Cave Gating Workshop

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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby tncaver » Aug 21, 2009 8:13 pm

Thank you Andy. The purpose of the NSS number brag was to make a point that it doesn't matter what someone's number
OR name is. However, I do think that someone's number does reflect to some extent, their years of experience, which
should count for something. And I spared you all the humiliating fact that mine is the lowest. HAR, HAR. However, there are lots of newer members who have a lot of experience also. I like to hear everyone's opinions regardless. I will say this. There is a lot of crap going on behind the scenes that most cavers don't know about. Many of the BNCs (Big Name Cavers) are the ones who break all the rules, yet still get all the awards and honors. Some make their living gating caves. Go figure.
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby Elvis » Aug 21, 2009 11:15 pm

Holt guacamole batman! I was just throwing in from a local perspective! For what its worth, virtually anyone in the caving community across the country who knows me, knows me first as Elvis, and so do all the carpenters and various tradespeople that have been working with me for the last 17 years. And also for what its worth, I know all of you who have thus replied, by your real names, and we each have had some sort of encounter over the years. I have no problem with aliases, if you'll just check my post, and I am referring specifically to the Utah posts on another thread, if YOU ARE GOING TO RANT, identify yourself. If its just the equivalent of campfire talk, I have no problem with aliases. You gonna take a stand and maybe stir it up, man up and identify. Helps with the credibility, like Andy says, and whatever with the TOsS,or TOs ,or whatever thing. That's why we pay Jansen for this stuff.

So back on topic, more or less. Cave gating is a reality. They're gonna do this Cliff Cave gate, regardless of what we say. And next year, some cave in TN, AL, OR or wherever is gonna get a gate, and they're gonna have a workshop, and BCI or ACCA or whomever, and Jerry Fant or Kristin Bobo or whomever is gonna be involved. So gate the cave or not?? That's the question. AndI'll just throw this in to get the blood temperature up. There's people out here in the state of Misery (Missouri for the uninitiated) who have bought houses in a new subdivision that mowed down real green space, and the bit**** about the new subdivision next door that is going to mow down green space. And my reply is always, if you don't like it, then BUY it and you can do whatever you want with it. Same with caves. You don't like whats up, be Dick Blenz or join the SCCI or any of the other organizations and BUY it.

My point here is that the St. Louis County Parks Department has a cave. They have to do SOMETHING to manage the cave. Would you rather they throw up some cheap chain link fence gate (that they have had since 1993) that is totally ineffective for whatever purposes they have in mind, save for the ability to say "Duh, the cave is closed, didn't you see the gate, so that's why you are going to jail" (which has happened!) or would you rather have real cave-interested people like BCI, ACCA, Bill Elliot, Jerry Fant, and all the rest giving some real caver input.

The Meramec Valley Groto is attempting to put up or shut up. We'll see how that turns out. We'd be much interested in all of your suggestions or experiences in this regards, since we comitted to proposing a management plan, which will involve us actually putting oujr time where our mouth is.

So, helpful comments?
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby wyandottecaver » Aug 22, 2009 2:18 am

well a couple.
first, remember that any deal you may or may not make today with the agency might be just another piece of worthless paper tommorrow when the next guy gets hired into those positions.

It is always better to have a built in access plan for joe cavers even if it is limited. The argument is that most people will expend less effort to break into a cave if they can see it legitimately even if only on a restricted basis. one thing I have seen are "educational" trips where cavers did education trips 1 or twice a year.

The second is the "rescue" trip. i.e. a yearly trip is made to 1) familiarize people with the cave and 2) maintain a rescue stash (might just be a ammo can of supplies) in case of emergency. #2 is used in an indiana State Park cave that can flood and is to my knowledge only visited 1/yr to replentish the stash. The argument being that even gates can be breached or new entrances dug and its better to have somebody alive to arrest than dead to bury.

