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Caches in Caves

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I wanted to have a multi-cache that included a cave but the one cave suggested to me by our local grotto was almost instantly embroiled in a brou-ha-ha and so I abandoned the idea.


I understand that caves can be fragile places. Many people don't realize how slowly the earth can move and features that have taken literally eons to form can be ruined in moments.


But are all caves like that? Is there no cave that is the equivalent of a local park? A place that's lovely but not endangered? Surely, there must be some "beginner" caves somewhere, already past "saving" and ideal for newbies to explore? Why can't these caves be used for caching?


Again, I understand how caves can be ruined. As awful as that is, are there none that are already ruined that could be used to introduce people to caving?


I appreciate you coming here, Cavess, and opening up this topic.

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I think Fizzymagic's idea of a multicache is a great idea.


Cavess - I also think it would be agreat idea if the NSS would put together and post a one page document explaining the sensitivity of caves along with some dos and donts about how to treat a cave. Anyone hiding a cache in or around caves could include that in their cache and so educate anyone finding the cache.


But then I'm new to this and most of our Florida caves are under water so what do I know? ;-)

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I wanted to respond to Enfanta.


Yes, certainly there are certain caves that are able to sustain more impact than others, or caves that cavers refer to as 'tourist' or 'spelunker' caves. That is caves that have historically received heavy visitation. The best we, as cavers, can do to maintain these caves is schedule regular cave clean-up trips (one such cave I helped out at, over the course of 3 years, we pulled out 500 trash bags full of garbage).


Hopefully, in the spirit of cooperation between our two organizations, I can encourage our members to help identify these cave systems to geocachers.


At the same time, while these caves may be able to sustain a significant amount of impact, some of them are still very dangerous. One cave in Pennsylvania that contained a geocache was known to flood without warning, which had previously killed one person. In Utah just this week, a 17 year old girl fell to her death in an 'easy' cave. On one geocaching site I found the following exerpt from someone's geocaching hunt:


>OK I forgot that I didnt log this one. Found it about 3-4 weeks ago. I will have to say that although this is not a difficult cave...like xxxxx says...come prepared and BE CAREFUL!!! I actually injured myself in here because of my size. We used rope and the whole nine yards, but when you are going down the hole/crack to get to the cache the rock underneath is VERY slippery. My shoulders are pretty broad and I couldnt see anything below me and both of my feet slipped out from under me. I gripped onto both sides of the rock, but in doing so tore some muscles...not fun (I should have just let myself fall). I enjoyed this cache very much but was OOC for a few weeks while my injury was healing. Just goes to show you...even when you come prepared things can happen.


I've spent my life learing how to cave and cave-dive (explore submerged caves), and I have myself had a few near-misses.


Therefore, in addition to identifying caves that can sustain impact, these caves should also be safely explored by the novice. That said, all is not lost, and these cave DO exist. However, it is important that those placing the geocache would also be willing to include information about safe caving practices, such as:


ALWAYS wear a helmet with a chin-strap (so it doesn't leave you head during a fall). This would have saved the life of the girl in Utah.


Always carry three sources of light (I, myself, have had to rescue dozens of people who explored a cave with a candle!!!).


Wear appropriate clothing - good boots are a must on slippery rock.


ALWAYS tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. I have been guilty of not doing this, and one time the entrance of the cave I was in collapsed. If we had not been able to dig ourselves out, it would have been weeks or months before we were found.


Thanks for the great dialog, many thanks



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Just to through something else out about caving, Here is something we are dealing with in Central Oregon.


If you do read it, note the attitude of the cave climbing people.


And the respect they show to the environment.




And in this article, find out which group was instrumential in getting bouldering banned in the caves.




TTFN, logscaler


[This message was edited by logscaler on January 02, 2003 at 08:55 PM.]

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I just found this page so I am a bit behind, but I will try to catch up. I have read the thread over at the NSS disscusion board as well as this one.


It is nice to see a good thread here beetween the caving community and the Geo Cachers. I placed a Cache in a granite fault cave out in Colorado back in July of 2001. I was taken back by the response of the caving community. The cache was removed from the cave by members of a local grotto and I was flooded with e-mails that basicly said I wrong for posting this location on the Geo caching site and I should be shot ( slight exaggeration ). Of the 14 cave caches in the state of Colorado I have been directly involved in the posting of 10 of those under different names. Many of those were posted to spite the caving community that thought the could force caches out of caves they do not own and treat the Geo Caching community like second class citizens. Some of those were posted because I think caching in caves is an appropriate use of public land. To date there have been 232 hits on caves in the state with 166 of those being finds. Most Geo Cachers don't travel alone so It would be difficult to figure how many visitors to caves there have been because of this sport. I do belive finding a cache underground adds to the expereince of caching for some, and I will continue posting them. As for the qoute off of the Geo Caching site that Hazel mentioned in her last post I have gone caving with this person before and he is an experienced caver and this might have happened to anyone.


By being very involved in this conflict over the last year and a half I have come to see the other side of the disscussion and I understand that the posting of either dangerous or fragile caves can be of concern if some idiot gets a hold of the location. There are bad apples in every sport. What can you do, Caves should be seen by people or what good are they. I enjoyed reading this ( CIVIL ) disscussion.




[This message was edited by Vader on January 03, 2003 at 02:40 PM.]

