White-Nose Syndrome Environmental Analysis

Adaptive Management Strategy  About White-Nose Syndrome Information for Cavers

What is the White-Nose Syndrome Adaptive Management Approach?

During 2012 and 2013, all national forests in the Rocky Mountain Region plus the Cimarron, Comanche, and Pawnee National Grasslands participated in an Environmental Assessment (EA) that compared alternative approaches to White-nose syndrome. All 10 units selected Alternative 2, the adaptive management alternative. This adaptive approach includes 3 tiers of management based on the status of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) and the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd):

  • Tier 1: Prior to the arrival of WNS in the Region: White-nose syndrome is not confirmed within 250 miles of a Forest. Basic management approach: caves are open with targeted closures for caves important to bats. 
  • Tier 2: After the arrival of WNS in the Region: White-nose syndrome confirmed within 250 miles. Basic management approach: all caves closed with targeted openings possible.
  • Tier 3: WNS is endemic or has minimal impacts on bat populations- revert to Forest Plan direction.

All units included in the Environmental Assessment are currently under Tier 1 management.

Implementing Tier 1 of the adaptive management approach includes the following measures:
  • Closure of known cave hibernacula during the winter hibernation season (approximately October 15 – April 15, exact dates to be determined by each national forest).
  • Prohibition on the use of gear that has been used in caves or mines in states and Canadian provinces where White-nose syndrome or Gd has been confirmed.
  • Requiring decontamination of gear and clothing for all cave entries.
  • Requiring online registration for cave access to help increase White-nose syndrome awareness, better understand recreational cave-use patterns, and provides cavers the opportunity to file a post-trip report about cave resources and conditions.

Each management tier includes optional management actions that may be implemented based on local conditions (for example, year-round closure of hibernacula; closures at maternity sites).

Environmental Analysis Final Documents