USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8.

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USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8.

Postby John Lovaas » Apr 16, 2014 11:37 am

Region 8 being KY, VA, TN, NC, SC, MS, AL, GA, FL, LA, TX, AR, OK.

http://data.ecosystem-management.org/ne ... ject=44053

This document was released on April 2- this is the the first I've heard of it. USFS is looking for comments, but according to their own website, plan to have the NEPA or Forest Plan Amendment Decision Document available by 05/2014.

Here is the scoping letter:

http://a123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/ab ... 634241.pdf

Two disturbing items in the scoping letter right off- one, that one of the two reasons for the 5 year closure is to 'slow the spread of white nose syndrome'. In other words, carry out an action that has no demonstrable value whatsoever.

The second more disturbing item is this:

"There have been new scientific developments in bio-control of (Pd) that appear promising. The five year closure period will allow the full development of these bio-control techniques, allow for laboratory testing and field trials, and minimize the human spread of (Pd)."

The USFS goes on to post the URL for the abstracts from the 2013 WNS Workshop in Idaho as supporting evidence:

https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/sites ... -final.pdf

Sigh. Some biologists who view caves as holes where bats live(I'm quoting a USGS biologist) will get to trash cave ecosystems and shake some grant money out of the grant money tree.
imbecile sheepherder.
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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby BrianC » Apr 16, 2014 2:51 pm

Five more years, five more years, five more years!!!!.... :rofl: :rofl: :shrug:
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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby BrianC » Apr 16, 2014 2:54 pm

John L wrote
Some biologists who view caves as holes where bats live(I'm quoting a USGS biologist) will get to trash cave ecosystems and shake some grant money out of the grant money tree.

Actually this is the real reason that caves are closed because to date not one single case of WNS can be attributed to human hands!
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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby boogercaver71 » Apr 16, 2014 3:36 pm

If any critter (other than bats) have been dragging the fungus from cave to cave it is raccoons not people. The main problem I have with it (besides some obscure plan the biologists have concocted to eradicate the disease) unless the forest service knows exactly where every bat hang out is ,besides mines and caves, it will not stop the spread. Sometimes you just let nature take its course.
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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby CaverCSE » Apr 16, 2014 3:49 pm

I think it's time we added bylaws to our cave surveys stating: Anybody who is aiding and/or working for an agency that is intent on closing caves will be denied membership and denied any cave data voluntarily collected by cavers. Cavers didn't spend years of their lives collecting these data and perfecting the methods of low impact caving just to have it all used against them.
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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby ohiocaver » Apr 16, 2014 7:10 pm

So...
Can we get an official rejoinder to this from NSS?
Can we get the Chair of each of the many, many grottoes in the region to draft a note protesting this proposal that flies in the face of all scientific evidence?
Can we get a campaign going from other areas of the country to do the same (if USFS gets away with this silliness in one region it surely will migrate to others)?
Can we get caver/representatives with a biology background to attend the hearing and refute the USFS claims?
Can we start a campaign in local newspapers -- weekly and daily -- to do same?
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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby bigredfoote » Apr 17, 2014 6:18 am

Yes, I will be preparing an official response from the NSS. I haven't heard back yet on when comments are due, but will be spending my weekend on it. If you have any information on a hearing on this, please send to wnsliaison@caves.org, because I am still in the dark on this.

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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby Tlaloc » Apr 17, 2014 9:26 am

CaverCSE wrote:I think it's time we added bylaws to our cave surveys stating: Anybody who is aiding and/or working for an agency that is intent on closing caves will be denied membership and denied any cave data voluntarily collected by cavers. Cavers didn't spend years of their lives collecting these data and perfecting the methods of low impact caving just to have it all used against them.


I guess you forgot that the NSS was responsible for the passage of the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act. The implementing regulations of the FCRPA require the Forest service to inventory every significant cave. Secretive cavers have the last laugh here - they can still go caving in their secret caves. The FCRPA is an example of the law of unintended consequences. Now the caves are protected but you can't go in them. The NSS shot itself in the foot by getting this law enacted.
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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby Extremeophile » Apr 17, 2014 9:58 am

Tlaloc wrote:Secretive cavers have the last laugh here - they can still go caving in their secret caves.

