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For all Cavers....CO temporarily closes caves/mines

Original Post
Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425

I know whitenose has been a big issue, but this is the first blanket closure I've seen.…

Jason Kaplan · · Glenwood ,Co · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 3,370

Now who would want to do a silly thing like that???
Colorado caving sucks, and heres proof:

Hanging Lake, fixin' to die cave.

You wish!

Oh yea!


Pretty nice....
Thank goodness our last 2 trips were really good. It's been fun while it lasted. Time to focus on climbing more again.

Rik Anderson · · C/S, Colorado/Talkeetna, Alask · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 195

Luckily not all are closed. Private caves are still open so there is still plenty of caving to do. We have a great society of cavers and are working on lifting the ban on some of the caves that do not shelter bats. Yes the flat tops and other major areas are closed, but hopefully soon some will be open again. But this means we just have to find virgin cave that we dig into.=P Til then, I guess I'm playing above ground. And to any cavers on the site please respect the ban. The caves will be open soon enough.

dan zika · · jax wy · Joined May 2009 · Points: 5

thecaves will be open soon and how do u know the goverment will act faster than a tortise wns has not been seen west of the misissippi
as far as I know. Maybe the gov just wants us out of caves

Tim Pegg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 5
dan zika wrote:...wns has not been seen west of the misissippi as far as I know.
Didn't even read the article: "...its presence has been recently confirmed in Missouri and western Oklahoma."

Oklahoma is west of the Mississippi.

Don't worry, the government (particularly the National Forest Service) probably isn't out to get you yet. It really is too bad, but a quick Googling of "white nose syndrome" shows that the disease is killing bats quickly, and its spread is poorly understood; keeping people out of caves for the time being might prevent the fungus from contaminating new caves.
Jason Kaplan · · Glenwood ,Co · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 3,370

2 things... Digging is illegal with out a stack of paperwork permissing it. WNS hasn't been proven to be spread by people in the field, only in the lab. The bats spread it between each other, This blanket closure is BS. Oh well though lets just let them keep stealing our freedoms here in the land of necessary illusions.

Rik Anderson · · C/S, Colorado/Talkeetna, Alask · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 195

Digging isn't illegal, if it was all the caves we have in Colorado wouldn't be what they are now: Groaning, Fixing, Fulford, La Sunder, Ron Tom's etc...We have never needed to get permits for all the work that we have done, and everything we have done is legal. As for the government trying to keep us out of the caves, it is the cavers who mainly keep control of the caves on BLM, and NF land, yes they may have the final say but they listen to our imput and basically we are the ones who are the controllers. Who holds the keys(combo) to Groaning and La Sunder? We do! The Colorado Cave Survey does a very good job keeping good relations with the government. The blanket survey isn't BS, they just want to take the time and make sure that they open the ones that do not have a bat population, and where there isn't any possible of interference with the bats by humans to possibly cause more harm. If you want to help or learn more check out your local grotto and get involved.

Jason Kaplan · · Glenwood ,Co · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 3,370…

Post 2 and post 6 come from Dan Sullivan from down in your neck of the woods...

The information I was baseing that claim off was from one of you organized grotto guys. So he must just be full of it hu???

You guys are so freaking secretive the forest service probly doesn't have a clue untill they have to, like was the case in RONTOM! I bet even when they are in the know about a caves existence they aren't exactly aware of what has taken place or who's responsible.

OH and my basis of the blanket closure being BS comes from The Administrative Vice President of the NSS:

By RayKeeler - Sunday, July 11, 2010
Closing Colorado Caves on Forest Service managed lands would be a very poor decision. Enforcement, other than for a few gated caves, is not cost effective, the correct management decision, or enforceable.
The overwhelming evidence is that White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is spread from bat to bat. Though shown only in the lab that the spores can be transferred on clothing, there is NO documented instance of cavers transferring the spores in the field.
Data point 1: 2007 - National Speleological Convention in the Summer in Indiana. Scores of cavers attended from the Northeast, who had participated in WNS infected caves the previous winter and spring. There is still no WNS in Indiana.
Data Point 2. Hell Hole West Virginia has been closed to human visitation for 3 years. February 2010 bat counts showed substantial infection rates.
Data Point 3. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has published decontamination procedures that are being implemented though out the U.S.
Data Point 4. Bat Conservation International published bat migration flight routes in 2008, before WNS had progressed to the current point. ALL of the expansion locations are along these routes.
Data Point 5: Attempts to stop fire ants spreading from the non-freezing southeast failed. Substantial efforts to stop Africanized bees from spreading from South America to Central America to the U.S. failed.
The recommended management is:
1. Seasonal closures for caves with hibernating bats
2. Education for using decontamination procedures after entering caves.
This cooperative effort can help with the better understanding of something that humans cannot control anyway.
A metaphor would be: A kindergarten class has one child who has the flu. The class plays together, and takes an afternoon nap while the child coughs. The janitor is blamed for spreading the flu because he entered the room.
This possible Forest Service decision is blaming the janitor for spread of the flu.