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Originally posted by logscaler:

Just to through something else out about caving, Here is something we are dealing with in Central Oregon.


If you do read it, note the attitude of the cave climbing people.


And the respect they show to the environment.



No ****, these cave climbers are permanently driving studs and bolts into the walls, destroying vegetation, spray painting graffiti and urinating in caves? And they are complaining that someone is hiding a tupperware container nearby?

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I don't post here often, and I have less than 50 total cache and benchmark finds. However, I see caves as being very fragile environments and I would never place a cache in one or post the coordinates of a cave online.


In my opinion, I think that the Geocaching.com rules / FAQ should specifically state that that placing caches in caves is not allowed, and I believe that any requests to place a cache in any cave should be denied.


Many cachers will undoubtedly disagree with me, but I feel that caves are simply too sensitive, and any jerk with a GPS and a computer could come to this website and see coordinates and go to the cave and damage it. There are lots of other less-fragile environments to place caches in in my opinion.



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Save the:





Natural Springs


Archeological sites

Historical buildings

Roman ruins

us from the preservation minded

I say take a picture and move on. If it disappears, oh well. What is the use of saving things for our posterity if they won't be able to use it either?


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In my opinion, I think that the Geocaching.com rules / FAQ should specifically state that that placing caches in caves is not allowed, and I believe that any requests to place a cache in any cave should be denied.


Think before you post. Our founding fathers had a certain class of people in mind when they made the Electorial College. You are very close to being one of them.


I have a cave cache and I'd be willing to bet that even you with your ban them all attitude would admit that it's not a bad thing and that geocachers in this case could do some good. But I won't hold my breath, and I wouldn't bet more than the change in my pocket. Reason is not a gift everyone has.


Wherever you go there you are.

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Dear All,


I just wanted to make some comments in regard to the continuing discussion on this thread.


With regard to Cashew Nut's comments about cave climbers - we cavers have been fighting the use of certain Oregon caves for climbing routes for years. We are not the cave 'climbers' (we prefer to go down, rather than up, in caves). Indeed, we've been fighting many of the problems you discuss (particularly the excessive use of bolts and chalk) for a decade now, but unforunately climbers outweight cavers in numbers and financials. It's been an uphill battle.


Now, with regards to Vader's post. I'm familiar with the history of cavers and geocachers in Colorado, and I think it's unfortunate that Vader's interactions began with perhaps some of the less even-handed of Colorado's cavers. However, I still believe that if we are willing to keep an open mind and work together, we can resolve these issues. So, Vader, please email me and let us begin a discussion of your ideas.

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Geocachers, a MUST read thread...




Good thread, ouch!


Seems Geocachers will be directly responsible for leading a hoard of spray painting, bat killing, Beavis and Buttheaded vandals, just looking for pristine caves to ransack and pee in.

It's possible!


Cavers don't want sensitive cave locations posted on the internet, they fear injuries, vandalism and denied access will result. While I think it's a bit of an overeaction, and geocachers make a convenient and locatable target, I would defer to their wishes and look at things from their point of view.


It was very difficult for me to get the cavers motivation, since I'm claustrophobic and damp, cold, dark holes, filled with rabid bats are not very appealing. One of my circle DIED from rabies, likely from caving:-(


Then I realized.. I HAVE a cave. Well, it's one of those sunny ones, on a hill, with a beautiful sheltered view. I've been maintaining it for nearly 20 years, picking up garbage, scraping candle wax, erasing the graffiti carved into the soft rock. I was really hurt and angry when someone broke the opening wider. Anyway, I would never post the location of this "cave" on the internet, enough kids go there already and get drunk, make a fire and throw bottles off the cliff. From what I gather, this cave is not fragile or rare at all, but I'm pretty attached to it not getting more trashed. AFAIK, the coordinates never were on the internet and look what happened!


I think it would help relations if geocachers agreed to not reveal coords publicly about sensitive caves. Give us a few non fragile ones to enjoy, as an intro, but we should STOP freaking the cave community out. Let the perception of blame go to the real vandals and culprits.

After all, cavers like to find hidden places as well, problem is you can't just archive a cave and create another when the worst happens.


Whatever the caving community is, they have been around a long time, spending a great deal of energy, politically, scientifically and technically, on a very limited and unique resource.


As far as the freedom to go anywhere and discover anything on public land, I agree with Vader, in principle. To share something wonderful with the uninitiated is good. Glad I know more about caves, but I can understand the fear of potential abuses. The fear of loss is real for cavers who seem to have a long history of obstacles, and a tenous future.


The highway is public but you need a license to drive. The sidewalk is free but try walking down your street without clothes. If anyone is really interested in caves maybe they will recognize the value of an experienced guide.


Caves have always been mysterious, secret and forbidden places to the uninitiated... on

many levels....seems they still are.




"There's no need to be afraid of strange noises in the night. Anything that intends you harm... will stalk you silently."

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Originally posted by Greenjeens:

I think it would help relations if geocachers agreed to not reveal coords publicly about sensitive caves.


There isn't much that geocachers can do since the site publishes the coordinates to everyone whether they are geocachers or not. The only alternative we have are members only caches, but I can understand the reluctance to use this option, since it will also prevent most geocachers from seeing the coordinates as well.

