Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM


KOVARIK, Johanna, United States Forest Service, Minerals and Geology Management Centralized National Operations, 740 Simms St, Golden, CO 80215,

The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (Forest Service) manages caves, karst systems, and associated resources on over 780,000 square kilometers of public land. The management of these resources is mandated by the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act (FCRPA) of 1988 and other federal acts, and is guided by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) as well as the Forest Service Manual (FSM). The FCRPA provides for the designation and protection of caves as significant per definition in the statute. Under this United States law, land management agencies designate caves as significant based on biology, cultural resources, geologic/ mineralogic/paleontologic resources, recreational value, or educational or scientific value, or location in a specially designated area. The FCRPA and its implementing regulations at 36 CFR Part 290 – Cave Resources Management provide the framework for management guidance in the FSM. Known caves and karst areas occur in over 100 National Forests and Grasslands, and over 2,200 significant caves have been identified to date, often with the assistance of partners such as the National Speleological Society and Cave Research Foundation.

The goal of the Forest Service National Cave and Karst Program is to protect and maintain the biological, geologica/mineralogical/paleontological, hydrological, cultural, educational, scientific and recreational values of caves and karst resources. Management actions such as timber harvest, mining, grazing, herbicide application, and development of infrastructure and recreation sites on National Forest System lands can impact cave and karst resources. Additionally, such actions in karst areas may exacerbate hazardous conditions related to karst. As per the National Environmental Policy Act of 1972, Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements may require a section on geology and specifically on cave and karst systems where these resources occur in project areas. Additionally, the Forest Service Office of International Programs provides assistance to land managers abroad in areas of cave and karst management.