Cave and Karst Management
Roles and Responsibilities
The Director of the National Park Service establishes and approves servicewide cave and karst management policies and standards. The Director is ultimately responsible for establishing cave and karst management programs that conserve these resources unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations and for ensuring that such programs are in compliance with directives, policies, and laws.
The Associate Director, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science (ADNRSS), has functional authority, through the Natural Resources Program Center, for developing policies and standards for the Director’s approval; providing policy oversight of NPS cave and karst programs, including evaluating the results of field performance in complying with directives, policies, and laws; providing direct assistance to parks in specific cave and karst program areas; and administering cave and karst programs for which the ADNRSS has direct authority.
As a component of the Natural Resources Program Center, the Geologic Resources Division exercises the Associate Director’s responsibility by administering and carrying out functional oversight of the NPS cave and karst management program; assisting parks in carrying out cave management activities and in interpreting cave and karst laws, policies, regulations; and formulating servicewide cave and karst regulations, policies, guidelines, and standards to help parks conduct effective cave and karst management activities.
The regional director, through or with the assistance of an assistant or associate regional director, is responsible for ensuring that cave and karst management activities within the region are uniformly implemented in compliance with directives, policies, and law; identifying regional coordinators and contacts for specific program areas, where required, who can provide information and data about park cave and karst systems and cave and karst management programs to the Natural Resources Program Center; and circulating cave and karst information and advice from the Natural Resources Program Center, other government agencies, and universities to superintendents for use in park cave and karst resource inventorying and management.
Support office natural resource staff and/or cluster or regional natural resource program coordinators have responsibility for assisting parks in needs identification; data collection and analysis; planning, program, and project development; and providing advice on cave and karst management issues.
The superintendent is responsible for understanding the park’s cave and karst resources and their condition; establishing and managing natural resource management programs that address park cave and karst management (where appropriate) and ensuring that all park programs comply with related directives, policies, and laws; ensuring that cave and karst resources are considered in park development and project plans; and incorporating cave and karst conservation techniques in park management and activities.
The park natural resource manager (or, if available, the park cave specialist), on behalf of the superintendent carries out needs assessments and planning; inventories and classifies, protects, interprets, and observes and monitors cave and karst resources in compliance with directives, policies, and laws; coordinates assistance in specific cave research; maintains trails and all other NPS facilities above and in the cave in parks with developed caves; advises and consults with other staff specialists on cave-related resource management concerns (such as research, maintenance, inventory, protection, and other activities); oversees cave exploration and the cave volunteer program; and works closely with the chief ranger to ensure adequate cave search and rescue preparedness.Cave and Karst Management Table of Contents | RM#77 Table of Contents