Why are you mapping caves?

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Why are you mapping caves?

Postby NWSurveyor » Jan 24, 2013 12:25 pm

I had an experience with a "cave surveyor" who had mapped a fairly complex cave system and was not willing to share his map. I'm in the NSS, a Grotto member, a caver... I offered to buy a paper copy so I could use it in-cave, but the only thing he was willing to do was send me a link to a locked pdf which I couldn't print or do anything other than look at it on my screen. Is this normal?
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby trogman » Jan 24, 2013 1:11 pm

No! At least not among the surveyors I know, myself included. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and perhaps he has a good reason for it. If so, I'd like to hear it.

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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby NWSurveyor » Jan 24, 2013 3:16 pm

This individual told me (paraphrasing) that he didn't want to lose control of his map. He did offer a low resolution version, but you couldn't read important text. He stood on the issue of not wanting the public to gain access to his map because more people might visit the cave; impacting the environment and/or become injured due to the complex vertical aspects. All that is completely understandable and a respectable stance, but where do you draw the line?
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jan 24, 2013 3:44 pm

I'm usually mapping caves because no one has mapped them yet. And because it's fun. I don't think any of my maps will ever be put to use, but if someone wanted them I would be more than willing to share. I'm working on a resurvey right now because the original map was either never drawn or never shared and the cartographer doesn't want to share the original data. Don't know why.

NWSurveyor wrote: He stood on the issue of not wanting the public to gain access to his map because more people might visit the cave; impacting the environment and/or become injured due to the complex vertical aspects. All that is completely understandable and a respectable stance, but where do you draw the line?


I've heard these arguments before. They don't seem too valid to me, especially if no location info is included on the map. Here's a honking big argument about this issue, and others surrounding the sharing of cave maps:
http://forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=13272
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby Martin Sluka » Jan 24, 2013 4:40 pm

NWSurveyor wrote:I had an experience with a "cave surveyor" who had mapped a fairly complex cave system and was not willing to share his map. I'm in the NSS, a Grotto member, a caver... I offered to buy a paper copy so I could use it in-cave, but the only thing he was willing to do was send me a link to a locked pdf which I couldn't print or do anything other than look at it on my screen. Is this normal?


There are two kind of surveyors:

1. According to article: Sustainable Mapping of Caves, Ph. Hauselmann and the UISIC Workgroup of Topography and mapping, the main reason of proper documentation of cave is to prevent double human impact to cave environment. Only if the cave is correctly mapped and the map is available it is possible to see what was explored and what not and not to do "re-explorations".

2. The fathers complex: The surveyor is filling that HE is something as father of the cave HE mapped and HE doesn't allow others to touch his "child" Sorry but I newer met such SHE.

The reality is much wider - trips to cave, training of caving skills, looking for continuations the former explorers probably omitted, and so on. But if you have proper map the impact to cave would be lower than without map. It is not possible to preserve everything, part of caves should be accessible to cave "tourists" etc., because if not there will grow generation of people in the future which will look for caves and caving and they will explore such caves again. Without continuation of informations one should do the same again and again.

Cavers are not the people they learned caving. They are people they born to be cavers. So new and new generations of people "feeling" the caves will come.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby NWSurveyor » Jan 24, 2013 5:48 pm

I believe he genuinely feels responsible for the preservation of this cave.

Martin Sluka wrote:According to article: Sustainable Mapping of Caves, Ph. Hauselmann and the UISIC Workgroup of Topography and mapping, the main reason of proper documentation of cave is to prevent double human impact to cave environment. Only if the cave is correctly mapped and the map is available it is possible to see what was explored and what not and not to do "re-explorations"....


This makes sense to me, but nobody can force him to disclose his map so it only is a benefit if HE decides to make it public. I'm a professionally licensed land surveyor and state law requires that I stamp, sign, and record my land survey maps with the County/State so the public can benefit from my investigation. Each map has specific statements qualifying my competence and describing the processes I used in performing my survey (instruments, calibrations, computations, etc.). Hey, wait a tick! My state actually has laws that specifically restrict the production of any maps showing topographic information without a State surveying or engineering license unless it is strictly for personal use. I believe most if not all other states have similar requirements. There are variances for Government surveys such as performed by the NPS, USFS, etc.. Maybe this guys is just trying to stay within the limits of the law?

