Source: West Virginia Code, Updated with bills passed
through the 2003 2nd Extraordinary Session, downloaded from http://220.127.116.11/WVCODE/masterfrm3Banner.cfm
on November 21, 2003.
CHAPTER 20. NATURAL RESOURCES.
ARTICLE 7A. CAVE PROTECTION.
Unless the context in which used clearly requires
a different meaning, as used in this article:
(a) "Cave" means any naturally occurring
subterranean cavity. The word "cave" includes or is
synonymous with cavern, pit, pothole, well, sinkhole and grotto.
(b) "Commercial cave" means any cave with
improved trails and lighting utilized by the owner for the purpose
of exhibition to the general public as a profit or nonprofit enterprise,
wherein a fee is collected for entry.
(c) "Gate" means any structure or device
located to limit or prohibit access or entry to any cave.
(d) "Person or persons" means any individual,
partnership, firm, association, trust or corporation.
(e) "Speleothem" means a natural mineral
formation or deposit occurring in a cave. This includes or is
synonymous with stalagmites, stalactites, helictites, anthodites,
gypsum flowers, needles, angel's hair, soda straws, draperies,
bacon, cave pearls, popcorn (coral), rimstone dams, columns, palettes,
flowstone, et cetera. Speleothems are commonly composed of calcite,
epsomite, gypsum, aragonite, celestite and other similar minerals.
(f) "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.
§20-7A-2. Vandalism; penalties.
It is unlawful for any person, without express, prior,
written permission of the owner, to willfully or knowingly:
(a) 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
therein, including speleothems;
(b) Disturb or alter in any manner the natural condition
of any cave;
(c) 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
Any person violating a provision of this section
shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof,
shall be fined not less than one hundred fifty dollars nor more
than five hundred dollars, and in addition thereto, may be imprisoned
in the county jail for not less than ten days nor more than six
§20-7A-3. Sale of speleothems unlawful; penalties.
It is unlawful to sell or offer for sale any speleothems
in this state, or to export them for sale outside the state. A
person who violates any of the provisions of this section shall
be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall
be fined not less than one hundred fifty dollars nor more than
five hundred dollars and in addition thereto, may be imprisoned
in the county jail for not less than ten days nor more than six
§20-7A-4. Biological policy; penalties for violation.
It is unlawful to remove, kill, harm or disturb any
plant or animal life found within any cave: Provided, That scientific
collecting permits may be obtained from the director as provided
in section fifty, article two of this chapter. Gates employed
at the entrance or at any point within any cave shall be of open
construction to allow free and unimpeded passage of air, insects,
bats and aquatic fauna. A person who violates any provision of
this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction
thereof, shall be fined not less than two hundred dollars nor
more than five hundred dollars and in addition thereto, may be
imprisoned in the county jail for not less than fifteen days nor
more than six months.
§20-7A-5. Archaeology; permits for excavation; how obtained;
(a) No person may excavate, remove, destroy, injure
or deface any historic or prehistoric ruins, burial grounds, archaeological
or paleontological site including saltpeter workings, relics or
inscriptions, fossilized footprints, bones or any other such features
which may be found in any cave.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection
(a) of this section, a permit to excavate or remove archaeological,
paleontological, prehistoric and historic features may be obtained
from the director of natural resources. Such permit shall be issued
for a period of two years and may be renewed at expiration. It
is not transferable but this does not preclude persons from working
under the direct supervision of the person holding the permit.
A person applying for such a permit must:
(1) Provide a detailed statement to the director
of natural resources giving the reasons and objectives for excavation
or removal and the benefits expected to be obtained from the contemplated
(2) Provide data and results of any completed excavation,
study or collection at the first of each calendar year.
(3) Obtain the prior written permission of the director
of natural resources if the site of the proposed excavation is
on state-owned lands and prior written permission of the owner
if the site of such proposed excavation is on privately owned
(4) Carry the permit while exercising the privileges
A person who violates any provision of subsection
(a) of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon
conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars
nor more than five hundred dollars, and may be imprisoned in the
county jail for not less than ten days nor more than six months.
A person who violates any of the provisions of subsection (b)
of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction
thereof, shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor
more than five hundred dollars, and the permit herein authorized
shall be revoked.
§20-7A-6. Liability of owners and agents.
(a) 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 such features for recreational
or scientific purpose if the prior consent of the owner has been
obtained and if no charge has been made for the use of such features.
(b) An owner of a commercial cave is not liable for
an injury sustained by a spectator who has paid to view the cave,
unless such injury is sustained as a result of such owner's negligence
in connection with the providing and maintaining of trails, stairs,
electrical wires or other modifications, and such negligence is
the proximate cause of the injury.