When secret caves are destroyed by deforestation, quarrying, mining, or road construction, then nobody will be laughing.

The FCRPA is an example of the law of unintended consequences. Now the caves are protected but you can't go in them. The NSS shot itself in the foot by getting this law enacted.

I fail to see the connection. Caves weren't closed because of the FCRPA, they were closed for WNS. They would have been closed whether or not the FCRPA existed or not. If anything, the closure policies ignore the mandate that the USFS needs to work with the caving community on cave management policy. The FCRPA is a potential tool to get closure policies reversed.
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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby Tlaloc » Apr 17, 2014 10:13 am

Extremeophile wrote:...If anything, the closure policies ignore the mandate that the USFS needs to work with the caving community on cave management policy...


What mandate is that? The MOU?
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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby Extremeophile » Apr 17, 2014 10:47 am

Tlaloc wrote:
Extremeophile wrote:...If anything, the closure policies ignore the mandate that the USFS needs to work with the caving community on cave management policy...


What mandate is that? The MOU?

It's in the 1988 FCRPA as well as the MOU between the NSS and USFS.
These closure policies have been a knee-jerk reaction implemented without input from the caving community. Many of these policies skirted the FCRPA by being declared as "emergency" orders. As the USFS and other agencies consider longer-term policies they need to be reminded that those policies need to be developed cooperatively. The input that has driven blanket cave closures for WNS has been dominated by a very few wildlife biologists. Long-term policy making needs to include input from surveyors/explorers, other fields of cave science, cave conservation and restoration, cave rescue, and recreational cavers.
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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby trogman » Apr 17, 2014 12:58 pm

ohiocaver wrote:So...
Can we get an official rejoinder to this from NSS?
Can we get the Chair of each of the many, many grottoes in the region to draft a note protesting this proposal that flies in the face of all scientific evidence?
Can we get a campaign going from other areas of the country to do the same (if USFS gets away with this silliness in one region it surely will migrate to others)?
Can we get caver/representatives with a biology background to attend the hearing and refute the USFS claims?
Can we start a campaign in local newspapers -- weekly and daily -- to do same?


Not sure about anything "official" from the NSS, but as chair of my local grotto, I will bring this up at the next meeting. Not only that, but I plan to strongly urge the members to write a short letter protesting this policy. I have written my letter, and will probably give copies to the members so that they will have an idea of what to say. If just one or two in each grotto will do this, it could have an impact. Not sure if it'll do any good, but it's worth a shot.

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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby caverdan » Apr 17, 2014 8:48 pm

Welcome to the world of permitted caving. The model has already been struck in region 2. Ask Derek.....he'll tell you where it goes from here. And yes.....all USFS personell are banned from my caving trips. :big grin: It's about all a person can do. :argue: :argue: :argue:

except burn all your notes and hide all your info
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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby bigredfoote » Apr 22, 2014 8:02 am

Comments are due by May 9.

I try to take as many USFS personnel into caves as I can, so they can actually understand why we like going in and how best they can care for the land. Region 2 USFS allows for recreational caving, but requires "registration".

It's all about what you actually do.
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Re: USFS calling for 5 year closure of all caves in Region 8

Postby Extremeophile » Apr 22, 2014 9:26 am

Many wildlife biologists, conservationists, and other USFS personnel naturally think that excluding people from caves will help protect them. Some also think designated Wilderness areas should be entirely closed to people for protection. This point of view is entirely understandable, but it often has unintended consequences. There are places, such as Glen Canyon in UT/AZ, that have seen huge negative environmental impacts because not enough people knew about them or valued them. The river canyons of the Green and Yampa in Dinosaur NM nearly suffered the same fate before a publicity campaign by the Sierra Club saved them. It's my opinion that wilderness areas, including most caves, are better protected by allowing responsible, low-impact visitation. If these places are closed completely then the public, and even cavers, may eventually fail to see the need to protect them at all. Other public resources threatened by wildlife diseases have found a way to retain public access through targeted management. Chytrid fungus, whirling disease, zebra mussels, and noxious plants from livestock are all examples. The USFS should be reminded that targeted management of biologically important bat caves will be more effective than blanket closures and get support rather than opposition from the caving community.
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