OH and BTW, It could end caving on private land too. See the notification to private cave owners.... opening their caves to visitation could put them in violation of section 9 of the Endangered Species Act.

I'm also curious about something else...

Who's to say they will ever re-open, is there paperwork associated with this closure, is there an expiriation/re-newal period (like happened with RONTOM) or is it just untill they change their minds?
Rik Anderson · · C/S, Colorado/Talkeetna, Alask · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 195

I agree with you that the main cause of the wns spreading through the caves is bat to bat, I never stated otherwise. All I said is that they are keeping all the caves closed until they can determine which caves don't have a bat population, then they will be opening up those. The bats don't need more stress caused by humans disturbing them, they have enough of that already. The main group that the government listens to are cavers since we are the ones in there and do notice what's going on. Also my reference to digging was from the outside in, not in a cave,finding new cave, because if you break into a cave that had no prior entrance, no bats.
I can't comment on what Dan said here, so we'll have to talk about that one sometime around the campfire at fixin.
Us being secrective about caves, yes we are. Why? I'm guessing you have been in Fulford. That should give you the answer right there. If we tell one, they tell two and then they all end up looking like that. Look at what climbing has become. draws hanging everywhere, tick mark on things you don't need to tick, trash at crags, etc.. Yes we all love our environment but we seem to love it to death sometimes. Caves are probably one of the most fragile environments out there, and I know you know this since you are a caver yourself.
Not trying to pick a fight man, I think you may have misunderstood what I wrote or I wrote it poorly so it was easy to misunderstand, after all, english is not my best study, you can have the last word if you want. Peace, Rik

Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 266

Anyone have any idea on how this affects commercial caves? Some of those large ones have interconnecting chamber systems, even if the entrance where people go does not have bats there are bound to be bats somewhere in the cave.


Those are awesome photos! Any background on how the fried egg speleothem formed?

Rik Anderson · · C/S, Colorado/Talkeetna, Alask · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 195

This blanket closure is not closing down the commercial caves, since those are privately owned. Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs, Glennwood Caverns in Glenwood Springs will remain open. Even other caves run by the National Park Service are still operating tours, like Mammoth Cave (longest cave in the world =)) in Kentucky, Wind and Jewel Caves in South Dakota.

Dirty Gri Gri, or is it GiGi? · · Vegas · Joined May 2005 · Points: 4,115

Jason's pics are making me hungry- I'm gonna get me some of that sunny side down, sunny side up, scrambled, and over easy with my cave bacon....Right here in Nevada, of course. : )

Jason Kaplan · · Glenwood ,Co · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 3,370

I'm glad you guys like the pics, I have no idea how the fried egg formed. I'm not much of a caver, rookie at best ;). I kept trying to tell my friends I'm going to try not to go so much this summer cause I'm a climber... Caving was supposed to be for rainy days, wonder why I went probly over 20 days last summer? Good thing for the closure...

Rik A. sorry if it seemed I was trying to fight with you, just trying to point some things out and back up my statments.

Here is some more virtual caving for you all to enjoy:

Yea freezing creek crawling!

Lava flow stone!


Hell yea!

Awesome ripples in the water.

I got yer' bacon right here!

Oh yea!

Tim Pegg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 5
Jason Kaplan wrote:Though shown only in the lab that the spores can be transferred on clothing, there is NO documented instance of cavers transferring the spores in the field.
"In the lab" is proof enough for me to agree with a temporary closure--I'd be curious to know how many cavers' clothes they've swabbed on the way into and out of WNS contaminated caves. If I were to autoclave my clothes, take a shower, then take a romp through a contaminated cave, what are the chances I'd come out with WNS spores on my clothes or body? If I were to step into a cleanroom afterward and hang around for 30 minutes or so, could I find the spores in an air filter or on a countertop? If so, I'd call it mostly convincing; it would demonstrate that people can carry the spores into a new environment, even if infectiousness would need more study.

I understand that bat-bat transmission may be the dominant mode of infection, but I bet humans travel much more quickly than bats. A caver carrying the spores from Oklahoma tonight would have no trouble introducing the disease to Glenwood Canyon tomorrow morning.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not exactly cheering for this closure with pom-poms in hand. But, given that WNS can kill 90% of the bats in a colony, starting with a single infection, I'd say that slowing one disease vector is a pretty good idea until the problem is better-understood.
Bill Duncan · · Jamestown, CO · Joined Mar 2005 · Points: 2,915

Since it looks like we won't be caving for awhile, I can't help dropping a couple of pics to contribute to the virtual experience . . . not the best pics, but they'll work.

Inverted Mushrooms

The Conning Tower Bypass.

A back hall.

Jason Kaplan · · Glenwood ,Co · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 3,370

Groaning I take it?

What other caves have you been in bill?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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