Join a grotto to learn about Idaho's caves

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Join a grotto to learn about Idaho's caves

Postby Evan G » Mar 5, 2007 10:43 am

[center]Now if they could run this in every paper![/center]

Join a grotto to learn about Idaho's caves
Caving groups offer great way to explore, study and protect fragile underground environments
- Idaho Statesman
Edition Date: 03/05/07

Link to Article:

A grotto is not only a cavern or tiny cave, it is also a club of people who explore caves and work on cave conservation projects.

The Gem State Grotto is a 60-member club based in the Treasure Valley that is decades old and affiliated with the National Speleological Society. Another Idaho club, the Silver Sage Grotto, was chartered with NSS in 2001 and is affiliated with the College of Southern Idaho's Outdoor Program in Twin Falls.

There are 200 grottos across the nation, with more than 12,000 members. The clubs promote the responsible use of the fragile underground environment that represents some of the last unexplored places on Earth. Members strive to protect and restore caves as they explore them.

It was the tug of the mysterious underground that drew Jim Hathorn to his lifetime pursuit of caves, caving and fellowship. A 30-year member of the Gem State Grotto, he has held leadership positions with the club, taught university-level caving classes and conducted cave rescue seminars.

He continues to be active in the caving community of Idaho and the region.

"I have been interested in caving ever since I was a little kid, always wondering what was in a cave and wanting to go caving," he said.

And who can resist seeing cave formations, learning about geology, or experiencing total silence and total darkness when the friendly chatter stops and the headlamps are turned off?

Hathorn said there are 400 to 450 caves identified in Idaho.

Lava tubes are prolific in the old basalt flows along the Snake River Plain in the southern part of the state. Explorers may see hues of brown, black and red in the cooled lava.

An ongoing project of the Gem State Grotto is assisting the Bureau of Land Management with a cave inventory project on the Wapi Flow at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. There are unknown and unidentified caves on the preserve. The basalt flows are prime candidates for the discovery of new caves.

Members of the Gem State Grotto help discover, explore and map the new caves. Work is done carefully and slowly to preserve fragile cave formations or archaeological artifacts, and to document cave flora, fauna and signs of prior inhabitants or potential hazards.

Cavers tend to be careful about revealing details about caves, attempting to protect the delicate underground resources from harm from careless visitors who inadvertently or purposefully destroy formations and archaeological items or who have disturbed bats in hibernation.

Grottos focus on educating users on how to safely and carefully enjoy caves while preserving the resource for future visitors.

To gain access to the wonderful world of caves, join a grotto. You will learn procedures and techniques that keep you and the cave safe and healthy. Along the way you will make new friends to cave with.

Gem State Grotto meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Casa Mexico Restaurant in Boise.

Membership is $15 the first year and $50 the second year (which includes NSS membership).

Activities throughout the year include a Casino Night fundraiser March 17, with a potluck and costume party, cave inventorying projects, trips to a various caves, winter practice sessions that develop rappelling and rope ascending skills, equipment testing, and new member skill development.

Silver Sage Grotto meets the second Thursday of each month on the College of Southern Idaho campus.

Other cave experiences

For a cave experience that doesn't require club membership or extensive training, join a ranger-led tour at Craters of the Moon from early June to early September.

Depending on the ranger, topics on the two-hour tour of Indian Tunnel may cover volcanology, archaeology, cave conservation and safety tips. The only charge is the $8 per vehicle entry fee to get into the area.

More experienced cavers can pick up a map that shows which caves are currently open to the public.

Whether exploring with a club or friends, follow Hathorn's tips below.

• Never cave alone.

• Cave with a minimum of three people.

• Wear a helmet.

• Have at least three sources of light — one mountable on a helmet — and enough lights to last three times longer than you plan on being in the cave.

• Leave specific instructions with someone in town on where you are and when you are expected back, in case of a need for a search.

• Call your designated contact as soon as you leave the cave.
Evan G
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
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Joined: Mar 12, 2006 2:52 pm
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Name: EEG
NSS #: 28685
Primary Grotto Affiliation: NRMG

Postby Herman Miller » Mar 6, 2007 3:21 am

wow, that is a great editorial and im sure it will help bolster there membership. Something like this, drafted through the NSS, I feel would definately help the membership of the NSS if it were distributed in areas with established grottoes and or a large number of at risk caves
Herman Miller NSS# 55273SU BOG Candidate 2010, 2012
User avatar
Herman Miller
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Posts: 319
Joined: Sep 6, 2005 12:18 am
Location: Republic, Washington
Name: herman miller
NSS #: 55273
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Permian Basin Speleological Society

Postby knotty » Mar 6, 2007 10:04 am

cool my playground for 30 years. Most of the caves Ive Been to is here in the wapi lava flow. I explored there caves befor I joined the NSS and
almost all of these tubes show now signs of humans. I'm sure some of these caves are the unexpored and unidentified caves that is mentioned. Wish I had a GPS.
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Joined: Jan 18, 2006 11:33 am
Location: Pocatello Idaho

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