Privately Owned Lands
Approximately 70% of the documented caves in Missouri are on private lands. Nurturing positive landowner relations is essential to maintaining access to privately owned caves, which means respecting the wishes of private landowners and being responsible guests while visting their properties.
It is the responsibility of the caver to know who owns any given cave or any piece of property which must be crossed to get to a cave and to make certain proper permission has been given before doing so.
The MSS has significant data on the roughly 4,900 known privately owned caves in Missouri. In no known cases has the data ever been used against landowners, but in fact has at times lead to the preservation of landowners' rights by protecting their land from eminent domain when significant caves lie in the path of a highway project or some other development. In more than one case the known presence of a cave caused project courses to be re-routed.
At times private landowners may be worried about the liability of allowing cavers onto their land or in their cave. In Missouri landowners are protected under the recreational use statute, which exempts landowners from being responsible for injuries which occur on their land provided they did not accept payment for access. At times it may be prudent to sign a liability waiver to alleviate the concerns over possible litigation in the event of an accident. Click here for a generic liability waiver.
Another protection that Missouri landowners have, specifically regarding caves, is the Cave Resources Act, which makes vandalism in caves, destruction of cave gates, etc. a class A misdemeanor.
If you're a landowner and want to know what information we have on your cave(s) or if you're a landowner and would like for an experienced caver to come check out your cave or cave lead, contact us.