Background Information on Binkley Cave

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Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby SinkholePlain » Apr 19, 2012 5:44 pm

This is Gary Roberson. I would like to give everyone my perspective on Binkley Cave System and the proposed development project. I have been exploring and mapping in Binkley since 1967. It is very near and dear to me. When we first entered the cave, Corydon was a small rural community almost stereotypical of the Norman Rockwell paintings. There were only 2 or 3 places to eat in town-The Dog & Suds, Ideal Cafeteria and Jock's Lunch. Sizable farms raising cattle, chickens along with corn and soybeans covered the vast majority of the area over the cave system. Fast forward 45 years and you would not recognize Corydon. While it is still a very nice place to live, it is now adjacent to busy I-64 and you have to drive through close to a mile of Walmart Supercenter, dozens of restaurants, convenience stores, an 8 plex movie theater, car dealerships etc to even find the original part of town.

The cavers of the Indiana Speleological Survey have seen the northern parts of the cave particularly degraded over the intervening years. Dr. Jerry Lewis's work in the mid 1990's for the Nature Conservancy confirmed that the stream emptying from the North Section into the main stream was the most polluted in the cave.

The development of a small section of the Binkley Cave system as a show cave may be the only long term hope for the cave system to remain viable 100 years from now. This will be another show cave owned by NSS cavers, which over the past few decades has definitely been a trend in the American show cave industry. The ownership of show caves by NSS members is a good thing. Whether it be Cumberland Caverns, Marengo Cave, Glenwood Caverns, California Caverns, Moaning Cave, Black Chasm Caverns, Diamond Caverns etc, cavers owning show caves has upgraded the level of interpretation and educational opportunities for the general public significantly over the past 30-40 years. In this case, this new show cave will offer a great opportunity to educate the public, especially the local populace, about what a treasure exists under their feet. It will also give us a basis from which to advocate for future development in a manner that protects the integrity of the resource.

Even during the current real estate depression numerous new $250,000 houses have been and are currently being constructed over the cave system. When the housing depression finally ends, home building over the cave will rapidly increase in intensity as Corydon is only 23 miles from downtown Louisville, KY. There is no turning back the clock to Norman Rockwell's days. We hope to make a difference for the future of the Binkley Cave system in addition to the normal goals of operating a business.

In response the post about the county helping to pay for blasting an new entrance to help make a connection in the cave, this has no basis in fact. The county only said they would pay 50% of widening 900 feet of narrow road for safety purposes. Actually in most economic development projects, governmental units will pay 100% of road widening for economic development projects. In this case the private entity is agreeing to pay 50% of the cost of widening a roadway owned by the county government. That is all that was being proposed. No one is asking the county for money for any other part of the development. Binkley and Blowing Hole Cave have already been connected for several months so an entrance is not needed for that purpose.

In closing, I have been a caver since I was 11 years old. I love Binkley Cave and have devoted and continue to devote my life to exploring and mapping it. I am very concerned about it's future. I know that the proposed project will be a signficant positive for the cave system over time. I understand the point-of-view of cavers that love the peace and wilderness of a pristine wild cave. Being in virgin cave is in my opinion the most wonderful experience of being a caver. However as a 46 year NSS member, I can sleep well knowing that what we are doing is a good thing and hopefully will play a significant part in saving the Binkley Cave system when NSS member #200,000 gets ready to find some virgin cave in southern Indiana.

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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby David Grimes » Apr 19, 2012 5:52 pm

Thank you for posting Gary. I sincerely was not trying to accuse you or anyone of any wrongdoing, I simply wanted to know more and I had genuine concerns. As I mentioned on the other post the article was very vague on what the actual plans were for the cave and stopped short of saying it would become a commercial tour cave.

I mentioned that I had no problems with a plan that would increase tourism in the area and I stand behind that. It sounds like my concerns were wrong and I am glad they were. I wish you luck on your project and thanks for informing everyone.
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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby shibumi » Apr 19, 2012 5:59 pm

Thanks for the information Gary, it sounds like it'll be an interesting project, I look forward to seeing how it progresses!

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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby GroundquestMSA » Apr 19, 2012 9:11 pm

Gary, could you futher describe the "degradation" taking place in Binkley, and explain how commercialization of a portion of the cave will have any impact on such? It's a bit hard for me to see the application of the "save the cave", and "quaint history" sections of your post.
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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby David Grimes » Apr 19, 2012 9:28 pm

I had the same question but you beat me to it GroundquestMSA. I too am curious how a commercial section will help protect a 30+ mile cave system with multiple entrances. I am also interested in a response to wyandottecaver's questions.

wyandottecaver wrote:My questions are more curious and neutral in nature. Like why Gary (maybe) now wants to commercialize a cave he talked a developer out of commercializing decades ago (which is why Squire Boone exists btw), How Squire will feel about getting "cut off", How the TNC who has funded a lot of Binkley biology will feel, and how Gary's rumoured non-compete clause with Marengo might factor in.


