Source: Code of Virginia - Chapter 10, downloaded from
on 28 November, 2003
§ 10.1-1000. Definitions.
As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different
"Board" means the Cave Board.
"Cave" means any naturally occurring void, cavity, recess,
or system of interconnecting passages beneath the surface of the earth
or within a cliff or ledge including natural subsurface water and
drainage systems, but not including any mine, tunnel, aqueduct, or
other man-made excavation, which is large enough to permit a person
to enter. The word "cave" includes or is synonymous with
cavern, sinkhole, natural pit, grotto, and rock shelter.
"Cave life" means any rare or endangered animal or other
life form which normally occurs in, uses, visits, or inhabits any
cave or subterranean water system.
"Commercial cave" means any cave utilized by the owner
for the purposes of exhibition to the general public as a profit or
nonprofit enterprise, wherein a fee is collected for entry.
"Gate" means any structure or device located to limit or
prohibit access or entry to any cave.
"Material" means all or any part of any archaeological,
paleontological, biological, or historical item including, but not
limited to, any petroglyph, pictograph, basketry, human remains, tool,
beads, pottery, projectile point, remains of historical mining activity
or any other occupation found in any cave.
"Owner" means a person who owns title to land where a cave
is located, including a person who owns title to a leasehold estate
in such land, and including the Commonwealth and any of its agencies,
departments, boards, bureaus, commissions, or authorities, as well
as counties, municipalities, and other political subdivisions of the
"Person" means any individual, partnership, firm, association,
trust, or corporation or other legal entity.
"Sinkhole" means a closed topographic depression or basin,
generally draining underground, including, but not restricted to,
a doline, uvala, blind valley, or sink.
"Speleogen" means an erosional feature of the cave boundary
and includes or is synonymous with anastomoses, scallops, rills, flutes,
spongework, and pendants.
"Speleothem" means a natural mineral formation or deposit
occurring in a cave. This includes or is synonymous with stalagmite,
stalactite, helectite, shield, anthodite, gypsum flower and needle,
angel's hair, soda straw, drapery, bacon, cave pearl, popcorn (coral),
rimstone dam, column, palette, flowstone, et cetera. Speleothems are
commonly composed of calcite, epsomite, gypsum, aragonite, celestite,
and other similar minerals.
(1979, c. 252, § 10-150.12; 1988, c. 891.)
§ 10.1-1001. Cave Board; qualifications; officers.
A. The Cave Board is continued within the Department of Conservation
and Recreation and shall consist of the Director of the Department
of Historic Resources, or his designee, serving in an ex officio capacity
and eleven citizens of Virginia appointed by the Governor for four-year
terms. Appointments shall be made on the basis of activity and knowledge
in the conservation, exploration, study and management of caves.
B. The Cave Board shall meet at least three times a year. Six members
shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. The Board
shall annually elect a chairman, vice-chairman and recording secretary
and such other officers as the Board deems necessary.
(1979, c. 433, §§ 9-152.1, 9-152.2; 1980, c. 745; 1984,
c. 750; 1985, c. 448; 1988, c. 891; 1989, c. 656.)
§ 10.1-1002. Powers and duties of Cave Board.
A. The Cave Board may perform all tasks necessary to carry out the
purposes of this chapter, including the following:
1. Accept any gift, money, security or other source of funding and
expend such funds to effectuate the purposes of this chapter.
2. Serve as an advisory board to any requesting state agency on matters
relating to caves and karst.
3. Conduct and maintain an inventory of publicly owned caves in Virginia.
4. Provide cave management expertise and service to requesting public
agencies and cave owners.
5. Maintain a current list of all significant caves in Virginia and
report any real and present danger to such caves.
6. Provide cave data for use by state and other governmental agencies.
7. Publish or assist in publishing articles, pamphlets, brochures
or books on caves and cave-related concerns.
8. Facilitate data gathering and research efforts on caves.
9. Advise civil defense authorities on the present and future use
of Virginia caves in civil defense.
10. Advise on the need for and desirability of a state cave recreation
11. Inform the public about the value of cave resources and the importance
of preserving them for the citizens of the Commonwealth.
B. The Cave Board shall have the duty to:
1. Protect the rare, unique and irreplaceable minerals and archaeological
resources found in caves.
2. Protect and maintain cave life.
3. Protect the ground water flow which naturally occurs in caves
from water pollution.
4. Protect the integrity of caves that have unique characteristics
or are exemplary natural community types.
5. Make recommendations to interested state agencies concerning any
proposed rule, regulation or administrative policy which directly
affects the use and conservation of caves in this Commonwealth.
6. Study any matters of special concern relating to caves and karst.
(1979, c. 252, § 10-150.11; 1979, c. 433, §§ 9-152.1,
9-152.3 to 9-152.5; 1980, c. 745; 1984, cc. 734, 750; 1985, c. 448;
1988, c. 891.)
§ 10.1-1003. Permits for excavation and scientific investigation;
how obtained; penalties.
