How many known caves in each state?

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Postby hewhocaves » Aug 12, 2007 8:29 am

So not to dredge up this comatose subject but...

I did a paper on chemical controls of cave (i.e. rock type and purity) (after White and Rauch) last december for New Jersey and eastern Pa. One of the things I had to come up with was a useful standard for inclusion. That is to say - how small a cave was I going to let into the study?

Let too small a cave in and your study leans towards the isolated vug rather than the interconnected system. (and lets face it, you can get vugs anywhere). A previous monogrpah, by Dalton, did just that and came up with some unusual answers. (NSS bulletin, i think in 1974). Make the criteria too LARGE and you knock out almost all the caves and have too small a statistical sample. (especially in the place i was looking at)

I eventually picked 50 feet as an answer (White and Rauch's paper used 100'). for the study area, this was considered the best comprimise between length and sample.
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Postby Teresa » Aug 12, 2007 2:07 pm

hewhocaves wrote:So not to dredge up this comatose subject but...

I eventually picked 50 feet as an answer (White and Rauch's paper used 100'). for the study area, this was considered the best comprimise between length and sample.


So?

I don't understand why the states don't go along with the federal definition. It includes all the big stuff, while omitting obvous vugs and other karst features.

(1) CAVE.-The term "cave" means any naturally occurring void, cavity,
recess, or system of interconnected passages which occurs beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge (including any cave resource therein, but not including any vug, mine, tunnel, aqueduct, or other man-made excavation) and which is large enough to permit an individual to enter, whether or not the entrance is naturally formed or man-made. Such term shall include any natural pit, sinkhole, or other feature which is an extension of the entrance.


I mean, if hewhocaves only wants to study his particular subset, that's fine-- but subsets do not include the entire set.
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Postby Ronaldo » Aug 12, 2007 10:12 pm

I have been pondering the issue of standards for what defines a cave for a few days. Having caved in Indiana, Kentucky and TAG a lot over the past 25 yrs, I appreciate why certain areas have different definitions for caves. I feel that it is a relative thing to each area. In Indiana we do not have near as many caves and features as TAG, I would hate to see us adopt a policy that a cave has to be 50' long or a pit 50' deep.

Here a 25ft Pit is significant enough to call a pit, but in TAG they are a dime a dozen so I can see having a higher standard for what you call a cave or a pit. I don't remember exactly what all the TAG States have for requirements, but I think they should all agree when they border each other with such a concentration of caves.

I can also appreciate wanting to have a global standard, but if so I think it should error on the smaller side to not eliminate the states and countries with less significant caves. If it is handled in this manner we will just have 4 times as many caves with the names Pee Wee Herman Cave, Tiny Tim Cave, and Little Bo Peep Cave.
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Postby Marbry » Aug 16, 2007 11:26 am

Teresa wrote:
hewhocaves wrote:So not to dredge up this comatose subject but...

I eventually picked 50 feet as an answer (White and Rauch's paper used 100'). for the study area, this was considered the best comprimise between length and sample.


So?

I don't understand why the states don't go along with the federal definition. It includes all the big stuff, while omitting obvous vugs and other karst features.

(1) CAVE.-The term "cave" means any naturally occurring void, cavity,
recess, or system of interconnected passages which occurs beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge (including any cave resource therein, but not including any vug, mine, tunnel, aqueduct, or other man-made excavation) and which is large enough to permit an individual to enter, whether or not the entrance is naturally formed or man-made. Such term shall include any natural pit, sinkhole, or other feature which is an extension of the entrance.


I mean, if hewhocaves only wants to study his particular subset, that's fine-- but subsets do not include the entire set.


It's more a matter of practicality than anything. In Tennessee if we were to go by that definition, you could very quickly *at least* triple the current number of caves. I could walk less than a mile down the street and add another 50 this afternoon for instance. No one really wants to keep track of 30,000+ tiny little holes.

The TCS does record non-qualifying karst features for just the reasons mentioned earlier where they are repeatedly reported, provide a landmark or have some other significance. (i.e. a very nice natural bridge) But they are not 'counted' as caves.
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Postby Teresa » Aug 17, 2007 5:55 pm

Well, if we did go with the federal definition, and we did count every little enterable karst rathole in the country-- I bet caves would get more respect as an "important resource."

That's just the way the world works.

Think of this applied to creeks. How many little rathole creeks are there, but since they are all parts of watersheds, there is some justification to make people deal with them, even if they don't carry water year round.
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Postby Ralph E. Powers » Aug 17, 2007 6:45 pm

Teresa wrote:Think of this applied to creeks. How many little rathole creeks are there, but since they are all parts of watersheds, there is some justification to make people deal with them, even if they don't carry water year round.

