Gated Caves

Cave conservation issues, techniques, questions. Also visit the NSS Cave Conservation and Management Section.

Moderator: Moderators

Gated Caves

Postby Shane S » Jan 5, 2015 8:36 am

What is everyone's opinion on gating caves?
Do gates work?
Are they needed in some places more than others?
Do you feel that some organizations and jurisdictions may have went overboard with them?
And are they un-natural looking and un slightly. Is the diminish in entrance appearance worth the protection they provide in some cases, most cases, all cases , or none?
Then there's always the hassle of getting a permit and writing down a list of combinations or collecting and returning a key.
I just thought I'd throw this one out there.
User avatar
Shane S
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 116
Joined: Mar 7, 2013 1:15 pm
Location: Cartersville GA
Name: Shane
NSS #: 64742
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Clock Tower Grotto
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby caver.adam » Jan 5, 2015 9:16 am

My impression of gates is that they prevent the casual uniformed citizen from damaging themselves or a cave. Generally, people aren't willing to work really hard just to get past a gate to vandalize something, there just isn't enough incentive to bother. Likewise, people who aren't knowledgeable enough to be safe are also probably not going to bother breaking through a gate.

One of the other upsides is that gating a cave gives you an opportunity to share that cave's specific rules. For instance, "Stay out of this one formation room so you don't step on the formations. You can take pictures from the entrance but not with people walking on them.". Or another instance, "In this cave you may only pee in this 1 location. Carry out your solid waste." Or, "Don't rig off of the trees, there is a bolt in place to prevent wear on the local ecology." And the examples go on and on.

You mentioned some downsides, but the main downside I see is that gatekeepers can develop a sense of power. Then we get into the politics of whether someone likes you enough to let you into a cave. Instead of the person deciding whether you are safe and agreeable to the conservation standards for that particular cave.
User avatar
caver.adam
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 345
Joined: Feb 8, 2012 12:26 pm
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Louisville Grotto
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby Chads93GT » Jan 6, 2015 11:19 pm

gates suck. I hate them. unless the owner wants it due to liability or vandalism........
Everyone is all "bat gate friendly" but no one thinks of larger mammals that use caves as habitat. People only care about the bats.
User avatar
Chads93GT
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2293
Joined: Jun 24, 2008 1:27 pm
Location: Missouri
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby BrianFrank » Jan 7, 2015 3:09 pm

This was on Face Book recently. Very funny post on closing caves to cavers. Here is the link, but if you have trouble with it I'm plagiarizing the text. Thanks to Clinton Elmore for posting this.
https://www.facebook.com/notes/clinton-elmore/narrative-filesnarrative-updates-for-comically-terrible-caves-trash-crack/10100415068870978?pnref=story

=============================
Narrative files/narrative updates for comically terrible caves: “Trash Crack”
January 5, 2015 at 2:49am
Trash Crack may eventually connect to BL Creek Cave (WH51), though the latter, like all state-owned caves, is closed to experienced cave explorers (to protect all the bats roosting in the bat-less and partially flooded BL Creek Cave) and was not entered by the author. The entrance to Trash Crack is a 15 foot wide and 4 foot tall rock shelter formed in the sandstone of the Hartselle Formation. This shelter abruptly leads to a 5 foot deep squeeze-down through a 5 foot long and 1.75 foot wide crack dropping down into a low wide bedding separation room. This 3 foot tall bedding separation room is slightly slanted to the southeast and contains much trash. Beyond the bedding separation room is an interconnected series of slanted fracture crawls trending to the northeast. A total of 50 feet of passage was explored, qualifying Trash Crack as a legitimate cave and therefore closing it to further exploration via experienced cavers. Hikers appear to trash this cave as they please, though the cave is currently protected (by the state) from damaging activities such as mapping, exploration, documentation, et cetera, that experienced cave explorers may wish to perform within it. Cave first documented by Shaquille O'Neal and George Clooney on January 5, 2015.

*Fictional names may have been used in this scientific report to protect the identity of the participants involved.
=============================
.
.
All TAG cavers join http://www.SCCI.org. A small price for a GREAT resource.
User avatar
BrianFrank
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 447
Joined: Apr 5, 2011 11:25 am
Location: Alpharetta, GA
Name: Brian
NSS #: 52121
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Dogwood City Grotto
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby Shane S » Jan 8, 2015 1:20 pm