Finally is the money angle. dunno the particulars of this cave but if the grotto could wrangle a deal where they provided volunteer trip leaders a few times a year who led paid trips (park permits?) into the cave that made the park folks money they might like it. Again an argument being that regular legitimate traffic considering weather and bat issues is in fact a very effective vandalisim deterrent itself.

yes, the ACCA and BCI do gating workshops regularly because the feds pay them and it plays well with their non caving bat hugging donors. I refuse to join either group because of that. Some very few caves need gates....but lots of people need gate building money.
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby Ron Fulcher » Aug 22, 2009 8:35 pm

The continued practice of gating of caves while ignoring the abundant evidence of their adverse affect on caves is a travesty. Their may even be instances where protecting a cave dwelling population and encouraging its expansion may lead to the reintroduction of diseases that have been lying dormant. There are some who now think that this is where and how WNS actually came to be reintroduced to the bat populations. Where many are searching for an outside culprit, the reality may be that it was here all the time and just one of the ways that nature controls these wild populations.Using WNS or single species arguments for gating caves or fund raising should be viewed with great skepticism. The need for cave gates are few while the reasons against their construction are many.

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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby NZcaver » Aug 22, 2009 10:15 pm

Ron Fulcher wrote:The continued practice of gating of caves while ignoring the abundant evidence of their adverse affect on caves is a travesty. Their may even be instances where protecting a cave dwelling population and encouraging its expansion may lead to the reintroduction of diseases that have been lying dormant. There are some who now think that this is where and how WNS actually came to be reintroduced to the bat populations.

Off-topic a bit here, but would you care to share your source for that tidbit of information?

I'm not dismissing the idea. I'm just curious to learn more about how gating to protect a cave species has led to the "reintroduction" of WNS.
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby caveparrott » Aug 24, 2009 12:35 am

Cave gates are now a part of our reality. And have been for over 30+ years now. And I would suspect that they will continue to become an increasing sight. Now if we as cavers adhered to the rules and stay out of caves at a time when the bats were present, then there would be no reason to gate a cave. But it's not always the cavers. It is the spelunkers. The ones that live down the road and want to "go have fun and kills me some bats!" Because that is pretty much what happened at Laurel Cave at Carter Cave State Park. And it was not one incident, it was two that created the closure. And Carter Caves State Park has to take some of the responsibility, it was "the sacrificial cave". A sacrificial cave with about 3500 hibernating Indiana bats.

Cavers can be and are responsible. But what about the "renegade". The one that thinks the rules don't apply to them. Be pissed at them for getting caves gated; Be pissed at the spelunker, they help get the caves closed; Be pissed at the pot hunters that are digging up artifacts. And if you do it in Christian County, Kentucky, you might dig a trench deep enough that it collapses on you and you die, because that happened too. Be pissed at these people, the ones that don't follow the rules.

The reasons that cave gate workshops are being conducted is not simply close a cave, it's to try to keep everyone up to date on the newest technology. Things change over the years. It's discouraging when you get a phone call from someone that is asking about how to take care of a problem with a gate they just built. Then,you get the description and it's a 30 year old gate design they are using.

Workshops are to teach people the best way to go about gate installation. And yes, it does cost to put these workshops on. It's easy to rundown someone or some agency,instead of trying to teach others to do the right thing and just stay out of the caves when bats are using them, hibernation or maternity. Cave gates are a necessary evil. We would like to build less and less. Unfortunately, until there is another way to protect the resources of the caves, cave gates will always be.

I have to listen talk about the Always Closing Caves Association. Why don't you look at who it is that is getting caves closed, those that can't abide to the rules. The American Cave Conservation Association, the real ACCA, does not have the power to "close" a cave, we only provide a service. We have been given too much power over the years by those that think this. :bat sticker:
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby ArCaver » Aug 24, 2009 7:09 am

caveparrott wrote:Cave gates are now a part of our reality. And have been for over 30+ years now. And I would suspect that they will continue to become an increasing sight. Now if we as cavers adhered to the rules and stay out of caves at a time when the bats were present, then there would be no reason to gate a cave. But it's not always the cavers. It is the spelunkers. The ones that live down the road and want to "go have fun and kills me some bats!" Because that is pretty much what happened at Laurel Cave at Carter Cave State Park. And it was not one incident, it was two that created the closure. And Carter Caves State Park has to take some of the responsibility, it was "the sacrificial cave". A sacrificial cave with about 3500 hibernating Indiana bats.

