your opposition to cave gating abundantly clear in other threads, and your views are not without some justification.

Some of us don't want to bring caves to the forefront of our nations mind.

With the exception of brief media attention for one cave rescue or another, I highly doubt caves and caving will ever literally be at the forefront of our nations (or any nations) mind. Not like politics, religion, crime, scandal and all the juicy subjects, anyway. My feeling is this is just a catchphrase for trying to raise a little more public awareness of the cave environment. Maybe even help dispel rumors that caves are merely nature's drains and man's garbage disposals, home to some scary evil bats, and an "attractive nuisance" liability that should be sealed up so us and our kids can sleep safer at night.

The general public does not seek out caves. Once the general public learns about caves in a specific area, then vandalism is most likely to occur. This is another example of government creating a purpose for it's existence.

I'm not necessarily saying you're wrong, but can you cite verifiable references for what you claim here? I'd be interested to see evidence of a marked increase in vandalism specifically resulting from raising public education and awareness of caves, whether in one specific area or not. Please note I'm not talking about the publicizing of locations of previously unknown (or secret) caves, which are accessible and unprotected. I doubt that's likely to be part of any responsible public education campaign.

This meeting also involves taxpayer money which should concern all citizens of this country.

And all other legal residents - we pay the same taxes you do.
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Postby tncaver » Oct 18, 2007 12:59 pm

Camps Gulf Cave Tennessee is an example of public knowledge
creating a problem. It remained clean for years. Once it
became a part of a state park and the park began busing in tourists
and advertising caving trips in local publications, the cave began to
show signs of carelessness. Access was basically wide open.
The access road did not have the usual park signs stating that vehicular traffic was prohibited and there was no gate.
The road is now gated and the cave is still open. Tourists are still bused
to a parking area and then hike to the cave.
The good thing about this story is that the cave is still open. I have
heard no report about the present condition of the cave. But I do
remember it being pristine a few years ago before it was acquired by the park and before it was advertised in local media. Hence my concern about bringing caves to the forefront of public knowledge.
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Postby NZcaver » Oct 18, 2007 1:14 pm

So you're saying Camps Gulf Cave has suffered from increased vandalism after becoming an open-access state park? Please define "showing signs of carelessness." Are we just talking about an increase in "normal" cave wear-and-tear through increased visitation, or are you also saying there's been an increase in activity by that tiny but ever-present percentage of the population who somehow find it necessary to commit acts of vandalism?
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Postby JoeyS » Oct 18, 2007 2:45 pm

NZcaver wrote:So you're saying Camps Gulf Cave has suffered from increased vandalism after becoming an open-access state park? Please define "showing signs of carelessness." Are we just talking about an increase in "normal" cave wear-and-tear through increased visitation, or are you also saying there's been an increase in activity by that tiny but ever-present percentage of the population who somehow find it necessary to commit acts of vandalism?


I've been to Camps Gulf Cave 4 times this year. Twice before the road was gated and twice afterwards. I can tell you from my own personal observations that Camps Gulf is in pretty good shape for a publically known cave. Very little vandalism in the cave at all, which is surprising. You can definitely tell that the cave is experiencing heavy traffic, but I've not seen a whole lot of trash and virtually no spraypaint. Someone recently put rock cairns every 10 feet in the big rooms (a bit paranoid about getting lost?), but I happily toppled them all (Mossyguy would approve). Formations such as stalactites and soda straws are rare in CG with exception of the back borehole passage, but most spelunkers never make it that far anyway. So you could argue that CG isn't heavily vandalized by formation thieves simply because there's not much to steal.
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Postby tncaver » Oct 18, 2007 5:06 pm

Very interesting post Joey S. So why did the park gate off the road
into Camps Gulf if everything is so pristine? My brother and I visited
Camps Gulf Gorge before the gate across the road went up. We were commenting about how clean the campsite outside the cave looked.
We also mentioned that the entire Gulch looked very clean.
We did not visit Camps Gulf Cave. We hiked way past it.
So I'm asking, did the Gulf road need to be gated off or was this an
over reaction by our state parks department? And why???
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