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Cave and Karst Management

Table of contents

        Management Policies
        Program Objectives
        Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988
        National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998
        Lechuguilla Cave Protection Act of 1993
        Visitor Use and Monitoring
        Resource Protection
        Cave Restoration Programs
        Research and other Scientific Activity Guidelines
        Conservation Guidelines for a Developed Cave or Cave Development
EXHIBIT 1: Management Strategies
EXHIBIT 2: Cave Entrance Inventory
EXHIBIT 3: Health and Safety
EXHIBIT 4: Recommended Caving Equipment
EXHIBIT 5: Significant Caves Criteria


The objective of this section is to provide guidelines for the management of caves, encompassing the many disciplines needed to protect and perpetuate natural cave systems. Some of the guidance is oriented toward developed caves or parks with a few major caves. Other guidance is directed at integrating the management of karst systems into park resource management planning. Parks with small, undeveloped caves should adapt this guidance to fit their own conditions.

Caves are a rich source of yet-to-be-discovered knowledge of the world around us. In order to protect caves, the karst environment in which they occur must be protected. This includes protection of soils, surface landforms, natural drainage patterns and hydrologic systems, and cave microclimate and ecosystems. Karst landforms and caves are a significant component of many National Park Service (NPS) units, some of which have been specifically established to protect karst areas and caves. Within the National Park System are some of the nation's most outstanding caves, containing unique biological and cultural resources. Some are among the longest caves in the world, and several contain some of the most unusual speleothems and mineralogy known. Many caves in parks are important as hibernacula (hibernation sites) and maternity sites for bats. While often misunderstood and overlooked in integrated land management schemes, caves and karst present managers with unique conditions and challenges and with some of the most complex and intricate hydrological and ecological systems within a park.

Cave and Karst Management Table of Contents | RM#77 Table of Contents
update on 02/05/2004  I   http://www.nature.nps.gov/Rm77/caves.cfm   I  Email: Contact Us
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