Cavers can be and are responsible. But what about the "renegade". The one that thinks the rules don't apply to them. Be pissed at them for getting caves gated; Be pissed at the spelunker, they help get the caves closed; Be pissed at the pot hunters that are digging up artifacts. And if you do it in Christian County, Kentucky, you might dig a trench deep enough that it collapses on you and you die, because that happened too. Be pissed at these people, the ones that don't follow the rules.

The reasons that cave gate workshops are being conducted is not simply close a cave, it's to try to keep everyone up to date on the newest technology. Things change over the years. It's discouraging when you get a phone call from someone that is asking about how to take care of a problem with a gate they just built. Then,you get the description and it's a 30 year old gate design they are using.

Workshops are to teach people the best way to go about gate installation. And yes, it does cost to put these workshops on. It's easy to rundown someone or some agency,instead of trying to teach others to do the right thing and just stay out of the caves when bats are using them, hibernation or maternity. Cave gates are a necessary evil. We would like to build less and less. Unfortunately, until there is another way to protect the resources of the caves, cave gates will always be.

I have to listen talk about the Always Closing Caves Association. Why don't you look at who it is that is getting caves closed, those that can't abide to the rules. The American Cave Conservation Association, the real ACCA, does not have the power to "close" a cave, we only provide a service. We have been given too much power over the years by those that think this. :bat sticker:


Not all cave gates are for bat protection. It galls me every time I hear of USFWS providing funds to gate a cave without significant biological content. If law enforcement and the courts would get serious about cave vandals, pot hunters and the sick minded individuals killing bats then gates might be less necessary. I happen to think the entrance of a cave can be as Aesthetically pleasing as the interior and many of the gates I've seen are little more than vandalism. As ugly as spray paint and often as damaging.
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby caveparrott » Aug 24, 2009 2:53 pm

Not all cave gates are for bat protection. It galls me every time I hear of USFWS providing funds to gate a cave without significant biological content. If law enforcement and the courts would get serious about cave vandals, pot hunters and the sick minded individuals killing bats then gates might be less necessary. I happen to think the entrance of a cave can be as Aesthetically pleasing as the interior and many of the gates I've seen are little more than vandalism. As ugly as spray paint and often as damaging.


Well I can't speak for USFWS. But if an endangered species is in a cave, significant or not, it needs to be protected. But law enforcement does not see it a huge deal that someone is going in an vandalizing a cave. The penalty is never severe enough to discourage it from happening again, and it's a hard crime to prosecute...unless someone is actually "caught in the act".

Some gates are unsightly, it can't always be helped. Sometimes gate placement to keep the correct amount of airflow is where the gate is seen. Unfortunately.
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby wyandottecaver » Aug 25, 2009 7:11 pm

caveparrott,

your a great guy and I'm not knocking you personally, but when it comes to gates and your employer the ACCA "we are on parallel lines that will never again intersect" (Ray Stevens) :big grin:

lots of things like rap music, gay marriage, and abortion are "part of our reality". That in and of itself isn't an argument that they are valid practices (or not). They are all supported or opposed by people with various degrees of intensity for various reasons...any of which may or may not be related to the truth.

The issue is what level and frequency of gating is prudent or desirable and for what reasons. Gates are never necessary, they are sometimes prudent, frequently helpful to a narrow interest, and often over used.

It is certainly desirable to have people build "good" gates vs "bad" gates but if various special interest organizations didn't raise or give them money in the first place far far fewer would get built at all. Grottos often fund gates on private or public land...in exchange for access rights. Many have come to regret it later.

