Looking for first-hand accounts of effects of cave closures

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Looking for first-hand accounts of effects of cave closures

Postby Pippin » Jun 9, 2014 10:08 am

I'm working on a writing project about WNS management issues. I'm looking for first-hand accounts of how WNS management policies (specifically closing caves) have affected you and affected cave conservation in your area. I'm especially interested in hearing from anyone who has been denied access to caves for scientific research, survey projects, educational trips, etc. I'm also interested in finding out about any instances of cave vandalism that you think are the result of the 2009 cave closure. I would like to talk to people who used to work closely with the USFS, BLM, FWS, and state agencies before the blanket cave closure and how the cave closures have affected your relationships. I'm also interested in hearing opinions on how the cave closures have affected educating the public about the value of caves and the need to conserve caves. If you know of people I can contact, especially out west, please let me know. Feel free to post this request to regional caving lists. I'm a TAG caver and don't have tons of contacts in western states. You may email me at pinkleyj@gmail.com. Thanks!

Jennifer Pinkley
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Re: Looking for first-hand accounts of effects of cave closu

Postby ohiocaver » Jun 14, 2014 9:49 pm

Contact Carter Caves State Park in Kentucky. I think Coy Ainsley is still the key person. When WNS put an abrupt end to Crawlathon (the decision was announced about 48 hours before the event was to be held), it cost the Park and Olive Hill merchants tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues from meals, lodging, etc. Typically 300-400 or so cavers attended the event and, since it was held in late January, almost everyone took a cabin or motel room. They ate. They bought gas. They stocked up on munchies. There now is a small non-cave revival of the event. But for 5-6 years, those revenues were lost to a community and county that can ill afford a reduction in job opportunities or outside money flowing in.
[url=http://postimg.org/image/lex35gcbv/][img]http://s9.postimg.org/lex35gcbv/curt_Bryants_Cave_Indiana.jpg[/img][/url]
[url=http://postimg.org/image/eta4ctvar/][img]http://s21.postimg.org/eta4ctvar/cn_oh_isl_coils_cave_curt_sketch.jpg[/img][/url]
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Re: Looking for first-hand accounts of effects of cave closu

Postby ohiocaver » Jun 14, 2014 9:58 pm

Two further, related areas you might look into:
1- It might be interesting to ask whether anyone has been fined by state or federal officials for entering a cave on government property. The fines are pretty draconian.
2- What is the cost of the signs and fences erected around closed caves? On the Cuyahoga National Park here in Ohio there is a small cave that is posted closed for WNS. I've never seen bats there (there may have been a few but it's a shallow little thing -- a typical Ohio cavelet). However there is a sturdy double fence erected around the cave to keep people out. Just the wood alone had to run over $1000.
[url=http://postimg.org/image/lex35gcbv/][img]http://s9.postimg.org/lex35gcbv/curt_Bryants_Cave_Indiana.jpg[/img][/url]
[url=http://postimg.org/image/eta4ctvar/][img]http://s21.postimg.org/eta4ctvar/cn_oh_isl_coils_cave_curt_sketch.jpg[/img][/url]
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Re: Looking for first-hand accounts of effects of cave closu

Postby KENTO » Jun 18, 2014 1:44 pm

A depressed Iraq war veteran killed himself in his favorite cave in the Crawford Harrison State Forest of Indiana which is still closed to Caving due to WNS fears. His family experienced prolonged anguish and lacked closure for over a year until some outlaw cavers went in and discovered his corpse there. A friend of mine put up with verbal abuse from a Indiana DNR Law officer as he kindly served as a volunteer searcher for clues with the Uniforms out stumbling around in the woods. Another friend was injured volunteering in the body recovery from said cave a year later, once found. I still think she should have sued the State of Indiana for medical bills and made a big stink about it in the press, so they might have been forced to admit Cavers have a value to society after all.
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Re: Looking for first-hand accounts of effects of cave closu

Postby KENTO » Jun 18, 2014 1:52 pm

The discoverers were flashlight and bandanna cavers from a College 80 miles away...i've not heard if State of Indiana fined them, nor how these kids knew of the obscure hole. Not sure if they went by one of the several Thousand dollars worth of Cave Closure signs erected all over this area by the State Authorities.
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Re: Looking for first-hand accounts of effects of cave closu

Postby Extremeophile » Jun 18, 2014 2:01 pm

ohiocaver wrote:It might be interesting to ask whether anyone has been fined by state or federal officials for entering a cave on government property. The fines are pretty draconian.

There were no citations or warnings issued here in USFS Region 2 (Rocky Mtn Region) during the 2-3 years of closures starting in 2010. Most law enforcement rangers had more important concerns and didn't really want to police caves.

Tony Dixon, the deputy regional forester in 2010, talked about redirecting funds to help fight WNS. His plan involved spending all of that money on enforcement of the cave closure, because he falsely equated keeping people out of caves with stopping WNS. Fortunately he left and what little money is available has been used for conducting bat and microclimate studies.
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Re: Looking for first-hand accounts of effects of cave closu

Postby KENTO » Jun 18, 2014 2:13 pm

The taxpayers of Indiana payed a huge amount of money during the search effort for the poor fellow. Resulting, I'm sure, in the Law Officers chip on his shoulder with my friend, they tried not to let Caver volunteers help at first. If they had allowed real cavers to check inside the 2 or 3 caves near his car we would have found him right away. The search dogs found his scent coming from a large culvert entrance of a cave that is separated by breakdown filled passages by a few yards. Again if they would have allowed the Cavers to freely offer assistance in checking the nearby cave known as Breathing Hole, his family could have had a funeral with their loved one at the time of his passing. But they didn't want their Professional team to be shown up by the bad guys, those recreational cavers who opened these caves up years ago and can't go back in them.
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Re: Looking for first-hand accounts of effects of cave closu

Postby batrotter » Jun 19, 2014 6:52 am

The Indiana DNR asked the Indiana Cave Survey for cave locations in the state forests. The reason for the request is the possible listing of the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species. The DNR wants all cave locations in the state forests as well as 10 miles surrounding. The ICS denied their request since we cannot have access to the caves. As a result, no one gets anything out of the deal.
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