Caving Colorado and White Nose Syndrome (WNS)

Jan 06,2014
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Today, I am wrapping up a week of great work and looking forward to a nice trip to some of my favorite caves.  Yes, you read correctly - Caves.

I love caving, spelunking or underground exploration. I have been doing it most of my 43 years, and it is where I feel most spiritual. 

Everyone seems to have their own special niche and Cavin' is mine. It started when I was 8 years old and my father took me to Mammoth Cave National Park. I fell in love pretty much immediately and started reasearching and exploring caves near and far. My life is really pretty simple. I am a father, a caver, and a computer professional. Caving fits perfectly into this equation, it removes me from my computer and gives me a great recreation and scientific study outside of my computer that I can enjoy with my son. I also love that it truely removes me from my computer and email while I am underground. I can then utilize my computer to help compile resources and mapping when I am back above ground. My son has also grown to enjoy this passion. It fits his personality pretty well, as to him the cave is a large jungle-gym that challenges him and gives him something to dream about. 

 

Today in Colorado we are facing the oppression of the United States Forest Service as they have tried to prepare the state for the devestating effects of White Nose Syndrome. White Nose Syndrome is a Disease caused by a fungi in bats. You can read more about WNS from the USFS site (PDF)  

or the Bat Conservation site.

Regardless Colorado has no (you read that right; ZERO) cases of WNS present, yet our state is closed to caving on USFS land.  This was a conservative and precautionary approach by the USFS to prevent the spread of WNS - a nobel but futile preventative measure. Bats migrate, other animals use caves and the scientific world still has no idea what triggered this outbreak. There is no substantial evidence that WNS could even survive in Colorado altitude or eco-climate.  That said, bat hibernatculum in Colorado are relatively small in comparison to the "hot zones" that are devestated by this outbreak on the East Coast of the US.  Please do not misinterpret my concern for WNS, I happen to really like bats; they are really cute critters that often get misrepresented by halloween and vampire movies. Bats are little mammals that do amazing things. They fly dexterously in the dark using sonar and despite the old wise tale they see very well. 

So I hope you gained something from this article, I will continue to write more about WNS and the politics and policies that the USFS has implemented to impair the cave exploration and study in the State of Colorado.  Until later, I am off caving.

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