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Just my 2 cents.I enjoy caving as well as Geocaching as well as hunting and fishing,I enjoy all the GREAT OUtDOORS,I am not a Treehugger(Enviromentalist)per say, although that is what most of my friends call me, "Treehugger".I protect the cave system that I know about in our area,180 Known Caves and numerous others,I would never put a cache in a cave.Altough the Virtual Cache System might work well here,the cavers and the cachers both benifit,as well as the General Public that enjoy Caves.I have been to almost all the caves in the West and Midwest and now am looking toward the East and Mammouth Cave.The ecosystem here took a hit like you say by people who wanted to fill those sink holes and caves and caverns with trash,you are right there.The way we are using up our natural resource's is (there is no word),We use more than we replace and before long.........Maybe I am a TREEHUGGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am not giving away the location of the Big Buck,Catfish hole,gold mine or favorite cave's, That is in my opinion being wise with what you have been given resposiblities of.Stand up And Take Responsibilities for your own actions,and your place in this enviroment,WE ALL LIVE HERE..... icon_wink.gif

When all else fails Geotry again.


[This message was edited by Trailblazer # 1 on January 05, 2003 at 11:08 AM.]

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While i'll admit that I haven't read all of the postings concering the placing of caches in caves....I will put in my 2 cents worth here.


I am the leader of a BSA Troop here in Oklahoma City.

We've gone splunking before w/trained professionals who were able to show us safely through a wonderful wild cave in the NW part of our state. It was a great time - but the basic rules were in effect then as they are at all times. Take only pictures, leave only footprints.

You don't pick up rocks, shells, artifcacts, etc...that you might come across while in a cave (for example) simply because if everyone did this, damage beyond repair would happen.


Now - dealing w/placing caches in caves....Personally, I think it's a poor idea. Why? because I think the use of a wild cave (a cave that doesn't have guided tours, etc...) could be tremendously dangerous to the average person who really doesn't know how to deal with exploring a cave - they have just one thing on their minds - that is finding the cache - in fact, I would doubt that much time at all is spent noticing the beauty of the cave. I could be wrong of course, but I am probably not far off when I say that a good number of folks that would go looking in a cave don't have the proper gear to do that - don't have the respect (because they are not properly educated in caving perhaps??) for the cave that they should have, and simply don't see the problem with moving rocks - digging perhaps, hammering, etc...


My opinion then would be - take only pictures, leave only footprints, and leave exploring caves to those who are trained to do so, and could take you safely into that environment.


Caves are a fascinating "world" - I love to explore them - but I would still vote to not allow caches into caves...



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I love caves and know where there are three all are Talus Caves. I found them myself because I love to explore. I'm sure that other people stumble on to secret caves as was probably the one in New Mexico. If this was that important why was it not protected some how? Maybe a sign explaining the situation and liability of destruction at the least.

What are digs? Someone on your web site said they have a dig this sound distructive.

These secret caves I believe should be posted as dangerous or sensitive with warnings. I think if this were done most people would act appropriately.

I believe you are right that most of these caves should be protected but not by secrecy.


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Thank you to everyone who is continuing this constructive dialog. As a result, many cavers are beginning to view geocachers with a new respect - and many have said that they too are interested in possibly geocaching and working with local geocachers in their area.


At this time, I would also like to reply to Rut's comments.


>What are digs? Someone on your web site said they have a dig this sound distructive.


Many cave entrances and passages, at some time or another, have been clogged by sediments and debris through geologic action. Using their knowledge of geology and hydrology, cavers may sometimes dig through these sediments to discover new caves. Sometimes this may have negative impacts on the cave system, such as increased airflow - but cavers attempt to monitor these changes with data-loggers and other devices, and mitigate such changes. The results are generally positive however, allowing more cave access for bats as roosting habitats, and in some cases these digs reveal extensive cave systems. Lechuguilla Cave in Carlsbad Caverns National Park was discovered in this way. The cave is one of the most phenomenally decorated caves on the planet (and has been featured in National Geographic magazine). If this cave had not be discovered by digging, we would not have known that this incredible 108 mile-long system existed and was threatened by oil drilling. Through it’s discovery, the caving community began a campaign that resulted in an act of Congress to prevent oil drilling in this region.


>These secret caves I believe should be posted as dangerous or sensitive with warnings. I >think if this were done most people would act appropriately.


Unfortunately, posting that a cave is sensitive or dangerous actually encourages people to enter it. Simply posting ‘Warning: Dangerous cave’, have encouraged people to enter because a) they now know there’s a cave there, and :cool: “Ooo… it’s dangerous, must be exciting”. We were recently asked to remove just such a sign by the Forest Service in Utah because people were entering an EXTREMELY dangerous cave system (over 1200 feet deep with several pits >300 feet deep) purely because the sign attracted them to it.


>I believe you are right that most of these caves should be protected but not by secrecy


Unfortunately the only way to protect caves properly is to gate them. This thereby limits access by those individuals that ARE careful, know proper caving techniques and respect the environment. There are other problems – no gate is vandal proof. This has been show time and time again, where a cave has been gated to protect it. When knowledge of the cave leaks out, people will come and attempt to breech the gate – I’ve seen explosives used, sledgehammers, the front-ends of trucks ripped off trying to pull off the gate, mining the rock out from around the gate. You name it, it’s been done – and with enough perseverance, any gate can be breeched. Finally is the cost issue – Missouri contains over 7,000 known caves. An average cave gate can cost between $2,000 and $40,000 – and that doesn’t include the man/woman-hours required to install it. That is ONE state, making it simply impossible to gate all the caves that would need such protection.