Interesting enough Stephens Gap was recently purchased by the SCCi. A nice purchase it was but there is some sort of issue with the legality of easement as it is surrounded by private property. Meanwhile all responsible cave explorers have been asked to avoid this TAG classic. Responsible cavers have always avoided this during the hunting season, meanwhile the uneducated spelunker continues to do what ever they want too whenever they want too in this cave as it is likely becoming further trashed. I guess at least we are doing the right thing however it seems rather Ludacris.
And the sun still shines in TAG. :shrug:
User avatar
Shane S
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 116
Joined: Mar 7, 2013 1:15 pm
Location: Cartersville GA
Name: Shane
NSS #: 64742
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Clock Tower Grotto
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby KeyserSoze » Jan 15, 2015 8:54 am

Do gates work? Yes
Are they needed in some places more than others? Yes
Do you feel that some organizations and jurisdictions may have went overboard with them? Yes
Are they un-natural looking and un-sightly. Is the diminish in entrance appearance worth the protection they provide? some cases
Then there's always the hassle of getting a permit and writing down a list of combinations or collecting and returning a key. Yes

My view on cave access is more of a libertarian one; if the cave is on public land then the public should be given access. Cave gating should only be done on public lands when absolutely necessary. If it's on private land then that is up to the land owner. I am willing to accept a permit system for certain caves in order to protect a nonrenewable resource from damage, but the current policy of blanket cave closures is unacceptable.
This signature is really funny
User avatar
KeyserSoze
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 224
Joined: Nov 6, 2007 2:18 pm
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
NSS #: 61069
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Louisville Grotto
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby tncaver » Jan 15, 2015 9:27 am

Dang. I agree with everything you just said. It seems rare to see someone post "reasonable" statements on this or any caving forum these days. The only statement I would change is that gates almost always are unnatural looking and diminish the appearance of the entrances. I think some cave gaters are attempting to place gates farther back inside caves now when possible in an attempt to
keep entrances looking natural. Unfortunately not all cave gaters are willing to put in the extra effort required to do that and there are
some instances where doing so is not feasible. Unfortunately there are still some caves being gated that don't really need gating.

KeyserSoze wrote:Do gates work? Yes
Are they needed in some places more than others? Yes
Do you feel that some organizations and jurisdictions may have went overboard with them? Yes
Are they un-natural looking and un-sightly. Is the diminish in entrance appearance worth the protection they provide? some cases
Then there's always the hassle of getting a permit and writing down a list of combinations or collecting and returning a key. Yes

My view on cave access is more of a libertarian one; if the cave is on public land then the public should be given access. Cave gating should only be done on public lands when absolutely necessary. If it's on private land then that is up to the land owner. I am willing to accept a permit system for certain caves in order to protect a nonrenewable resource from damage, but the current policy of blanket cave closures is unacceptable.
tncaver
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2623
Joined: May 17, 2007 7:03 pm
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby Leclused » Jan 20, 2015 4:02 am

Here in Belgium a lot of caves are gated even the ones on public land. In the past ('90) there had been a lot of problems with commercial caving trips in open caves Therefore most of the easy caves are gated now. But that is not a problem at all. Each grotto gets a number of keys (depending on the number of members) to open the doors of the caves which are controlled by the federation.

Beside these "federation" caves there are also caves controlled by clubs. These caves are mostly discoveries of those clubs. Most of these caves can be visited after a request to those clubs. Sometimes you can visit the cave on our own in other cases a guide will go with you.

Concerning gates itself we always try to place the gates inside the cave or if that is not possbile we camouflage the entrance when the entrance is digged on the surface.

An example of a gate inside a cave:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sT-uZw9Wos0/U ... G_2036.JPG
Behind this first gate there is a second gate, both gates are locked.
Photo of 2nd gate : https://www.dropbox.com/s/39a76onazuuy1l0/IMG_2037.JPG

Write up with pictures about the placing of a gate (surface dig) shorlty after the breakthrough.
http://scavalon.blogspot.be/search/labe ... date=false


My conclusion : Gates (locked or not) are needed but not everywhere. I most cases the people who discover the cave will decide whether they place a gate or not.
User avatar
Leclused
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 167
Joined: Oct 4, 2007 9:02 am
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby DawgsgoCaving » Feb 7, 2015 1:27 pm

I'll keep it short. I completely disagree with it. However, if a landowner requests it, that is his or her business an we, as cavers, should respect that. I've seen enough from both ends of the spectrum to base my opinion.
DawgsgoCaving
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 165
Joined: Jan 8, 2014 6:59 pm
Name: Josh Schultz
NSS #: 65630RE
Primary Grotto Affiliation: CTG SCCi 3501
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 7, 2015 6:28 pm

DawgsgoCaving wrote:I'll keep it short. I completely disagree with it.

