“The point is not to have lists for cavers or recreationalists, the point is to have lists to improve the professional approach to protect and preserve cave resources. We, as grotto members, government employees, or concerned citizens, should be interested in educating the public to doing the right actions to preserve these resources – even when it means publicly relieving cave locations.
What are the main detrimental effects threatening Utah caves? Is it high visitation? Or is it lack of proper management? Is it the lack of knowledge of random visitors? Or it is the lack of education we provide to those visitors? There are times where secrecy is the best form of preservation, but as decades pass it will only be the well managed caves that will be saved.
The best solution is to achieve appreciation through education. We need to expand the numbers of those willing to protect caves without expanding the risks to the caves. Is this an impossible idea? The key is expanding our own view of caves. Most all of us start with the recreational view of caves. We rape the resource for a bit of enjoyment. We need to turn our views to achieving enjoyment by restoring the resource. We need to see ourselves moving away from being a part of the problem and becoming part of the solution. We need to be more active in the management of caves. Collectively, we need – dare I use the overused phrase – graduate from being “Spelunkers” and become responsible “Cavers.”
What does this mean about cave lists? The information about caves needs to be preserved to prevent injustice to cave resources. Hiding caves only delays problems. We need to be professional and demand the governing agencies to be professional about managing their resources. We do not need to openly share cave lists. But we, even if separately, should have lists prepared for when sudden action is needed. For example, in Southern Kentucky a new highway is being proposed. In a state where the creation of lists has been always fought, lists are being created in hopes that they can divert the path of the highways and save cave resources. Someday we may be called upon to do the same. We need to learn to stand up to our shadows and do what needs to be done – work together and be sure that the caves our properly managed.” Jon Jasper