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I still find it hard to believe that a cave vandal would search the internet for coordinates and go out of his way to get a gps and then find the cave and ruin it. I don't think a cache in a cave is a good idea though. I don't want to go in some damp, dark bat infested hole in the ground when the bats might be carrying some deadly virus just to find a cache.

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Going down the list of messages, I have yet to see any geocache vs cave damage example. What does a bunch of kids vandalizing a cave have to do with geocaching? Its sounding more like cavers don't want ANYBODY in their area.


If it is dislike of geocaching because it is bringing more people into remote places, it is only going to increase. One good thing I see happening with geocaching is that as more and more people partake of it, public land managers will be forced to accomidate us taxpayers wanting to visit our land.


Whoever owns the land at a cave entrance will have to deal with protecting it. Placing blame on geocachers as a whole only invites someone to become indignant and do something stupid in retaliation.


Steve Bukosky N9BGH

Waukesha Wisconsin

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While I have never been in a 'dry' cave, back when I was young and foolish I logged more than 200 hours diving in North Florida's underground springs, and I do have a keen appreciation of their beauty, fragility and danger.


My question is this: Given the age in which we live, do you think it's possible to keep the cave locations secret indefinitely?


It seems to me that you are in the same position as the Little Dutch Boy; too many leaks, not enough fingers.


I wish you all the best - Aristo


I've been going in circles my whole life. May as well make a hobby of it.

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I think there are 2 seperate issues here. One is cave secrecy and the other is Geo Caching in caves. As for cave secrecy I agree with the last post that locations of caves will leak out and there isn't a whole lot the NSS can do about that. There are just to many outlets for information out there. I think in a perfect wolrd as far as cavers are concerned they don't want locations to become public information. When it comes to Geo Caching I think it is important to notice that someone from the NSS is trying to work with us and they are willing to give and take a little. Total secrecy won't happen here at the Geo Caching site ( unless the managers at this site, don't allow us to post cave caches any more ) I think some cavers realize this and are trying to comprmise so we can both protect the sport we enjoy. Cave secrecy is a differnt issue and one I feel strongly about, but I think that it's one for the NSS disscussion board.



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Originally posted by sbukosky:

Going down the list of messages, I have yet to see any geocache vs cave damage example. What does a bunch of kids vandalizing a cave have to do with geocaching?


(Rambling Rant to Follow)


GPS is a powerful tool for sharing location data and Geocaching is a very open book for anyone. Qualifications and peer review are nonexistant.


I think Cavers along with land managers, park rangers and others are suddenly faced with an unknowable, yet organized group creating a new land use. Imagining the worst, projecting it into the future. I would have to agree that the odds of a little damage caused by a "green" geocacher are likely, but hardly an ecological disaster. Too bad a course or some mentoring couldn't proceed every new geocacher's first hunt and ESPECIALLY the placing of caches.


I've read the pojected fears...

What if civil war walls were rearranged to hide caches? What if cache coordinates brought vandals to archeological sites? What if "bad people" search our geocaching site for pristine cave's to loot?

What if winged monkeys started flying out of my button?


OK, some of these what ifs are more probable than others:-)

More likely, one of the Cub Scouts, who went on an organized cave exploration, tells his loser, alcoholic, cousin about this cool place to go and the party starts. Did the scout leave a log, a cache, a trail of dates and comments? No.

Will anyone ever know the events that led up to this cave getting trashed? Probably not.


It's playing the odds, the more "outsiders" who know of a place, the greater the risk for spoiling...look at North and South America...jeez, that's the history of the world. I wonder if anyone tried to ban MAPS for the same reasons?


Without progress though, we would all be living in... caves...hummm?


Anyway, I think cavers just work by preferring to personally judge who is respectful of fragile environments and who is ready to explore safely. IMO, they are trying to nip in the bud the creation of another database of caves, with a future potential for misuse.


Yes, anyone with a GPS in hand who logs or finds a cave cache is suspect, easily tracked and potentially guilty of inappropriately sharing secrets, even if it has not happened yet. Interesting!





"There's no need to be afraid of strange noises in the night. Anything that intends you harm... will stalk you silently."

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Time and again we have these debates. The truth is that Cavers protect caves so others can enjoy them. Archieologists (mutulated spelling) protect sites for the same reasons and so on.


The fact is they are protecting them from the evil morons among us. That 1% of the population who would take hairspray and decimate the bats in a cave. Maybe the percentage is more or maybe less. But the real probem is that part of the population and how to deal with them.


Unfortunatly you can't just pick them out of the crowd. If you could we could beat the living snot out of them and cure them the old fashioned way. So special interest groups end up trying to ban everyone to try and make sure the evil few are kept from doing their damage.


Simple as that but with no simple solution.


Wherever you go there you are.

