GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 113-3
Presentation Time: 2:05 PM


LEDECZI, Anna, Marine Geology and Geophysics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 and SEIXAS, Miranda, White River National Forest, Minturn, CO 81645

White River National Forest (WRNF) has the most caves of any Forest in Forest Service Region 2, which includes South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado. These caves formed in a karst environment where water-dissolved limestone creates caves and related features such as springs and sinkholes. As GeoCorps interns for the WRNF, we focused on the karst features throughout the Forest, but were primarily stationed at Fulford Cave near Eagle, CO, and Spring Cave near Meeker, CO. Since these two caves are open and advertised to the public, our main responsibility was overseeing the permitting process and interacting with visitors. We provided on-site education and resources for white-nose syndrome (WNS) equipment decontamination, as well as cave maps and general caving advice. At Spring Cave, we filmed an interpretive video that WRNF will use for future caving and WNS education. We engaged in the larger karst environment during field days by aiding our fellow GeoCorps intern, Alex Lyles, in verifying sinkholes, grikes, and other karst features previously identified through LiDAR. These ground-truthing days served to build up WRNF’s understanding of the karst topography and hydrology of the region, with implications for all sectors of the forest, from resource management to fire safety. Additionally, we attended monthly meetings of the local speleological society in order to strengthen the relationship between the Forest Service and the Grotto. Grotto members often hold most of the knowledge of the caves in a region, and particularly since the WRNF does not have a geologist, these connections were critical in informing WRNF’s development of a karst management plan. While attending caving trips with Grotto members, we learned about their own management and protection practices and how these align with the Forest principles. Our summer has been a concrete initial step in bolstering the WRNF’s understanding of their karst and cave resources and geology.