A. In addition to the written permission of the owner required by
a permit shall be obtained from the Department of Conservation and
Recreation prior to excavating or removing any archaeological, paleontological,
prehistoric, or historic feature of any cave. The Department shall
issue a permit to excavate or remove such a feature if it finds with
the concurrence of the Director of the Department of Historic Resources
that it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth and that the applicant
meets the criteria of this section. The permit shall be issued for
a period of two years and may be renewed upon expiration. Such permit
shall not be transferable; however, the provisions of this section
shall not preclude any person from working under the direct supervision
of the permittee.
B. All field investigations, explorations, or recovery operations
undertaken under this section shall be carried out under the general
supervision of the Department and in a manner to ensure that the maximum
amount of historic, scientific, archaeologic, and educational information
may be recovered and preserved in addition to the physical recovery
C. A person applying for a permit pursuant to this section shall:
1. Be a historic, scientific, or educational institution, or a professional
or amateur historian, biologist, archaeologist or paleontologist,
who is qualified and recognized in these areas of field investigations.
2. Provide a detailed statement to the Department giving the reasons
and objectives for excavation or removal and the benefits expected
to be obtained from the contemplated work.
3. Provide data and results of any completed excavation, study, or
collection at the first of each calendar year.
4. Obtain the prior written permission of the owner if the site of
the proposed excavation is on privately owned land.
5. Carry the permit while exercising the privileges granted.
D. Any person who fails to obtain a permit required by subsection
A hereof shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Any violation of
subsection C hereof shall be punished as a Class 3 misdemeanor, and
the permit shall be revoked.
E. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any person in
any cave located on his own property.
(1979, c. 252, § 10-150.16; 1982, c. 81; 1984, c. 750;
1988, c. 891; 1989, c. 656.)
§ 10.1-1004. Vandalism; penalties.
A. It shall be unlawful for any person, without express, prior, written
permission of the owner, to:
1. Break, break off, crack, carve upon, write, burn, or otherwise
mark upon, remove, or in any manner destroy, disturb, deface, mar,
or harm the surfaces of any cave or any natural material which may
be found therein, whether attached or broken, including speleothems,
speleogens, and sedimentary deposits. The provisions of this section
shall not prohibit minimal disturbance for scientific exploration.
2. Break, force, tamper with, or otherwise disturb a lock, gate,
door, or other obstruction designed to control or prevent access to
any cave, even though entrance thereto may not be gained.
3. Remove, deface, or tamper with a sign stating that a cave is posted
or citing provisions of this chapter.
4. Excavate, remove, destroy, injure, deface, or in any manner disturb
any burial grounds, historic or prehistoric resources, archaeological
or paleontological site or any part thereof, including relics, inscriptions,
saltpeter workings, fossils, bones, remains of historical human activity,
or any other such features which may be found in any cave, except
those caves owned by the Commonwealth or designated as Commonwealth
archaeological sites or zones, and which are subject to the provisions
of the Virginia Antiquities Act (§ 10.1-2300
B. Entering or remaining in a cave which has not been posted by the
owner shall not by itself constitute a violation of this section.
C. Any violation of this section shall be punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
D. The provisions of this section shall not apply to an owner of
a cave on his own property.
(1979, c. 252, § 10-150.13; 1982, c. 81; 1988, c. 891.)
§ 10.1-1005. Pollution; penalties.
A. It shall be unlawful for any person, without express, prior, written
permission of the owner, to store, dump, litter, dispose of or otherwise
place any refuse, garbage, dead animals, sewage, or toxic substances
harmful to cave life or humans, in any cave or sinkhole. It shall
also be unlawful to burn within a cave or sinkhole any material which
produces any smoke or gas which is harmful to any naturally occurring
organism in any cave.
B. Any violation of this section shall be punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(1979, c. 252, § 10-150.14; 1982, c. 81; 1988, c. 891.)
§ 10.1-1006. Disturbance of naturally occurring organisms; scientific
collecting permits; penalties.
A. It shall be unlawful to remove, kill, harm, or otherwise disturb
any naturally occurring organisms within any cave, except for safety
or health reasons; however, scientific collecting permits may be obtained
from the Department.
B. Any violation of this section shall be punished as a Class 3 misdemeanor.
(1979, c. 252, § 10-150.15; 1988, c. 891.)
§ 10.1-1007. Sale of speleothems; penalties.
It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or offer for sale any
speleothems in this Commonwealth, or to export them for sale outside
the Commonwealth. Any violation of this section shall be punished
as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(1979, c. 252, § 10-150.17; 1982, c. 81; 1988, c. 891.)
§ 10.1-1008. Liability of owners and agents limited; sovereign
immunity of Commonwealth not waived.
Neither the owner of a cave nor his authorized agents acting within
the scope of their authority are liable for injuries sustained by
any person using the cave for recreational or scientific purposes
if no charge has been made for the use of the cave, notwithstanding
that an inquiry as to the experience or expertise of the individual
seeking consent may have been made.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to constitute a waiver
of the sovereign immunity of the Commonwealth or any of its boards,
departments, bureaus, or agencies.
(1979, c. 252, § 10-150.18; 1988, c. 891.)