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Howdy All,

I am a caver with a new-found interest in Geocaching. I am still a caver first. One point in this discussion is degree of frailty. I feel cachers still don't appreciate just how delicate many cave environments are. Many caves were formed and decorated by a chain of events that will never, I say again, never be in place again. For those of you that have followed any of the NSS discussion group, you can tell we have internal problems with this as well. All visitation creates impact, impact that some caves will absolutly not tolerate. This is at least some of the reason for our attempts to keep them secret. Some Cachers seem to think that all caves will eventually become public. The truth is, many caves are so remote and well hidden, they have yet to be discovered. Even with folks looking for them nearly everywhere. Nature is protecting them from all of us. With the invention of the GPS, If one person finds this cave and posts the location for all to see, that cave has been stripped of it's natural protection.

I also agree that many caves cannot be hurt much more than they already have. These are the ones that we take the Boy Scouts with misguided relatives to.(good point,Greenjeens) These caves are the ones that would be great starting places for Geocaching activities. As in the caving community, anyone with more interest(and showing an understanding and appreciation for the cave environment) could be shown more delicate caves.

I am among those that would like to act as a bridge between our two interests. I have spent much time following the discussion and can tell that many of us are like-minded individuals.

I hope we can find a middle ground that will both enhance Geocaching and protect the caves that we care so much about.

Thanks for your time and consideration,



[This message was edited by 4georges on January 06, 2003 at 12:13 PM.]

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When I started geocaching a month or two ago I searched the forums for a discussion such as this.


Why? Because both my parents were cavers, going way back (Mom bottle-fed me in a cave once) and I've been caving my entire life.


For the very same reasons one doesn't post their real full name and address on web forums, I believe coordinates to caves should not be publicly posted on the Web.


Of the over 270 million people in the US alone, the 1% of vandals, that's over 2.7 million people WILL use the free information and may do harm.


In the Geocaching community, there are people that hijack travel-bugs, move caches and deplete caches.


Do you think the same level of respect should be shown to a cave--an environment that CAN'T be replaced or returned to it's former glory?


I would not go so far as to say the Geocache placement guidelines should prohibit such caches--many peolpe don't read the guidelines anyway.


I DO have believe that any cache in reference to a cave should require written proof from the land owners rather (than assumed) before it's approved.


I believe the guideline should be such that caves that are already regularly accessed by the public only be considered for caches.


Those caves are obvious to all. They're formations are all broken and litter the floor, the local gas stations sell them, there are beer cans and signs of fires around and an obvious trail from the road.


The issue isn't the caches themselves as much as it's the PUBLIC posting of the coordinates to the world!


We ALL are responsible for the end result of our actions (regardless of what organization you belong to), and if we publicly post cave coordinates, others may anonymously do irrepairable harm.


As a Geocacher, I don't want public posting of fragile resources on the Web. As a community, we shouldn't endorse harm.


As a life-time member of the NSS, I know caves are one of the most fragile resources on the planet. I know increased traffic promotes harm.


Sure, many have mentioned there are internal issues discussed on the NSS forums regarding cave usage, just as we discuss similar issues here.


However, the overall concept and mission of the NSS is to promote cave conservation.


Our recreation is NOT inhibited by respecting such and promoting conservation ourselves. On the other hand, if we develop a bad reputation as such, property owner acceptance of caches will decrease, caves will become offlimits to all, and our recreation will diminish.


I can't think of one single legitimate reason not to endorse the NSS's desires as a Geocacher.


Unfortunately, the good suggestions of making cave caches puzzle caches or the like requires the cache placer to know of the concept, which again, given how few read these forums and the guidelines is unlikely in my book. It also means that John Q. Public-destroyer simply has to solve the same riddle--no big deal.


Sorry this is so long, but after reading the entire thread, I realized the point wasn't clear.


Simply, posting coordinates of cave entrances or trails does harm to those caves. The NSS has a decades long history demonstrating this. They also have a decades long history trying many solutions. Secrecy has been the best so far.


We come along and suddenly undermine what they've spent decades trying to accomplish!


Thanks for your consideration one and all,




- mildly active lifetime member of the NSS

- very active newer member of Geocaching


PS: For those scared of bats, realize they aren't disease-ridden rodents. They are closer to humans genetically, and do wonders to minimize disease through insect feeding here in the US! There are great links on the web with more good bad info.

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recently, in reading this discussion i felt it pertinent to visit the site www.caves.org and review their discussion of geocaching.


the general consensus is that the caves are delicate ecosystems and need to be protected. i dont take issue with this statement in its self but rather with the appearent implication that neither geocachers nor the general population understand the potential ecological implications of visiting a cave.


this is the part of the discussion i take issue with, as a group i would doubt that there are very many cachers that are not informal enviromentalists. further to this i think it is absurd to think that by posting the coordinates of a cave on this particular site that unwanted traffic is going to increase. i doubt that the sort of people who would trash the a cave, or any other part of the enviroment for that matter, hang around this site looking for new areas to poison. that is not to say that there arent geocachers who deliberately damage the enviroment, as there are, for that matter there are cavers who deliberately damage the enviroment, but i would suspect that the percentage of eviro-terriorists who are cachers is less than the percentage of the regular population


while i can appreciate the efforts to maintain caves and their inherent geological value, i think that the caving community is barking up the wrong tree and their conservation efforts would be better spent educating the potion of the population who really doesnt understand the processes under which caves develop.


i guess in short i think that the idea that posting the coordinates of a cave or any other enviromentally sensitive area on this site opr any other site for that matter would contribute to its destruction is ridiculess and half thought out.

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I've tried writing this post 3 or 4 times, but always end up not posting it. Maybe this time...


