Deschutes National Forest finalizes cave protection order

The Deschutes National Forest on Wednesday finalized a new Cave Management Forest Order that prohibits specific activities in and around caves where the activities are causing adverse impacts to cave resources.

Most of these prohibitions were taken from previous forest orders.

On the Deschutes National Forest, there are about 700 known caves.

Unfortunately, impacts to fragile cave ecology have occurred on the Deschutes National Forest.

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Adverse impacts have included vandalism, lighting fires, excavating and removing geologic and archaeologic resources, leaving trash and other items, leaving human and domestic animal body waste, and disturbing bats and other wildlife.

The new Forest Order does the following:

  • Protects all caves and cave sinks.
  • Prohibits building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire; depositing any foreign material; broadcasting glitter, dust (beyond what is naturally produced by walking and crawling), smoke, or other substances into the air; slacklining; and depositing anybody waste (including domestic animal body waste) within all caves.
  • Prohibits entering or being in Lava River Cave (west tube, show cave) from September 15 through April 30 (winter closure), or until the beginning of the open season, whichever is latest; entering or being in Lava River Cave (west tube, show cave) from May 1 to September 14, or after the end of the open season, whichever is earliest, between the hours of 5:00pm and 9:00am; entering or being in the last 300 feet of the west tube (west tube, show cave); entering or being in the gated east tube of the cave year-round; and climbing or bouldering within the cave.
  • Prohibits entering or being within Skeleton Cave year-round and climbing or bouldering inside or outside the gate at the cave entrance from September 15 through April 30.
  • Closes year-round Bat, Charcoal #1, Charlie the Cave (both upper and lower chambers), Deg, Eternity, Infinity, Lavacicle, and Wind caves.
  • Seasonally closes Arnold Ice, Lee’s, Lower Quartz Mountain, and Skylight caves from (September 15 through April 30).
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