Information for Cavers

Adaptive Management Strategy  About White Nose Syndrome Environmental Analysis

How does the cave registration system work?

Registration is required to access caves that are open. The registration system is designed to prevent authorizing access to caves that are closed based on the White-Nose Syndrome Environmental Analysis decisions or other considerations.

 Closures

bats hanging upside down in caveAll known cave hibernacula are closed during the winter hibernation period. These closures currently include caves on the Bighorn, Black Hills, Shoshone, and White River National Forests. The White River National Forest also has caves that are closed year-round to minimize disturbance to bats. 

Select on of the following links and scroll to “Exhibit A” in each of the Forest Orders to see which caves are closed:

Registration Process

Note: We recommend saving the form once you have filled it out, then emailing as an attachment to r2wns@fs.fed.us 

The cave registration system involves submitting basic personal information (name, email address, zip code) and information about the cave trip (date, cave name, national forest, number of participants) online. Once the information is processed, an approved registration form will be provided to the person making the request (the “Trip Leader”). 

The Trip Leader is required to print and sign a copy of the approved registration form, and have each trip participant sign the form. Questions about the registration process can be emailed to r2wns@fs.fed.us. Reviewing the registration requests requires processing by Forest Service staff. Authorized registration forms are generally processed and returned to the applicant within 2 or 3 business days. 

Is it possible to gain access to closed caves?

For caves that are closed, the Forest Orders include exceptions for research (Exception #5) and for members of the National Speleological Society and Cave Research Foundation (Exception #6) These exceptions are similar to those in place under the previous emergency closure. Under the adaptive management approach, exceptions will be made by the appropriate Forest Supervisor but are expected to be rare. Cavers are encouraged to visit these caves when they are open for public access. 

people wearing white haz mat suits preparing to enter cave with White Nose SyndromeWhat is decontamination and why is it required?

Decontamination procedures following US Fish and Wildlife Service protocols are required by everyone to enter any and all caves. 

Decontamination refers to the process of cleaning clothing and equipment to prevent accidentally spreading the fungus that causes White Nose Syndrome. By properly decontaminating clothing and equipment, the likelihood of moving the fungus from one site to another is greatly reduced. 

A summary of the decontamination procedures is provided with approved cave access registration forms!

VIDEO: The Monongahela National Forest, in partnership with the Cave Research Foundation, has developed a video demonstrating decontamination procedures (video is about 21 minutes long): http://www.cave-research.org or closed caption version http://www.cave-research.org/