Ely, Nevada, has been officially selected for the 2016 NSS Convention
In July of 2016, the western mining community of Ely, Nevada, will experience an exciting population boom when over one thousand cave explorers from across the nation converge on the town to celebrate the 75th anniversary convention of the National Speleological Society. Following a months-long review process, the Board of Governors of the society approved a proposal to bring the event to Ely during their recent meeting in Florida.
Founded in 1941, the NSS is the largest organization in the world dedicated to the exploration, preservation and conservation of caves. Headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, the society's 10,000 members include scientists, cartographers, explorers, and cave enthusiasts from the United States and around the world. The non-profit organization is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has nearly 250 chapters called "grottos" across the country.
"Nevada is honored to have the National Speleological Society celebrate its 75th anniversary in our state," Chris Moran, public relations specialist for the Nevada Commission on Tourism, said. "Our beautiful desert landscape includes the Lehman Caves, among other geological wonders, and we're always excited to share those treasures with visiting groups."
Typical attendance at the week-long NSS conventions ranges between 1,000 and 1,500 participants. However, California-based convention producer Matt Bowers predicts, "a higher than average participation due to the 75th anniversary of the society in 2016." Bowers also plans to develop his marketing strategy to align with two other significant milestones.
Andrew J. Ferguson, superintendent of Nevada's Great Basin National Park explained, "We're particularly excited that the 2016 NSS convention will align with our park's 30th anniversary and also the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. We look forward to sharing these festivities with the 75th anniversary of the NSS in 2016!"
The NSS frequently partners with federal and state agencies on cave resource management issues. Ferguson said, "The park has a long history of effective cooperation with local NSS grottos on numerous recreational and volunteer work projects. It is our intention to support this recent effort and highlight the incredible caves and karst resources of the park and the region."
Internally, the NSS is divided into 15 different sections representing specialty interest areas of the membership. These include the pure sciences like geology, archaeology and biology, but also include a technical search and rescue section, underwater cave diving, and multiple artistic disciplines.
According to NSS board member Peri Frantz, "An NSS convention is a unique event that mixes the robust outdoor activities of cave exploration, field trips, and camping with more sedate intellectual activities such as scientific presentations, workshops and meetings."
Over the past year, Bowers' production team has met with several of Ely's businesses and civic leaders to explore the resources available in the region. He said, "while we haven't locked down our event footprint yet, we're confident that Ely and White Pine County have all the facilities and resources we need to pull this convention together." Bowers' team toured the convention center, fairgrounds and local school facilities last fall and were particularly impressed with the friendly nature of the city and county government.
"The NSS actually prefers to bring our annual conventions to smaller towns," Bowers said. "Not only are they closer to the wilderness areas our members explore, but, quite honestly, it's easier to do business with a community when you don't have to sort through a massive governmental overhead. Whenever I've had questions, I called Meg Rhoades at the convention center or Wayne Cameron at the chamber and they immediately made introductions or referrals."
Even Ely's mayor, John Hickman, has a personal connection to some of the area's caves. Hickman said, "Most people don't realize the number of great caves we have in this area. When you include our ghost towns and other attractions, I'm sure we can make a good time for the NSS convention."
Ely's historic Nevada Northern Railway Museum also served as a significant draw for the society. During a site visit last year, the production team was excited to learn of the tourism opportunities offered by the museum. "I can easily see us filling a train or two just for the Rockin' & Rollin' Geology tour," Bowers said.
Over the next few years, the convention's production team will make additional site visits to Ely as they refine their designs for 2016. Once the event draws closer, they plan to offer several opportunities for the local community to learn more about their plans. "Although our convention sessions are only open to members of the society, we like to share as much as possible with the local residents," Bowers said. "Our members are passionate about the exploration and conservation of caves. We're already looking at ways we can share that with the citizens of Ely in 2016."
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Text: http://www.caves.org/region/western/nss ... elease.txt
PDF: http://www.caves.org/region/western/nss ... elease.pdf