If a private entity or person chooses to gate a cave I view it the same as any other land practice that can be either prudent or disasterous depending on the situation and implementation. The original NSS gate of Shelta is an example of good intentions gone bad. We are 30 years ahead and maybe not making the same mistakes but what about new ones? Public cave gates add in the factor of depriving the public access to a public resource. Sometimes this is needed....sometimes. Unfortunately we are in the midst of a cave gate craze to slap a gate on at the slightest cause and some organizations are making money doing it. (not just the ACCA)

"people not following the rules" is an easy out for those wanting to co-opt control and monopolize resources because there will always be some rule breakers somewhere to justify their actions. The issue rarely addressed is whether the actual as opposed to theoretical threat matches the response and do the impacts on other organisims and users justify the benefits. If you stop 2 winter visits by 2 people over 2 years to a mediocre bat cave but also permanently exclude species like owls (natural predators), and turkey vultures (cave nesters) from a resource they too need and removed that cave from recreational visitation by those who appreciate the resource have you really acted responsibly? What will we think 30 years from now looking back? oops?

As I said, gates aren't about rule breakers, otherwise most cavers who followed the rules would get access...(this does happen sometimes but is an exception overall) gates are about letting a few people control a resource for their own individual or organizational purposes. Did they gate the cave where your pot hunter died? I don't think so...

They also aren't necessary to protect the resource in many cases. Most of these caves have been ungated in the presence of people for a loooongg time. The world didn't end. Bats still fly. Artifacts outside of known grave sites are really only valuable to archeologists or collectors and then only when they...wait for it...dig them up. In context of course :tonguecheek: There are also lots of factors that kill lots of bats besides disturbance of caves..The really irresponsible people are those living in single dwelling homes, using wind power, eating commercial food crops, and driving at night on rural roads near water. But gating caves is an easy feel good distraction from the true causes of decline.

We can agree to disagree about Laurel, but there certainly was not a history of vandalisim or bat killing by people there. If the regular human traffic caused some bats to seek a quieter cave...all the better since an excellent *safe* hibernacula exists virtually next door.(several actually) I went on winter tours of Laurel before the hoopla and I thought then that those bats must be underweight seeking extra cold conditions and gambling on a dangerous roost or maybe just the duller crayons... IMHO the Laurel gate is a *feel good* gate born of publicity over an isolated problem. If a few hundred bats die every 20 years because a scout group goes postal thats bad. But is that worse than drowning several thousand "naturally" ? As Archie Bunker said of victims of handgun violence, if you dont like guns would you prefer they got thrown out of windows? Dead is still dead.

The ACCA aren't the only folks gating caves by a long shot, but don't hide behind "a service".

An addict needs a pusher....A gate doesn't get built without money. (the ACCA along with others raise money through grants and donations) It never gets built without labour (again the ACCA and others facilitate recruitment of volunteers or paid staff) It rarely gets built on public land without "experts". (which the ACCA provides and/or trains.) and if cave gates are portrayed to the public and landowners as you say... " a necessary evil" or even worse as the only solution... "Unfortunately, until there is another way to protect the resources of the caves, cave gates will always be." And if completed gates (and to be fair cleaned up sinkholes) are splashed across newsletters to let members and donors know how their money is protecting bats (and implying they should keep sending it to protect more bats in similar manner) then guess what? more caves will get gated directly because of the ACCA whether or not they themselves actually "closed" them.

I simply don't think the ACCA cares, because I don't think most of their revenue is from active wild cavers. The ACCA (and BCI) will make money even after every wild cave is gated and they will make money in the meantime helping put those gates there.
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby onebat » Aug 26, 2009 9:30 am

Wyandottecaver...I couldn't have said it better. I think your post touched on a lot of truths, IMHO. Cavers need to understand what is really going on. I won't elaborate. I think you said it all. Great post.
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby MUD » Aug 26, 2009 12:16 pm

Yes wyandottecaver! Great post. :clap: Some caves do need gates....most do not. I believe it to be most associated with "control", wether it's from the landowner, or cavers. I say this as I look at my key ring with several keys for gated caves. Yes, there are bats in a few. There are formations in all. And then there's the liability concerned landowner. I can say I've never been involved with a gate without direct landowner involvement. All the keys I have are to caves that were dug open. I've never been involved with the gating of a natural entrance...nor do I wish to be. I do not like gates....but, if the landowner says, "gate it or I'll close the cave!"....I'll gate it.
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby tncaver » Aug 26, 2009 12:35 pm

Well said also, Cavemud. I'm only fortunate enough to own one gate key to a cove with some caves. However, I have developed excellent land onwer relations with the owner of another cove. No gate key required there but he does not like tresspassers
and is becoming fed up with both hunters and cavers who have been trespassing on his land.

