"Leave Nothing but Footprints, Take Nothing but Pictures, Kill Nothing but Time."

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Cave Conservation

Damage done to a cave may heal in time, but it will happen slowly, over eons, rather than years. Damage done to artifacts or other historic or archaeological resources can wipe out an undiscovered chapter of history in minutes. Entire species of unique, cave-adapted life can be unintentionally eradicated by a single caver. For these reasons, cavers regard caves, and the unique biological, cultural and historical resources they contain, as non-renewable resources.

Although some cave visitors may not see the harm in taking home a cave formation as a souvenir of their "adventure," or in leaving something, a spray-painted signature or trash, behind as a record of their visit, it will significantly alter the caving experience for those who come after. Formations that have been painted, broken or, in some cases, simply handled, cease to grow. Graffiti often wipes out historic signatures, or petroglyphs drawn by Native Americans thousands of years ago, ruining them beyond repair. These things are irreplaceable and will not return in our lifetimes or in our children's children's lifetimes. For these reasons, it is important to follow a "leave no trace" ethic when visiting a cave. "Cave safely and softly!" Be aware of your surroundings and your impact on it. Do not disturb cave life or artifacts you discover. Then, take it one step further by instilling these ethics in others.


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We welcome your comments or bug reports
via email to your friendly, neighborhood speleoweb hostess,
April Hannah, NSS #35012.

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(C) Copyright 2003, April Hannah for the Upper Cumberland Grotto of the NSS. All Rights Reserved. Photos available on this web site are the property of individual members of the Upper Cumberland Grotto. Failure to request permission before saving these images to disk for your own use is a violation of the U.S. Copyright Law.