You can read the full post here.
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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby caveflower » Apr 20, 2012 5:33 pm

This is not that hard to figure out guys. Educate people about whats under their feet and they will take care of it. For one I would like to stop cleaning trash out of caves. This will help that.
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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby David Grimes » Apr 20, 2012 5:50 pm

I understand the thought behind educating the public and it is a good approach. Realistically we cannot ever expect to stop all cave vandalism even with the best public outreach programs. I agree that the project could help to keep the cave from becoming polluted and such but I guess Gary did not say specifically what he meant by using the term degraded. I think GroundquestMSA and myself might have assumed he was speaking of vandalism both intentional and accidental. In those scenarios the public portion would likely have little effect.

I don't have a problem with the project and I hope it succeeds, I just have more questions but I am sure they will be answered in time.
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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby wyandottecaver » Apr 20, 2012 6:48 pm

Brenda,

Commercial Caves can and do certainly educate. However, Harrison and Crawford counties have had commercial caves open for decades (actually Wyandotte goes back to the 1800's). Several articles about the Binkley system have appeared in the local press over the years. I seriously doubt another commercial cave will add greatly to overall cave education in the area, but it is possible. It also may well help protect access to the system and may create more awareness of Binkley in particular. It might also make a lot of money.

Binkley doesnt have any issues with Vandals, but it does have water quality issues in some areas due to septic systems and could face threats from drilling.
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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby GroundquestMSA » Apr 20, 2012 6:59 pm

Gary speaks as if without this project, the cave will wither up and die. Brenda claims that this project will cause people to stop throwing trash in caves. Nonsense and nonsense! Commercialize all you want, but don't pretend it's for the sake of the cave, or future cavers.
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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby David Grimes » Apr 20, 2012 7:14 pm

Well you do have to give him the benefit, he did specifically say he also has the same goals of every other business. Of course that means to make money and be successful. There is a real benefit in the ability to protect the cave from further pollution but like you said, the cave would be just fine without a commercial section but any benefit is better than nothing.
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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby GroundquestMSA » Apr 20, 2012 7:18 pm

David Grimes wrote:Well you do have to give him the benefit, he did specifically say he also has the same goals of every other business. Of course that means to make money and be successful.


That's just jolly and I wish him well.
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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby wyandottecaver » Apr 20, 2012 7:20 pm

A bit harsh groundquest. Commercialization can be good, bad, or both for a cave. As they say, it all depends.

One thing I am worried about (doesnt mean it will happen) is the "Marengo Effect". A famous case where a map of the Marengo system was humorously drawn as a spiral inside their own property lines. This cave covers a LOT of area and has a lot of people sitting over it.
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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby GroundquestMSA » Apr 20, 2012 7:32 pm

I understand that, but isn't it just a little dramatic to insinuate that you are "saving" a cave through commercialization? Since you know a lot about the cave in question, wyandotte, could you explain to me some of the potential benefits in this particular case?
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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby wyandottecaver » Apr 20, 2012 8:03 pm

Well,

First I would say that since I at least know very little yet about the scope or methods intended for the project, trying to list advantages or disadvantages is all speculative.

So, since we are ONLY speculating....

In general, the cave does lie under an area that is becoming more and more developed and can be expected to continue to do so. It is unlikely that this project would stop that, but it *might* lend force to more karst friendly zoning and permiting by the city and county. It might not matter at all, who knows.

While landowner access to entrances is currently good, that could easily change. Having an active and long time caver owning a commercial entrance could help provide a continuity of access. It could also result in those investors buying leases on the other entrances and creating a monopoly on access...who knows.

Many of the new sections of the cave can be remote and difficult to access. A new visitor friendly access could enable more exploration by more people and greater access by scientists to what is in many cases a virtually virgin system. It could also raise liability concerns and result in severe restrictions on off trail exploration. Who knows.

Being commercialized will certainly raise the prestige of the system and those who own entrances may become more concerned with protecting them. The TNC might become concerned about the new noteriety of a biologically sensitive cave. Those that own other caves in the area might become more receptive to exploration in hopes their cave "goes" or connects to the Binkley system. Who knows

In closing, most of Binkley is not what I would describe as scenic or fragile, though certainly scenic and fragile areas exist. It is fairly significant biologically and potentially has important paleological remains. Thus, if developed in an appropriate manner and in an appropriate area, there could easily be virtually no adverse impacts to the cave system at all. If developed in an inappropriate manner......
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Re: Background Information on Binkley Cave

Postby Cody JW » Apr 21, 2012 11:38 am

I have met Gary and know about his background in cave management . He is well respected among his peers in commercial cave management . He has been a part in the development of several commercial caves.. I trust Gary's intentions on doing what is best for the cave and developing a healthy balance between conservation and education and being able to get some kind of return on any investment he and his group make. Back in the early 90s I was in on some trips into Marengo prior to his selling of his interest to his partner. These trips involved conservation projects in the cave. He allowed local cavers to stay at the boarding house at the canoe rental. He and his then partner was very accommodating to local cavers willing to help on these project weekends. I trust his good intentions and do not think this is any kind of attempt on his part to profit at the expense of the best interest of the cave.
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