The Publishing of Cave Locations....

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The Publishing of Cave Locations....

Postby MUD » Oct 7, 2007 11:26 am

I'd like to hear from cavers and their thoughts on the publication of caves in county survey bulletins.

In the Mid Appalachian Region of the NSS county bulletins are produced that give detailed descriptions and maps of caves includin' their location.

The problem I see is these bulletins often somehow end up in librarys and novice hands. Not a good thing! Also, I've talked with several landowners who tell me if their cave is listed in a publication without their approval they will CLOSE the cave! I'm willin' to bet most people who work on these bulletins never tell the landowner their goin' to publish the cave in a book that darn near anyone can get a hold of! With that bein' said....I'm against them! While they are nice fer cavers....they're not so nice fer the caves! Any thoughts???
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Postby tncaver » Oct 7, 2007 2:41 pm

Roger that Cavemud. The problem of state cave survey data getting
into wrong hands becomes a bigger problem every year.
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Postby wyandottecaver » Oct 9, 2007 8:26 pm

seems like a logical solution would be a guidebook concept where the cave map and description is published but no location or direction information beyond the county level.

Although many will disagree, I think maps and descriptions should be easily available as many people get into trouble by not knowing what they are in for. This is separate from giving actual location information.

Natural heritage database (rare species) is often handled by giving county level data only. persons needing actual locations have to make their case to the keepers of the data.
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Postby tncaver » Oct 9, 2007 8:51 pm

:hairpull: I can only speak concerning the Tennessee Cave Survey
as that is the only state survey I'm a member of.
It appears that TCS data has been acquired by state officials and
private conservation agencies and possibly due to members in the
state survey. The information appears to be compromised by these
agencies.
The TCS has allowed
members of the Nature Conservancy into it's ranks as well as many
state employees. I can only speculate that these agencies (private
and state) are getting their information from the TCS either by vote
of its members or because the agencies have members in the state
survey that may be providing information to these agencies without
the vote of the TCS members. TCS informaton is copyrighted and is
not supposed to be given out without a vote by the members of the survey.
However, there are government agencies and private conservancies
that are acquiring and/or gating caves at a rapid rate in Tennessee
right now and appear to have prior knowledge of the locations of
these caves. Coincidence? I think not. Just my opinion of course.
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Postby wyandottecaver » Oct 9, 2007 9:04 pm

I'm sure thats a situation repeated many places. I am a member, and county director of my own state survey with full access to our statewide data. I have also been employed by both State natural resource and Federal Agencies. In my case, I chose to differentiate between information available to me in my professional vs personal life. (often going both ways!) I was often asked by agencies for information I knew,but did not provide. I typically either referred them to the survey for a official request or more frequently gave them the answer they needed without providing specific data, i.e. "building a lodge there would probably be a bad idea from a karst impact standpoint"
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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Postby tncaver » Oct 9, 2007 9:16 pm

wyandottecaver,
It is likely you have more scruples, discipline, and professionalism
than TCS officers/members. Just my opinion of course.
:goodjob:
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Postby John Lovaas » Oct 9, 2007 9:46 pm

Cavemud-

I've seen historical cave bulletins that contain location information, but I've never seen a contemporary cave bulletin that contained detailed location information. There might be a spot marked on a small locator map, but that's it. When were these questionable bulletins published?

If a state or regional survey has violated a landowner's wishes, I suggest you contact each board member of the survey ASAP.

And on to tncaver-

tncaver wrote:...there are government agencies and private conservancies that are acquiring and/or gating caves at a rapid rate in Tennessee right now and appear to have prior knowledge of the locations of
these caves. Coincidence? I think not. Just my opinion of course.


Of course, they could get their information from the landowners, from the hundreds of karst researchers in the TAG region or- God Forbid!- from TAG cavers that you don't know or socialize with! The Horror. ;-)

And as to government agencies and private conservancies gating caves- so what? Ask them for a key. Ask them how you can help them and the cave resource. Do something for the cave.

Asking for a key to a gate is a bit like asking a woman out for a date. It ain't rocket science.

Of course, if people visit a cave without knowing or caring who owns it, and whether they even have permission to be there, then a gate would be a huge bummer. The lock on the front door of my house is a huge bummer for the errant burglar who'd like to pick up a few guitars for free.
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Postby tropicalbats » Oct 10, 2007 12:13 am

TCS informaton is copyrighted and is
not supposed to be given out without a vote by the members of the survey.
However, there are government agencies and private conservancies
that are acquiring and/or gating caves at a rapid rate in Tennessee
right now and appear to have prior knowledge of the locations of
these caves. Coincidence? I think not. Just my opinion of course.


Anonymous poster,

Um, the gov't and conservancies protecting/conserving caves bothers you?

I'm not sure that arguing for less cave protection is gonna fly. Cavers have spent years trying to get recognition that caves are unique, fragile, and for some, full of critters that need the caves to survive.

Seems like the system is working, not failing.

Not trying to suggest an "ends justifies the means" argument, as I have no idea how TN caves are chosen for conservation, but I do suspect that most significant caves in TN are pretty well-known without the need for the TCS to be leaking locations.

