GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 96-7
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM


PATE, Dale L., National Park Service, Geologic Resources Division, P.O. Box 25287, Denver, CO 80225-0287,

In 1903, Wind Cave in South Dakota became the first National Park established for a cave. Today, the National Park Service manages over 5,300 caves within 98 park units including 4 of the 7 longest caves in the world. Significant karst landscapes are found within at least 48 park units with another 64 containing minor amounts of karst. Our knowledge base continues to grow concerning cave and karst resources. Science, education, and partnerships have shaped our cave and karst programs and led to the NPS becoming a world leader in cave management activities. From discoveries through exploration, survey, and research in numerous fields, managers now have a better understanding of these resources. With organizations such as the National Speleological Society and Cave Research Foundation, modern day cave exploration in the NPS began for the most part in the 1950’s. Carlsbad Caverns National Park hired their first cave specialist in 1973. In the 1980’s, groundbreaking karst research was led by Dr. James Quinlain in the Mammoth Cave National Park area. In 1988, the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act was enacted. And by 1996, the Geologic Resources Division provided permanent national support for cave and karst resources. This has included technical assistance, policy recommendations and guidance, education, and training. Recent endeavors include the development of a Junior Cave Scientist program, cave and karst summaries for park units, and shared karst landscape reports with the goal of identifying a priority list of needs for the long-term protection of karst resources.