So here's another question: Are you liable for producing cave maps without a surveyor's or engineer's license IF your map is used by others? Are you familiar with the laws governing this in your state? Something to think about.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby tncaver » Jan 24, 2013 7:49 pm

It is normal in TAG. Mappers here are secretive and many times maps are NEVER shared, even decades later. However, here in TAG I
think it is more because of some kind of greed factor than anything else. Mappers in TAG are stingy in most cases. Of course there
are some exceptions, but they are not the norm.

NWSurveyor wrote:I had an experience with a "cave surveyor" who had mapped a fairly complex cave system and was not willing to share his map. I'm in the NSS, a Grotto member, a caver... I offered to buy a paper copy so I could use it in-cave, but the only thing he was willing to do was send me a link to a locked pdf which I couldn't print or do anything other than look at it on my screen. Is this normal?
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby wyandottecaver » Jan 24, 2013 9:37 pm

it is also pervasive in IN and KY. I hear many pretty explanations given, but the reality generally falls to ego. They want the control and the say so. If there is some wonderful shangri-la in the cave you don't want people to find...first your assuming others dont deserve to see what you did and second you DONT have to map it. Actually, the hoarders do a small service by sometimes inspiring people to remap the caves themselves thus cutting small minded people out of the loop.

I simply dont respect cavers who hoard maps. Not because they hoard the map, but because they obviously care about THEM not the cave and not cavers. IT's not just sad, it a real and present danger to safe caving.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby John Lovaas » Jan 25, 2013 7:14 am

NWsurveyor-

A few questions:

Did this person map the cave by himself? Probably not. Ask around- someone else may have a copy.

Is the cave on public or private land? You can always ask the landowner. And you'd be talking to the landowner/manager to access the cave anyway.

As to your question about liability for cartographers- you answered your own question. You are a licensed land surveyor- your cartographic product is intended to survive legal challenges. When someone is conducting any kind of scientific mapping, their end product clearly does not have to stand a legal challenge. if someone was dumb enough to sue a cave surveyor, a land surveyor could easily discuss the relative lack of accuracy on the witness stand.

Of course, even licensed land surveyors can produce crappy data- in the 1980s, a law firm began discovering 'orphan' parcels of land between existing parcels in our county, due to blunders by early/mid 20th century land surveyors.

I was also wondering- is this guy a friend of yours, or a stranger? As a cave surveyor, if a complete stranger asked me for a copy of one of my maps, I'd probably direct you to the landowner/manager for a copy. I can't determine if you are a resonsible caver simply by your ownership of caving gear.

Have you looked on Google? One reason he may not want to distribute a hi-res copy is because someone already tried to do so. There was a recent post on rescue issues here that included a PDF of an article that included a scan of a cave map, with no clear attribution to the cartographer. Weirdly enough, a topo location image was included as well- without explanation or comment.

It may also be that the guy is an asshole. Get your friends together and remap the cave, if the landowner is amenable.

Why do I map caves? Because maps are primary management tools, maps build good landowner relationships, and because the slower you travel in a cave, the more you will see. If I want to travel fast, I'll jump on my motorcycle!
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby NWSurveyor » Jan 25, 2013 4:46 pm

John Lovaas wrote:Did this person map the cave by himself? Probably not. Ask around- someone else may have a copy.
I'm not interested in acquiring this map anymore. Nor am I interested in giving this individual any grief. I was really just posting up the question since I couldn't figure out why someone would survey and map a cave to such detail only to keep it private.

John Lovaas wrote:I can't determine if you are a resonsible caver simply by your ownership of caving gear.
No offense, but why is it up to you to make that determination? It's the same attitude this guy had and it's got nothing to do with what you think of me and my caving abilities. If I approached you and said, I'm a member of the Grotto and the NSS and I am going into this cave, could I please pay you for, or would you be willing to give me a copy of your cave map? You would say what? No because I'm a stranger to you and you can't attest to whether I'm a responsible caver or not. Sorry man, but I think that's bs and I'd go into the cave without your map. So what did you really accomplish?
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby Crockett » Jan 25, 2013 8:28 pm

Without the map you will not know where the PIRATE TREASURE is buried.

I hope you grasp the metaphorical nature of my above response. Expand on the allusion to "PIRATE TREASURE"" and include speleogenesis, geology, biology, archeology, cultural resources, hard to find passage, obscure entrances and more. A map can reveal a lot of things that may not otherwise be seen.

