Paper No. 7-11
Presentation Time: 10:55 AM
EVALUATION OF CAVE AND KARST PROGRAMS AND ISSUES AT US NATIONAL PARKS
The National Cave and Karst Research Institute conducted a survey of all National Park Service (NPS) parks to identify their cave and karst needs to improve their recognition and prioritization for action. The project began by identifying 191 NPS park units that contain or potentially contain caves, karst, or pseudokarst. Much of this effort was in cooperation with the US Geological Survey and access to its then draft National Karst Map. Those parks were asked to participate in a four-part on-line survey: general information about the park and its caves and karst, cave and karst research at the park, cave and karst management efforts and issues at the park, and cave and karst education and interpretation at the park.
About 28% of the parks responded to the survey. Most findings are park-specific. General observations include:
- more than half of the park units that responded have no staff dedicated to the management or research of cave or karst resources;
- many surveys were likely completed by personnel with little time or resources to find the correct or complete responses to the survey questions;
- a striking lack of basic knowledge or understanding of the cave and karst resources at many park units.
General recommendations include:
- increased cave and karst training and personnel as funding allows;
- development of liaison positions to facilitate communication among the research, management, and education divisions to improve knowledge of karst resources within park units;
- additional and more focused surveys to enhance and follow on the results of this study;
- continued collaboration with external investigators, contractors, and volunteers, especially during periods of limited funding;
- conduct or continue surveys of cave and karst fauna;
- delineate major flow paths and drainage basins for groundwater recharge areas that significantly extend beyond park boundaries;
- maintain and update the survey’s database for increased and continued responsiveness to future park needs.