First, let me say that I don't like the idea of putting caches in caves. I certainly don't want to see any cave system damaged.




I guess what really rubs me the wrong way is the idea of secrecy, and the concept that to prevent a few vandals from doing damage we must make caves off-limits to all (punishing everyone EXCEPT the vandals). Banning 270 million people from the enjoyment of caves to prevent a few from doing damage is taking the quick and easy way out. A far better solution is to heavily fine THOSE WHO ARE DOING THE DAMAGE. Confiscate all of their gear (including vehicles). My guess is that after a few $5,000 fines, climbers will find another area, and vandals will think twice. Then use that money to help in your preservation efforts.


RJFerret says that "As a life-time member of the NSS, I know caves are one of the most fragile resources on the planet. I know increased traffic promotes harm." While I don't disagree, imagine if all lakes and streams were suddenly off-limits to everyone. There is perhaps no more sensitive resource to humans than our fresh water. And yet, lakes and streams are open to all. They, too, are irreplaceable, but we are allowed to enjoy them. (And, yes, I am aware of the link between caves and fresh water supplies.)


You are also toying with far greater issues. Freedom of speech comes quickly to mind.


I appreciate your coming here to discuss mutual issues, but I think you are preaching to the choir here. While your 13,000 members are very passionate about caves, many of our 26,000 members are equally passionate about our environment as a whole (caves included).


I also appreciate your bringing all of this to our attention, but you must also bring it to the attention of our legal system to help ensure that those who do harm caves are punished appropriately. I am sure that you are doing just that.


Again, please don't misunderstand my point. I agree that placing caches in caves is probably not a smart thing to do (for all of the reasons mentioned above), but I am not sure that your methods are the most productive. Either way, good luck in your efforts.



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I've been staying away from this one because I had nothing of value to add.


Well I still don't, but...


If cavers want us out of the (not their) caves then whats there to discuss? I say we shut down this site and any like it because of the damage caches cause the enviroment as a whole and not just caves.


I visited the NSS site or caves.org, however. I didn't see anything about you being a government group, are you? If so can you point me in the direction where I can read about that?




So far so good, somewhat new owner of a second/new Garmin GPS V 20 plus finds so far with little to no problem. We'll see what happens when there are leaves on the trees again.

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I wanted to respond to Geospotter's comments.


With regard to secrecy, yes this has been the most effective tool to protect caves. However, it does not mean that we are banning 270 million people from the enjoyment of caves. We all started as non-cavers (well, apart from those lucky enough to be born into caver families), not knowing where the caves were. But by showing that we can be conscientious about cave conservation and proper caving techniques, we become trusted by others and given the location of caves. That's all it takes to see these caves. Sometimes gaining that trust takes a while, and I've seen people leave disgruntled because they weren't show where the caves were immediately. I personally moved to the US after caving in Europe for 8 years. Even with that level of experience, it took almost a year before someone would take me caving. But that's the game, and with perseverance, you will be accepted and trusted.


Now as to punishing and fining those responsible for the damage. The caving community worked very hard to have the Federal Cave Resource Protection Act passed by congress in 1988. This law makes it a felony, with fines, against those who damage significant caves on Federal lands. The act also states that "the specific location of a significant cave may not be made available to the public". This includes GPS coordinates.


At this time, there ARE caches out there which are in significant caves on Federal lands. However, we have chosen NOT to do anything about this at this time, as I believe the road to a solution is through comprimise and our two groups working together. Eventually I hope to guide those cachers to this discussion, ask them to read the comments by other cachers, and then ask them to remove the cache.

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I guess that I need some education.When I hide a cache I post the cordinates of the cache,and unless I put the cache just inside the cave mouth,how would I get the cordinates on my gpsr if I were down inside the cave, unless there is some super antenna that I have never heard of.I have not put a cache in a cave and probably wouldnt look for one for the same reason,My gpsr dosent work underground.


I'm a man and I can change if I have to,I guess.

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If I may please slightly modify your quote to prove a point. Hopefully, it will show you what I am trying to say.


Originally posted by Cavess and modified by geospotter:

With regard to secrecy, yes this has been the most effective tool to protect lakes. However, it does not mean that we are banning 270 million people from the enjoyment of lakes. We all started as non-swimmers (well, apart from those lucky enough to be born into swimming families), not knowing where the lakes were. But by showing that we can be conscientious about lake conservation and proper swimming techniques, we become trusted by others and given the location of lakes. That's all it takes to see these lakes. Sometimes gaining that trust takes a while, and I've seen people leave disgruntled because they weren't show where the lakes were immediately. I personally moved to the US after swimming in Europe for 8 years. Even with that level of experience, it took almost a year before someone would take me swimming. But that's the game, and with perseverance, you will be accepted and trusted.


Do you see?


The act also states that "the specific location of a significant cave may not be made available to the public". This includes GPS coordinates.


While the act may prevent some from making the locations public, it can do nothing to stop the public from discussing those locations (First Amendment rights).


I believe the road to a solution is through compromise and our two groups working together.


I agree.




Please define "significant cave".

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Originally posted by Cavess:

The act also states that "the specific location of a significant cave may not be made available to the public". This includes GPS coordinates.