I don't want to coax you into entirely abandoning your brevity, but why do you completely disagree with cave gating, and how has your experience with both ends of the spectrum convinced you to join one of the "ends" instead of something in-between?
User avatar
GroundquestMSA
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1343
Joined: May 5, 2011 1:32 pm
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby DawgsgoCaving » Feb 7, 2015 7:18 pm

PM sent...More about me completely disagreeing with the current state of gating caves on government land than gating caves itself.
DawgsgoCaving
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 165
Joined: Jan 8, 2014 6:59 pm
Name: Josh Schultz
NSS #: 65630RE
Primary Grotto Affiliation: CTG SCCi 3501
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 7, 2015 10:36 pm

I recently wrote, elsewhere, that, “… ways to reduce impact include secrecy and gating. You as the original explorer may have to be personally involved in deciding whether or not these are appropriate. My own feelings on such methods are deeply conflicted. However, it must be admitted that they have, sometimes along with caring stewardship, been instrumental in the keeping of some caves in near-perfect condition. I have concluded that if the primary resource of a particular cave is its aesthetic beauty, and if that beauty can reasonably be expected to be threatened otherwise, then by all means, hide it or gate it. Surely a beautiful cave seen by a few is more valuable than a ruined one seen by many.”

While the questions asked by the original poster have already been answered accurately and simply, there are more questions about gating that need to be asked. For example, in stating that gates work, we are only affirming their efficacy as barriers. This observation is so elementary as to be useless*. Perhaps a better question is: What are gates for? Primarily, they are for conservation and control. Control is part of conservation. Conservation is not always part of control. Gates are designed to aid in different types of conservation, such as aesthetic and biological (most often meaning bat).

After deciding the purpose of the gate, we can then ask if they work with added meaning. Are they effective in enacting conservation? The answer seems to be yes (so long as they are also effective barriers of the appropriate type). Some studies have shown that a gated entrance, bat-friendly though it may be, will sometimes alter flight patterns of the colony. Gate construction has at times coincided with the abandonment of bat habitats (surely a frustration for gate builders). Whether or not this is happenstance, it seems that the net results are positive in terms of protecting significant bat populations from disturbance. Similarly, while gating to preserve aesthetic resources has not entirely prevented damage, and while the gate itself is, as mentioned, ugly, most barriers thus conceived are largely effective.

It is identically rudimentary to ask if gates are needed in some places more than others. Poking from behind the obvious answer is the bigger question: Where are they needed? So far, placement of gates has been decided in a haphazard and arbitrary manner. This is no one’s fault, nor is it necessarily bad. There are too many variables to expect that a list of specific criteria can reasonably be applied to all, or even many, caves. My suggestion above, “if the primary resource of a particular cave is its aesthetic beauty, and if that beauty can reasonably be expected to be threatened otherwise, then by all means, hide it or gate it,” still allows for a wide range of application. Even if bountiful funds and motivation for gating exist, it should still be up to someone to look at the specifics realistically. If we admit that there are negatives involved in building a gate, we should take seriously the decision to build one, and refrain from doing so if there is no real need.

The proof of the net positive effectively solves the question of aesthetic degradation of entrances. Is the diminishment in entrance’s appearance worth the protection the gate provides? I cannot imagine a case where aesthetic damage to the entrance should be the deciding factor. If you’re cutting it that close, you don’t really need a gate. If the primary value of the cave is in its beautiful entrance, then it doesn't need a gate.

Complaints about the hassle of obtaining permits and keys should be expected, but if we are convinced that the gate is serving a real purpose, none of us should be whining too loudly. After all, if getting a key is too much for us to handle, there are five or seven hundred gazillion other caves out there. Of course it is the unnecessary gating of beloved caves that will upset people the most, and this is understandable. Unfortunately, there isn’t too much we can do to stop motivated (by a misinterpretation of the meaning of conservation, by unreasonable fear, by hoggishness) individuals from gating caves, so we may have to lose some and get over it.

Many who are not in favor of gating caves will say that despite their displeasure over a gating, the decision of landowners should be respected. If they mean that they “respect” such a decision by abiding by its terms, why of course they do! What choice do they have? In many cases, I find myself incapable of respecting the wishes and decisions of a landowner because they are made in ignorance. Understanding and care for the land are not automatically packaged with the deed, and many owners do nothing to cultivate such understanding. These are the sorts that out-of-control cave-gaters no doubt love, for they can be easily convinced, and easily lied to (one caving club convinced a VA landowner to allow a gate by threatening them with “the law”). Before we can intellectually respect an owners wishes, we should know if they are well-founded. If we have contact with owners, educate them. Put them in a good position to speak worthily in behalf of their land.