As for calling BS on my associate Mr. Lovass...that's a mistake but excusable...almost understandable. Why would I give you a map if you are just going to go wallow around?
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby Martin Sluka » Jan 26, 2013 7:59 am

There are two aspects:

1. the exploration of cave is part of a project and the rules of project clearly define the conditions to be a part of project. In that case it is without any discussion. I suppose all participants of project have access to all informations including maps.

2. the owner of map is private caver, "father of cave". But he will die, as each of us, and there should be another exploration, another mapping, another human impact. Way?
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby John Lovaas » Jan 26, 2013 10:45 am

@NWsurveyor- I'll respectfully call BS on the notion that because I am a caver, every cave cartographer on the planet should provide me with hi-res PDFs of any cave map they've drafted.

I should point out something that you probably already know- cartographers hold the copyright to their work, unless they otherwise assign those rights to others, or relinquish those rights through an agreement.

Some cartographers can be aggressive(assholes) about copyright, some could care less. For virtually every cave I've ever mapped, I defer to the landowner or manager to make the call, because they have exponentially more rights and responsibilities tied to the cave than I do; my tiny part of the big picture consists of A) minimizing the impact of my cave trip, B) producing a useful cartographic product, and C) having fun.

Which is why I suggested talking to the landowner or land manager. If the owner or manager feels that a high res PDF is useful for you, I'm sure they can make one appear. And if they don't- well, landowner trumps all.

As to your membership in the NSS- the only rights it gives you is delivery of NSS publications to your mailbox, and discounts at caving events. Everything else the membership offers you is an opportunity or responsibility.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby NWSurveyor » Jan 26, 2013 2:55 pm

Okay, "bs" may have been a bit strong. Thank you for not taking offense.

I do realize that most cave maps are copy written and completely agree that it is the cartographer's prerogative to do with their maps what they please. I didn't mean to imply there was some rule where maps must be provided to NSS/Grotto membership. I do think though that it should have been good enough telling him I'm an NSS & Grotto member. I could have told him I spent more than 10 years on a high angle mountain rescue team and was qualified in cave rescue by the NCRC. Would you give me a map based on that? In my opinion none of that should matter - unless you are going with me :-)
Also, I should say that I'm looking at this as it relates to caves on public land.

The point I was trying to make was that not sharing a map with someone doesn't mean the cartographer is in control. Not sharing may or may not lessen cave impacts or avert risk of injury or death. You could never know for certain. Maybe cavers just go without the map, something we all can agree is an extremely important tool. I propose that by sharing maps, even with complete strangers, personal judgements aside, you are in fact promoting safety, education and cave awareness. Personal judgement on whether a caver is responsible or just mucking around is arrogance. In public land caves you can't control who can go into what cave. You can, however, educate them by providing a map and your personal experience and recommendations. If the thought is that they might be in danger because they don't have the experience necessary, then contacting the local rescue team, putting them on notice and providing them with the map would be the smart move.
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Re: Why are you mapping caves?

Postby John Lovaas » Jan 26, 2013 7:15 pm

NWSurveyor wrote:I could have told him I spent more than 10 years on a high angle mountain rescue team and was qualified in cave rescue by the NCRC. Would you give me a map based on that?


Not to play gotcha- but since you mentioned this is a cave on public lands- in my own case, I could not. For every cave map that I have produced on public lands (not counting small caves in Iowa and Wisconsin), you'd have to ask the land manager- because that is part of the permit to survey the cave. No BS.

Does accessing this cave require a permit- or permission? I'm just curious if the manager shares the same philosophy as the cartographer.

NWSurveyor wrote:Not sharing may or may not lessen cave impacts or avert risk of injury or death.


Yes!

NWSurveyor wrote:I propose that by sharing maps, even with complete strangers, personal judgements aside, you are in fact promoting safety, education and cave awareness.


You had access to a map, but were unhappy with the resolution. While your case was deliberate, there are a bazillion cave maps floating around that are copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of a print of a Kodachrome slide of a map on a table... ;-) And the original is lost to the ages! ;-)

NWSurveyor wrote:Personal judgement on whether a caver is responsible or just mucking around is arrogance..


Would you say that to a cave owner or manager?

NWSurveyor wrote:In public land caves you can't control who can go into what cave. You can, however, educate them by providing a map and your personal experience and recommendations. If the thought is that they might be in danger because they don't have the experience necessary, then contacting the local rescue team, putting them on notice and providing them with the map would be the smart move.


I must be a pretty wimpy caver, but I wouldn't take new cavers on a trip that would have me put a rescue team on notice because of the new cavers' inexperience. Did I read that right?
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