There's something scary in that. Oh well, of the few caves in western Wisconsin, I have been on the lookout for new ones, though I'm sure any are on private land. If I find one, as long as I don't do a Floyd Collins, I'll let you know first and promise not to make it a cache. icon_wink.gif


Steve Bukosky N9BGH

Waukesha Wisconsin

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Just a fast question to the cavers in this group.


It is my understanding some of you have said that you have digs in the caves to open up new areas to explore.


Do you guys have certified archeologist doing the digging or are you just digging and destroying history?


I do not know where you all are, as it seems to be a secret, but out here in Oregon, in any

cave on public land, it is ILLEGAL for the general public to dig in the caves.

An example is in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. A person and his wife from Oregon

where caught digging and removing items from a cave. Total fine? Over 2.6 million dollars and time in jail. And if I remember right, native tribes to the area can even halt digs on private ground if they can prove historical use.


How do you guys justify digging for a new cave without going through the EIS process?


TTFN, logscaler.

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The full Federal Cave Resource Protection Act of 1988 from uscode.house.gov


It's easier to read this version at caves.org


My only comments:

This only covers specific caves, on Federal land. (This was mentioned above, just thought it's worth repeating)


I don't see any fines or penalties for disclosing the location of a protected cave, only for damaging or removing resources from them.


Tae-Kwon-Leap is not a path to a door, but a road leading forever towards the horizon.

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Originally posted by Cavess:

Now as to punishing and fining those responsible for the damage. The caving community worked very hard to have the Federal Cave Resource Protection Act passed by congress in 1988. This law makes it a felony, with fines, against those who damage significant caves on Federal lands. The act also states that "the specific location of a significant cave may not be made available to the public". This includes GPS coordinates.


For clarification, confideniality applies ONLY to Federal Agencies not revealing the location of caves, like not listing them on maps and brochures.

This has nothing to do with wht the public shares or discusses. Correct?


Don't you think the ommission, in the context of GPS coords, is likely to inflame and mislead?


However, dissemination of data, wether from federal or private databases would have the same effect!

I assume every map-maker and guide book writer has been contacted with a similar plea to withold location info?



(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"


As for the Punishment of lawbreakers and vandals. The few rangers are spread out across lots of territory. I seldom encounter any.

If the activities are done at night, off-season, and in more remote areas, the odds of catching anyone is miniscule.


As to the the caches already in significant caves. Proving cachers created direct or indirect damage would be difficult to prove.

I haven't seen much evidence that a cache/cave has created harm? However, any damage that did occur would cast a cloud of suspicion on the whole geocaching group. Interesting issue concerning public and personal responsibility.

Jeez, who wants to get blamed unfairly?


I see the value of secrecy and no caches in fragile caves... it's just the proactive agenda, with the focus on the visual geocaching group, that takes thinking through.




"There's no need to be afraid of strange noises in the night. Anything that intends you harm... will stalk you silently."

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Time to think "outside the cave".


Have you tried other possible methods to secure caves?


If a gate averages $21,000, this gives you several options --


Hire more rangers (and get some of that money back in income taxes).


An Adopt-A-Cave program with local volunteers regularly monitoring caves (you might even pay them a stipend)


Solar-powered video cameras to monitor cave entrances/interiors. We use them here to monitor eagle nests.


Hire more rangers


Buy the land/cave (I know you are doing that)


Scare tactics (my personal favorite) What keeps me out of caves? The fear of snakes, bears, large cats, rabid skunks, raccoons, porcupines, etc. (Bats don't bother me in the least.) You never know what you're going to meet up with in a cave. When I get near a cave, just the thought of histoplasmosis keeps me out.


You might consider posting a poll in these forums to see how people feel about having Jeremy not post cave caches.


A couple of other issues come to mind. If there are trails leading to the caves that you explore, then I doubt that their location is a secret. If there are no trails, in your zeal to pursue your caving hobby you may be trampling sensitive vegetation with your bushwhacking. But that's a whole other discussion.



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It isn't easy somtimes as there are lots of things to consider, and every cave is unique.


For example, gating some caves has a bad impact on the bat population. It's difficult to come up with a design that will keep out humans, but will continue to let bats (and other wildlife) use this natural resource as nature intended them to.


Electronic monitoring is tough. Caves aren't known for their bright interiors, so cameras and solar power units don't work so well, let alone getting that information out to someone who can do something with it.


More rangers could help, but the loaded cost of the manpower makes it prohibitive in most cases.


As for the fear topic, add the fact unprepared people often get hurt in caves...pits, false floors, flash flooding, losing direction, losing light, bad air...vicious animals are the least of the worries. Cave rescues don't do a whole lot for the cave environment either.


The fact is, the general public should stay clear of wild caves. It's hard on the environment and can be pretty dangerous. If you really want to explore, hook up with a local caving group and learn the ropes.



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Originally posted by nincehelser:

Geospotter, I don't get your lakes and caves analogy. They are very, very different environments.


Quite a few people know how to swim, and the dangers involved. Very few know how to cave, or the dangers involved.






My lake/cave analogy came out of the post where caves are described as important natural resources that need to be protected, and that the best way to protect them is to keep people away from them.


My point was that lakes are perhaps more important natural resources that also need protecting, but we do not protect them by keeping people away.



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Cave environments and lake environments are very different.


Lakes can take quite a wide variety of conditions and are pretty robust. They can be harmed, sure, but they can and do handle all kinds of situations.


