Caves and karst regions are fragile resources that
have unique scientific and recreational value, serve as water supplies
for communities, and provide habitats for rare and endangered species.
Conservation of these resources needs to be a concern for all who
use or impact the cave environment as well as those communities
in karst areas which are dependant on ground water. There are many
excellent resources available for cave conservation so we won't
try to duplicate them here. Please take some time to browse through
the links on this page to learn more about cave conservation and
what you can do to contribute.
National Speleological Society (NSS)
Conservation committee provides an excellent set of
including conservation brochures, instructional papers for individual
and group involvement and links to a wide variety of other conservation
organizations and resources. Read the
to get a better understanding of conservation issues.
All caves are owned by someone,
whether it be a private property owner like a farmer, a business
such as a lumber company, or a local, state or federal government.
Respect the owner's property rights, make sure you have permission
to enter the cave, and observe any rules or restrictions
the owner may specify. Limited access cave lists, like the
, are maintained for many areas.
Caves in many states (including
) are protected by
that impose severe penalties for damage or removal from caves
of formations, cave life or historical artifacts. In addition
many caves are habitats for endangered species that are protected
by federal and state laws. Such caves may be closed during
specific seasons or, in a few cases, year round.
Avoid touching cave formations,
particularly with muddy gloves, clothing or boots - many
are quite fragile and mud on your hands can become embedded
in the formations. Formations can include features like flowstone
on walls and rimstone dams on the floor.
Stay on established trails
through the cave to avoid tracking mud into pristine area.
If you can't get into a passage without damaging formations,
look for another way around. In some cases it might be appropriate
to sacrifice a few formations to continue exploration, but
this is the exception and it is usually not your decision
to make - see the first two items above.
Never write or mark on cave
walls or other surfaces, and do not leave food, trash of
any kind, or human waste in the cave.
Adopt the NSS Motto: "Take
nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill
nothing but time." (and keep those footprints on the
A sampling of the many cave-related conservation organizations
are listed below:
- American Cave Conservation
Association (ACCA) - a national, non-profit association dedicated
to the protection of caves, karst lands and groundwater.
- Bat Conservation International
-formed to protect and restore bats and their habitats worldwide
teaching people to understand and value bats as essential allies
through education; protecting critical bat habitats and encouraging
others to join in conservation efforts; and advancing scientific
knowledge about bats, their conservation needs, and the ecosystems
that rely on them, through research.
- Cave Conservancy
of the Virginias - formed for the purpose of protecting and
managing caves and karst resources in Virginia and West Virginia
- Mid-Atlantic Karst Conservancy
- established for the purposes of preserving, ensuring access
to, acquiring, and managing caves and karst areas for conservation,
scientific study, and recreational caving; and education of landowners,
cavers, and the general public in the importance of karst resources
and ways to preserve them.
- Southeastern Cave Conservancy
Inc . - formed to acquire and manage caves for scientific
study, education of those persons interested in speleology, and
conservation of these resources.
- Texas cave Conservancy -
The TCC supports recreational use, not abuse, where appropriate.
Through the development of some cave preserves open for limited
public use, the long term goal of cave protection can better be
- West Virginia Cave Conservancy
(WVCC) - dedicated to preserving the cave and karsts resources
of West Virginia for future generations.