Cavers Clean & Inventory Bowden Cave

Attendees from the Cave and Karst Management Workshop held in Elkins, West Virginia this past June, paid a visit to closed Bowden Cave.

Bowden Cave, along with all other caves in the Monongahela National Forest in north-central West Virginia have been closed since April 15th, 2011 to try and protect bats from the spread of White-nose Syndrome. A special permit was issued to the group so they could clean up trash, remove graffiti, and conduct a resource inventory.

As a precaution, all who entered the cave wore tyvek suits, rubber boots, exam gloves (under their leather gloves), and helmets. Following the visit, everything was decontaminated following and exceeding the decontamination protocols outlined by the USFWS to ensure no fungus spores would be spread.

Upon entering the cave, it was immediately clear that at least some people were ignoring the closures, with trash on the floor, graffiti on the walls and broken flowstone formations. At least one bat was also found to be a victim of these vandal attacks.

“The vandals who entered Bowden Cave had obviously ignored closure requirements. Furthermore, responsible cavers who did adhere to closure requirements had been excluded from visiting the cave for conservation purposes, recreational purposes, and educational purposes. Only those who ignored or were ignorant of closure requirements had visited Bowden Cave.”

This is an excellent example of how these blanket closures of caves don’t work. They only serve to banish those who are responsible and equipped to protect caves.

Bowden Cave Conservation and Inventory Efforts June 23, 2011 [Youtube User CaveSafetyTechniques]

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