Dave Adams Posted November 9, 2003 Share Posted November 9, 2003 Someone above in this discussion has said, "several of the caves in question have been nominated as significant with regards to the Federal Cave Resource Protection Act of 1988. As such, distributing their locations on the internet is illegal." At best, this is a misinformed opinion, and at worst, a deliberate mistatement of fact. A reading of the act (see, for example, http://www.umsl.edu/~joellaws/ozark_caving/mss/fedlaw.htm ) shows that the relevant section is this: "SEC. 5. CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFO RMATION CONCERNING NATURE AND LOCATION OF SIGNIFICANT CAVES. (a) IN GENERAL.-Information concerning the specific location of any significant cave may not be made available to the public under section 552 of title 5, United States Code, unless the Se cretary determines that disclosure of such information would further the purposes of this Act and would not create a substantial risk of harm, theft, or destruction of such cave." Some organized cavers have cited this section as if it does actually prohibit the publication of the locations of any "sigificant cave" in *any* form, in print, visual media or via the internet, for public consumption, except perhaps by and for cavers themselves. Actually the statute mentioned (5 USC Sec. 552) is better known as the Freedom of Information Act and this clause in section 5 of the FCRPA was added after extensive lobbying by the NSS who were, perhaps justly, that someone could obtain the entire "significant cave" list with their locations via an FOIA request. The release of these caves locations via FOIA is the *only* form of publication made "illegal" under FCRPA. The managers of local, state or national lands may have a Memorandum Of Understanding with various grottoes or the community at large that references FCRPA, but these MOUs do *not* have the force of law, nor any impact on private publication in any form. I'm not going to debate the merits of the culture of secrecy that has grown up in caving circles over the last forty years, as there are cogent arguments on both sides. In many other fields, "security through obscurity" has been shown to be a failed approach, and this approach may be failing in regards to cave conservation as the awareness of caves increases among the general population. Education may be the only long-term solution; people have to be given the reasons to *care* about what happens to caves and the formations, wildlife and other resources therein. I just bristle when I see the FCRPA used as a bludgeon whenever someone who *does* car e about caves happens to run across a reference to a cave's location in some public forum. Cavers do not have a lock on ethical behavior, and the cavers who destoiyed these caches are as wrong as those who go into public libraries to deface books, magazi nes and other records that contain old locations for certain caves. There is no reason to assume that other visitors to a particular cave would not be as careful and conservation-minded as the organized cavers themselves. Work with landowners and manage rs to develop cave management plans if the activity at a particular cave concerns you, and help to gate, patrol or monitor it if you have to. But there are far too many caves to gate, patrol or monitor them all, so people need to be aware of special cond itions, wildlife and all the other factors that need protection. Geocachers also need to be aware that placing caches on protected land may run afoul of littering laws, which has happened here when some (above-ground) geocaches were removed by park personnel. Both sides need to be aware of the law that actually *applies* to this situation. //dna// ?? Quote Link to comment
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