Keith
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Postby MUD » Oct 10, 2007 7:41 am

Every bulletin I've seen published by the MAR has detailed descriptions of cave locations! :doh: While I love these bulletins, they are not good for the caves OR the landowners! I opted out of puttin' together guidebooks because of the location information. I'm wonderin'....how many of you out there who help put these together get approval from the landowner? I've done a little research on this and 95 % of the landowners I've talked to have NO KNOWLEDGE of their cave bein' published in a bulletin that's for sale to just about anyone! That's just WRONG!!! :hairpull:

Soooo....all you bulletin publishers out there....keep the landowners informed of what you are workin' on so we don't get more cave closures!
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Postby tncaver » Oct 10, 2007 7:48 am

Yes, some government agencies and conservancies bother me.
The Nature Conservancy and some Forestry Departments are
gating caves rapidly in Tennessee. Getting access to these
caves is almost impossible, even for qualified cavers. It seems that only
those that help build the gates get access. In many cases access
is completely denied even to the gate builders. We are talking about thousands of acres of land full of caves that are being "acquired". These caves are being protected "from" cavers rather than "for" cavers. Protection without visitation is not what "caving" is all about. Caving is
not about big brother tactics. Caving is about recreation, learning
(scientific and otherwise), and enjoying the underground. None
of that is possible if the underground is off limits. Conservation
and caving can go hand in hand, but lately caving has been taking
a huge hit.

There is an organization I do support even though it does put some
gates on caves. The Southeast Cave Conservancy Inc. (SCCi). This organization stresses protection and visitation. A good balance of both.
They also provide insurance for property owners when there are lease
agreements. Of course there are restrictions to access but access is
still a major reason for that organization's existence.
However, all this could change if too many members of the
"other" organizations get elected as SCCi officers. If that should happen
it would not surprise me to see a shift from access to total lockout
of cavers.
If that should ever happen then I will no longer support the SCCi in
print or any other way. I just hope that never happens. It would be
wise for the SCCi to include restriction against total lockout in their
bylaws.

Lots of people on this website have anonymous log on names. That way people can say what they really think without being harassed on a daily basis by others who do not agree with them. It is not important who people are, so much as what they have to say.
I am not against protecting caves but I am against locking everyone
out of caves. I also am not saying that conservation organizations are
all bad.
They do good things too, like cave and watershed cleanups. Highly
admirable. And no gating is required to do those things. I object
when gates are applied with the intention of keeping everyone out
all the time. Some of the caves that have been gated are natural
museums. Museums are made to be seen and enjoyed. Museums
serve the purpose of education and entertainment. Just like caving.
But neither is possible if the doors are locked all the time.
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Postby wyandottecaver » Oct 10, 2007 3:34 pm

speaking from experiance, State and Federal agencies as well as very large organizations are hampered by the fact that 1 idiot put in charge for even a short time (like a govenor or presidential term) can have dramatic impacts. On the other hand, most individuals or small groups can't retain enough solvency and consistency to keep areas protected in the long term against the wallmarts. My experiance is that mid-sized conservancies are the best landowners in terms of caver interests. I should say that there ARE caves where no recreational access may be warranted, but these are generally quite rare, and many agencecies just assume the only "safe" cave is a gated cave.
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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Postby boogercaver71 » Oct 10, 2007 8:53 pm

Our grotto has hosted several regionals (MVORs) since 1998, and our policy in our guidebooks is to publish the maps and descriptions but not the locations (except for what county there in). This is our policy in any of our publications. We only give locations to to qualified cavers we know. Of course many topo maps have some cave locations already marked. My personal view is all caves on public land should be open for exploration. As a taxpayer, I believe these caves belong to me as well as the privileged few who get to map and explore them. As in all life, a cave begins to die the day it is born. The argument that some cave need to be saved for future generations is hogwash. Any cave whether visited by man or not will someday cease to exsist. Lets enjoy them while they are here and teach others to respect them as well.
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Postby boogercaver71 » Oct 10, 2007 8:53 pm

Our grotto has hosted several regionals (MVORs) since 1998, and our policy in our guidebooks is to publish the maps and descriptions but not the locations (except for what county there in). This is our policy in any of our publications. We only give locations to to qualified cavers we know. Of course many topo maps have some cave locations already marked. My personal view is all caves on public land should be open for exploration. As a taxpayer, I believe these caves belong to me as well as the privileged few who get to map and explore them. As in all life, a cave begins to die the day it is born. The argument that some cave need to be saved for future generations is hogwash. Any cave whether visited by man or not will someday cease to exsist. Lets enjoy them while they are here and teach others to respect them as well.
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Postby John Lovaas » Oct 10, 2007 10:51 pm

tncaver wrote:The Nature Conservancy and some Forestry Departments are
gating caves rapidly in Tennessee.


I know I asked you this a while back, but could you give ONE verifable example? Thanks.
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Postby John Lovaas » Oct 10, 2007 11:11 pm

boogercaver71 wrote:My personal view is all caves on public land should be open for exploration....


I don't see how paying taxes gives me the right or competency to go into a cave wherever I want, whenever I want. You seem to be implying that paying taxes gives one the common sense to cave responsibly. That can't be the case, yes?

boogercaver71 wrote:As a taxpayer, I believe these caves belong to me as well as the privileged few who get to map and explore them.


Well, the caves don't belong to the "privileged few". The "privileged few"- who are ordinary f***ing cavers like you and me- are simply Being Useful. Doing something for the cave.

I don't believe public lands "belong to me" for my unfettered use, no more than the US Armed Forces "belong" to me, or that I "own" the White House, and so can use the crapper there whenever I want. The Tasers would be deployed in a nanosecond.

boogercaver71 wrote:As in all life, a cave begins to die the day it is born.... Any cave whether visited by man or not will someday cease to exsist(sic)


Well, I did hear something like that first line(The cause of Death is Birth) at a Buddhist memorial service a while back, but I don't think that's where you are coming from.

If you really think we can do as we please as cavers because a cave might cease to exist in hundreds of thousands or millions of years, then you are presenting a most nihilistic view. I hope that isn't the case.
Last edited by John Lovaas on Oct 10, 2007 11:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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