Missouri Speleological Survey, “MSS” MoSpeleo, volume 05, number 01, 1963

Missouri Speleological Survey, “MSS” MoSpeleo, volume 05, number 01, 1963

POLICY ON CAVE LOCATIONS

The Board of Directors of the Missouri Speleological Survey voted early this year to discontinue the practice of making cave locations available to the general public. In accordance with the Boards ruling, effective this issue, no cave locations will appear in this publication. Caves will be listed by name and county code numbers. Specific directions for reaching caves have been deleted from reports in the interests of cave conservation.

The Board made this important step after careful consideration of the effects it might have and after considering several alternatives. We feel that the new policy is in the best interests of cave preservation and cave use. Over the past 7 years cooperators of the survey have seen many once beautiful caves ruined forever by commercial and amateur mineral collectors who got their information from one or another published source containing cave locations. The Bretz report, which stimulated cave study in Missouri, has doomed many of our caves. Some, like a well-known gypsum cave near St. Louis, have already been badly vandalized. Others will suffer the same fate. We have seen priceless bone deposits trampled into the mud, or carried away piecemeal by souvenir hunters. Perhaps even more damaging is the disturbance of the biological communities in caves. Collectors for commercial laboratory supply companies rob our caves of rare animal species. Bats are killed by the thousands by sadistic thrill-seekers, or they die after being disturbed during hibernation. Carbide dumped into streams and all manner of refuse dumped in caves by untrained or careless persons seriously threatens the slim thread of life in our caves. All this and more has already happened; it may be possible, by restricting cave location information, to prevent or slow down such activities in the future.

But the Board does not seek to deny caves to those who would study and use them to good advantage. We fully recognize that our own activities in mapping, photographing, studying and enjoying caves cause unintentional, but nonetheless irreparable damage. The unintentional damage can be kept to a minimum if the persons who visit caves are guided by established rules of proper cave use and conservation. Locational information is always available to those who have legitimate reason to visit our caves. Such information may be obtained from the custodians of M. S. S. cave files in Jefferson City and St. Louis. In most cases the custodian of the files may release the information, but if the custodian does not know the applicant or questions his intent, he can refuse a request and refer the applicant to the Chairman of the M. S. S. Those with honorable intentions should have no difficulty in obtaining needed information.

Jerry D. Vineyard, Chairman

Missouri Speleological Survey

 

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