Well that too can be skewed by definition... because out here in TAG a creek is considered a river in Utah. I've seen Utahn rivers and had to ask... this here is a RIVER? Oh man. :doh:
I'm guessing it's probably the amount of water flowing over a certain period that makes the definition.
I call a cave a cave when I have to put on my helmet and turn on my light to see my way around (during the day)... a pit is a pit when I got to strap on a harness and get on a rope... otherwise it's a downclimb, still technically a pit because not everyone can downclimb like other folks can.
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Postby Marbry » Aug 20, 2007 10:06 am

Teresa wrote:Well, if we did go with the federal definition, and we did count every little enterable karst rathole in the country-- I bet caves would get more respect as an "important resource."

That's just the way the world works.

Think of this applied to creeks. How many little rathole creeks are there, but since they are all parts of watersheds, there is some justification to make people deal with them, even if they don't carry water year round.


I don't see that at all, it's still going to be just a hole in the ground to most folks. Caves are at best a curiosity to most people, and changing an arbitrary definition of what constitutes a cave isn't going to change that attitude.

It might also have the effect of diluting efforts to protect significant caves. 'Why go to all that bother for this one when there are so many more out there?'
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Postby barcelonacvr » Aug 20, 2007 10:25 am

What about areas that have many small caves? Do we discard them? I "think" Ontario (yes I realize not a state but close :tonguecheek: ) goes by the minimum of 3o ft (could be 50,I will check)as long as it is all out of the twilight zone.

While we have a couple 11 km plus maze caves a LOT of our caves are not really long.That being the case,squeezing through 14" high small caves certainly takes skill and a light.Our most extremely decorated cave (Root) is closed to the public and is fairly short but has some really rare and wild formations.It might barely make a list based on size only.

IMHO if it goes completely dark it is a cave and they all have their own individual characters and merit.

I would however like to eradicate crevice caves from the list,but that is just me :argue:
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Postby batrotter » Aug 21, 2007 5:42 am

Teresa wrote:
I don't understand why the states don't go along with the federal definition. It includes all the big stuff, while omitting obvous vugs and other karst features.

(1) CAVE.-The term "cave" means any naturally occurring void, cavity,
recess, or system of interconnected passages which occurs beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge (including any cave resource therein, but not including any vug, mine, tunnel, aqueduct, or other man-made excavation) and which is large enough to permit an individual to enter, whether or not the entrance is naturally formed or man-made. Such term shall include any natural pit, sinkhole, or other feature which is an extension of the entrance.



You might want to check the federal definition again. Several of us have been working on a karst inventory in the Hoosier National Forest for a numberr of years. The Forest Service's defintion of a cave is anything that a person can get into. The definition that you gave is indeed true, that is any void, cavity, etc. A Forest Service cave could be only a few feet long, just so long as a body can fit in.
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Postby Teresa » Aug 21, 2007 8:15 am

Um, what you said may be the USFS definition. What I posted was cut and pasted from the 1989 FCRPA actual law they are supposed to be following. I know every agency has tweaked that wording to fit their own purposes. I still think this every state survey for itself isn't a good idea.
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Postby Marbry » Aug 21, 2007 10:46 am

Ponorplumber wrote:What about areas that have many small caves? Do we discard them? I "think" Ontario (yes I realize not a state but close :tonguecheek: ) goes by the minimum of 3o ft (could be 50,I will check)as long as it is all out of the twilight zone.

While we have a couple 11 km plus maze caves a LOT of our caves are not really long.That being the case,squeezing through 14" high small caves certainly takes skill and a light.Our most extremely decorated cave (Root) is closed to the public and is fairly short but has some really rare and wild formations.It might barely make a list based on size only.

IMHO if it goes completely dark it is a cave and they all have their own individual characters and merit.

I would however like to eradicate crevice caves from the list,but that is just me :argue:


And that's why I don't think 'one size fits all'.
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Postby batrotter » Aug 21, 2007 3:26 pm

Teresa wrote:Um, what you said may be the USFS definition. What I posted was cut and pasted from the 1989 FCRPA actual law they are supposed to be following. I know every agency has tweaked that wording to fit their own purposes. I still think this every state survey for itself isn't a good idea.


Yes, I'd agree that every agency has probably tweaked the wording to fit their own purposes. After all, every "Significant Cave", that is the Forest Service's words, adds to the "value" of their forest. So increased numbers makes it look better.

I was unaware of the 1989 FCRPA specifics as to cave length. I asked the HNF Karst Specialist for the definition.
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Postby barcelonacvr » Aug 21, 2007 11:18 pm

[/quote]

And that's why I don't think 'one size fits all'.[/quote]


Especially if your like me and thick :doh:
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Postby hewhocaves » Aug 22, 2007 11:45 am

Teresa wrote:
hewhocaves wrote:So not to dredge up this comatose subject but...