Cave environments are very fragile because the conditions have been so consistant and pristine for such a long time. The slightest change in airflow, temperature, lighting, or humidity can throw the cave environment out of whack. Where do you expect the cave critters to go if things go bad? Most don't have the ability to relocate, so they die. Cave formations can also take a hit if the environment changes too much.


To sum up, cave environments are far too unique and fragile to even begin to compare them to lakes.

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This thread keeps proving to be interesting.


So we need to protect caves.

Why? They are fragile and can be damaged by a single fingerpring.

This doesn't really answer the question.

Why protect them?

So they will remain undisturbed?

Undisturbed from what?

The 1%?


So... the cave will remain undamaged?

In a million years the cave won't be here.

In a billion tops it will be gone.

There will be new ones to replace it. If you know the least bit about geology you know this but won't live to see it.


So you want the cave undamged in the here an now.

Again why?

If nobody can see it because it's hidden and secrete why does it matter?

But the thing is, people are seeing the cave. The same people are seeking out new ones.


Clearly if secracy is the best protection for a cave, then nobody should be looking for new ones.

Not even cavers. Logic demands this.


But cavers are looking for them just the same.



The answer give or take, is because caves are beautiful, they are facinating, works of natural art and wonder. They are worth seeing. They are worth seeking out.


The controversy and friction comes from some of the real ansers to the questions I posed.


So I will answer the questions myself.


Why do caves need protected? So their beauty can be seen by man. Specificaly Cavers who will protect their secrete from everyone else to protect the cave.


That is the rub. 99% of us would enjoy the same things the cavers enjoy. But we pay the price for the 1%. Except for the exclusive caver sect. They alone are the gatekeepers. Like the great claw in the sky they choose who will go and who will not go...


It's not just cavers though. Enviromentalists when given to extremes will do the same for the beauty of nature. So will Archieologists, and Historians.


And so on.


It's we humans who set the value of everything on this planet. It's our planet. There is a solution and a balance but if the scale tips too far on the side of protection you can bet it will be re-set to the other extreme.


It is better for one man to have seen the beauty of a thing than to let it go into oblivion unseen and unknown. You have to believe that at least some of mankind has a fundamental worth to think this way.


Wherever you go there you are.

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Originally posted by nincehelser:

You're missing the point.


No, nincehelser, I get the point. And I agree with you. Caves are fragile and should have some form of protection. Let me repeat so that you don't miss my point. I AGREE.


Where we disagree is in the method.



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Cave environments are fragile. To enjoy them without causing substantial damage, you need to learn some things. If you aren't willing to do this, then you don't belong in caves.


If you are willing, there are people who will show you. They'll do it for free and even loan you the proper equipment.


It really isn't an exclusive club...it's just one where you are expected to learn how to have minimum impact and respect for that environment.


Frankly, I'm dismayed some of the attitudes displayed here. I originally thought the secrecy wasn't necessary, but now I'm thinking it probably is a reasonable tactic.

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Glad we agree on the fact that cave environments are fragile.


I'm not in favor of keeping all caves secret. In the last couple of weeks I've set up two cave virtuals. These caves have some protection from people getting in, and they are located in a suburban environment. I think it's important that know about these types of caves and their importance to the surroundings.


For many caves out in the wilderness, though, secrecy is the only kind of protection they have. I wouldn't even think of advertising the location of a cave like this.


The root of my concern is unqualified people entering caves causing damage or just getting hurt.


Even if you think you would cause no damage, you might not be aware of false floors around rimstone pools. You put your foot on what looks like something solid, and then it snaps, ruining a beautiful pool. This is one of the first things I was learned when I entered a wild cave. If experienced cavers hadn't been with me, I could have made a real mess, because I really never expected such a thing.


It's not that cavers want to keep everyone out of caves...they just want to keep out those who really don't know what they're doing, as well as those intent on doing serious damage. If you're really interested in exploring caves, cavers are quite willing to help you learn what you need to know.

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The protection that secrecy provides for a cave is the only protection that many caves have. We as cavers have taken the responsibility for this secrecy. It may seem unfair to the rest of the world, but that which is at stake is great.

As I said in my earlier post, I am sure most Cachers and cavers are environmentally like-minded. This is why we would have no problem introducing you to the delicate world of the cave environment. We simply act as a filter for those with less than the caves best interest at heart.

By posting GPS coordinates for all to see, all forms of protection have been by-passed, natural or otherwise. Anyone can use this information for whatever reason with whatever intent.

The ways that caves are preserved are as frail as the caves themselves. Help us do what we can to protect this fragile environment.


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Well I guess my first impression was right. I thought I had overstateted things and deleted the first posting.


The impression I get from what I have read here, even without having geocaching to deal with, Cavers do not want "outsiders' in their caves. Period.


The cavers are the only ones who know whats best for the caves. Period.


From reading the postings from the cave faction, I am starting to think that the best thing for the caves is to keep everone out. Period.


I did a small search on the web and found over one hundred caves in Oregon that I did not know about. But I am not a caver either so I could care less.


But I also notice that the caver faction has been silent on my question of having completed any EIS for the caves.


No answer either to the question :

When you cavers are digging looking for new cave branches, Do you guys have certified archeologist doing the digging or are you just digging and destroying history?




TTFN, logscaler.

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