The action of governmental agencies has upset many who feel that “if the cave is on public land then the public should be given access.” But the public or private title to the land has no bearing on the question of gating. If a gate is needed, it’s needed. While I feel no warmth toward governmental agencies that mindlessly obstruct access, it may be that the public nature of some areas equals a greater threat to any resources within their caves. Therefore it may be that some “publicly owned” caves need gates more than some otherwise identical but privately policed ones. This theory is based only on my observations in the eastern US. Conditions elsewhere surely differ.

It might sound as though I am in favour of gates. I am not. I acknowledge that they sometimes serve a purpose. At the same time, it is impossible to guarantee that cave resources will be forevermore protected by gates. This being true, it is our responsibility to practice behaviour that will best care for the cave, whether or not it is gated. We are a minority. Damage will be done. Care is an attitude before it is an action. Work on the attitude first, and the action will follow. And even if our actions are practically overridden by careless people, we will have done much to fulfil our responsibility.

*All the while, it is not always technically true. Even without gross vandalism, people aren’t always stopped by gates. I have been in six gated caves that I can recall. Once I had the combination. Twice I squeezed through the bars (builders may need to consider that the head is the limiting factor for some of us, and adjust their plans accordingly). Once I climbed over the gate. Once I dismantled the hinges (this was abnormal behaviour, even for me. The gate was small, old, and the cave unknown to its owner). Once I found another entrance. This last example was the only one that tormented my conscience, since it was a commercial cave. After I gave myself a fine after-hours tour, I began to think of myself as a thief. I had taken for free a specific experience that was being legally offered for money. I kidded with myself for a while that I hadn’t had the benefit of an entertaining and educational guide, but it was no good, and several months later I stopped at the park office and made a donation in the amount of admittance.
User avatar
GroundquestMSA
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1343
Joined: May 5, 2011 1:32 pm
  

Gated Caves

Postby Ernie Coffman » Feb 14, 2015 1:21 am

You have some interesting thoughts in your last message, GroundquestMSA, but I get the idea that you do what you want to do and the hell with following he landowner's directions, like keeping out of a locked gate or breaking and entering into a commercial cave; and, then feeling that you needed to pay them for your criminal situation, which made you feel better. If everyone had the same attitude, then we have a problem. I won't go further with my thoughts, but I'm shaking my head on what you wrote.
Ernie Coffman
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1145
Joined: Sep 10, 2005 12:07 am
Location: Grants Pass, Oregon
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 15, 2015 10:52 am

Ernie Coffman wrote:I get the idea that you do what you want to do and the hell with following he landowner's directions, like keeping out of a locked gate or breaking and entering into a commercial cave;

Not exactly. I am troubled about the concept of land ownership, especially when it does not include land stewardship, and that has led to my acting without consulting landowners. I do not normally ignore explicit demands from owners, because I want to avoid trouble. Of course, breaching a gate may be considered disregard for an explicit demand to keep out. Usually so. I admit to doing some poorly advised things, but we can all recognize the discrepancies between law and moral uprightness. Our operation within this margin is largely a matter of conscience.

Ernie Coffman wrote: then feeling that you needed to pay them for your criminal situation, which made you feel better.

I want to repeat that there was no "breaking" involved in that instance. I found another entrance quite far from the main gate. When I realized I was in the commercial cave I did not leave. My paying the park did make me feel better, not because what I did was criminal, but because I felt it was wrong. Despite my philosophical objections to land ownership, I recognized that much care and effort went into the operation of a legal commercial venture. I was worried about the stealing, not trespassing. The difference is important to me.

Probably I should have kept quiet about that part. My only purpose was to show that gates cannot serve any of their purposes if they don't keep people out.
User avatar
GroundquestMSA
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1343
Joined: May 5, 2011 1:32 pm
  

Re: Gated Caves

Postby tncaver » Feb 15, 2015 11:32 am

How do you feel about vehicle ownership, dog ownership, home ownership? Is land ownership really that difficult of a concept? Consider this....
land ownership is never permanent because individuals are not permanent. Some people may own too much land but that's probably because
they have too much money or they inherited it from a family that was wealthy or got a huge land grant a couple centuries ago. However, a good steward might be a blessing whereas someone who accumulates garbage on their property, not so great. I know I wish I owned a nice big chunk
of cave land in the plateau, but I'm grateful that I know some landowners who do own big chunks of cave land in the plateau. I am glad the government doesn't own it all or we would have no where to go caving any more. Unfortunately it seems public land is not all that public any more. You can only
do what gubment says and only where they say and only when they say and often only if you jump through hoops for a permit or pay money for
license to do things on the land your tax dollars paid for. Ironic isn't it.
tncaver
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2623
Joined: May 17, 2007 7:03 pm
  

Next

Return to Conservation Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users