I eventually picked 50 feet as an answer (White and Rauch's paper used 100'). for the study area, this was considered the best comprimise between length and sample.


So?

I don't understand why the states don't go along with the federal definition. It includes all the big stuff, while omitting obvous vugs and other karst features.

(1) CAVE.-The term "cave" means any naturally occurring void, cavity,
recess, or system of interconnected passages which occurs beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge (including any cave resource therein, but not including any vug, mine, tunnel, aqueduct, or other man-made excavation) and which is large enough to permit an individual to enter, whether or not the entrance is naturally formed or man-made. Such term shall include any natural pit, sinkhole, or other feature which is an extension of the entrance.

I mean, if hewhocaves only wants to study his particular subset, that's fine-- but subsets do not include the entire set.


Jeez Teresa, was there any reason to be dismissive like that? I mean your argument is simply 'lets use the Federal standard simply because thats what the government tells us to use.' Well, that's great for Washington, but last time I checked 1600 Pennsylvania Ave doesn't have veto power over science.

IMHO the federal government's definition is too broad from a cave point of view and not inclusive enough from a karst point of view. It is exactly what you would expect from something vetted by a roomful of lawyers.

Most amusingly, the definition includes 'ANY natural void', but excludes vugs. Well, what is a vug except an isolated natural void?? I mean, there are no signs inside of vugs saying 'this is a Vug, not a cave'. And what if you have two vugs close enough together that they connect? Is that a cave??

Furthermore, if were to apply that definition to New Jersey, I could easily come up with a thousand caves in the state. Maybe even two or three. New Jersey is great for little five foot isolated segments exposed to the surface. This is a state where there are about 30 caves longer than 300'!! Does NJ have 1000 caves? Heck no.

As I pointed out in my previous post, if volume / length is to be used as a gauge, it helps weed out the noise within statistical trends if you put up a minimum length. Thats all I was saying.
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Postby Teresa » Aug 22, 2007 10:19 pm

Teresa wrote:
I mean, if hewhocaves only wants to study his particular subset, that's fine-- but subsets do not include the entire set.


hewhocaves wrote:Jeez Teresa, was there any reason to be dismissive like that? I mean your argument is simply 'lets use the Federal standard simply because thats what the government tells us to use.' Well, that's great for Washington, but last time I checked 1600 Pennsylvania Ave doesn't have veto power over science.


No one was being dismissive. Just saying one can choose to study only one species of a genus, without being critical of the entire genus.
IMHO the federal government's definition is too broad from a cave point of view and not inclusive enough from a karst point of view. It is exactly what you would expect from something vetted by a roomful of lawyers.


As I understand and REMEMBER it... there were quite a bunch of well-known *cavers* who worked upon and 'vetted' the wording. Just the fact that you seem to think the definition is too broad for a cave and too narrow for karst gives it some legal workability in my book.

Most amusingly, the definition includes 'ANY natural void', but excludes vugs. Well, what is a vug except an isolated natural void?? I mean, there are no signs inside of vugs saying 'this is a Vug, not a cave'. And what if you have two vugs close enough together that they connect? Is that a cave??


You are splitting hairs here... again, the whole 'vug' question was mulled over seven ways from Sunday at the time...the general concensus was, in common understanding, vugs are either crystal-filled geodes, or ore-containing hollows. This was a sop to the mining interests. Some cavers were rather bent out of shape at the time. But as you so keenly note, governments have to deal with multiple constituencies.

Furthermore, if were to apply that definition to New Jersey, I could easily come up with a thousand caves in the state. Maybe even two or three. New Jersey is great for little five foot isolated segments exposed to the surface. This is a state where there are about 30 caves longer than 300'!! Does NJ have 1000 caves? Heck no.



There was also a big brouhaha about enterable, vs enterable + twilight zone. They deleted the twilight zone part, because to include it would delete a lot a big pits. We *know* this definition is an elephant constructed by a committee. However rather that, than relying on 'one' caver-centric definition which in itself is exclusionary.

As I pointed out in my previous post, if volume / length is to be used as a gauge, it helps weed out the noise within statistical trends if you put up a minimum length. Thats all I was saying.


Which is why I said you could define your own subset for your own purposes, and I was cool with that. I know of a search for cavefish caves which did not initially include the requirement that the caves to be searched had pools or streams. Looking for cavefish in dry caves is a bit silly. By making a big definition which includes many options, leaves the local managers more leeway to figure out just how they want to interpret a cave. And in government, the closer to the ground decisions are made, for the most part, means the better decisions are possible.
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