I know some cavers who recently dug open a cave and gated it at landowner request as well. That has worked out very well
for them. But the one person I know with the most gate keys, is the most notorius cave gater in Tennessee. :doh:

Cavemud wrote:Yes wyandottecaver! Great post. :clap: Some caves do need gates....most do not. I believe it to be most associated with "control", wether it's from the landowner, or cavers. I say this as I look at my key ring with several keys for gated caves. Yes, there are bats in a few. There are formations in all. And then there's the liability concerned landowner. I can say I've never been involved with a gate without direct landowner involvement. All the keys I have are to caves that were dug open. I've never been involved with the gating of a natural entrance...nor do I wish to be. I do not like gates....but, if the landowner says, "gate it or I'll close the cave!"....I'll gate it.
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby wyandottecaver » Aug 26, 2009 1:02 pm

certainly landowner wishes are important. But I think too many times we help the landowner along towards gate building or dont even try to make a case against a gate. In most cases posted land is enough to protect a landowner from liability with respect to natural hazards as long as he doesnt "entice" people there or profit from them. If a history of tresspassing exists then a gate is just 1 option out of many. Most private gates put up by cavers are about ego, not the cave. just remember that people die, land gets sold, and the keys you have today might not be worth spit tommorrow. Deciding to gate a cave is like deciding to have kids....do it rarely if at all and think carefully for the long term or you and the rest of us may regret it!
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby Phil Winkler » Aug 26, 2009 1:12 pm

Years ago the Bexar Grotto in San Antonio was asked to gate a cave where a young man had just died trying to lower himself into the entrance pit. At that time (1973/74?) the owners were worried about a wrongful death suit or being sued for maintaining an attractive nuisance, etc. There have been many law suits just like this. We got a local iron company to donate the materials and welded the gate on Ft Sam at the Craft Shop at little cost. I think the grotto may have a key, but I suspect the pit/cave was simply ignored from then on. This was not a bat cave, but is not too far from Bracken Bat Cave.

I agree that cave gating should be carefully considered. Even though Glory Hole in GA has been gated since the 60s or early 70s some caver/vandal broke off and took the long crystal from way back in the cave. Only bona fide cavers got access, too.
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Re: Cave Gating Workshop

Postby MUD » Aug 26, 2009 3:48 pm

wyandottecaver wrote:Deciding to gate a cave is like deciding to have kids....do it rarely if at all and think carefully for the long term or you and the rest of us may regret it!


I have 4 beautiful children. I'd never ask for better as they're as good as they come. Other people enjoy them also....and I would say because of their upbringing. :grin:

I also have keys to as many gated caves. No one's ever been hurt in them or tried to sue the landowner. No dead bats or broken formations...a trail on the floor in one place, not several. If these caves weren't properly managed, this would not be the case. Sadly, the gate is a part of that management. But only a small part. None of these caves have an open access policy...in other words, you're pretty much on a guided trip thru the caves. None of that, "...here's the key y'all, be sure and lock-up and bring it back when your done" sort of thing. That's how alot of caves get trashed. Careless cavers. I've seen it happen many times, a cave is opened up by cavers, gated by cavers, access is controlled by cavers and guess what? The cave ends up looking like a hurricane went thru it! :shrug: Sad. Very sad. :down:

I guess what I'm saying is....a gate is only as good as it's managers! The best gate in the world helps nothing without proper management of what's being gated. :bat sticker:
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