Management considerations for caves and related karst features in the southern Canadian rockies
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AbstractCaves are amongst the most poorly understood of the earth's natural features, and in the Canadian Rockies it is only recently that we are beginning to appreciate their true extent. Canada's longest and deepest caves have been discovered in the southern Rockies, and Arctomys Cave is the deepest cave in the Americas, outside of Mexico. The effects of sequential periods of glaciation in their formation makes Canadian Rockies caves unique, and Castleguard Cave is the only known cave in the world existing beneath an active glacier. Although significant in terms of length and depth, Rockies caves are also appreciated for the variety and beauty of their bedrock passages and the ice and mineral formations contained within. Of great interest with the recent concerns in global climate change is the information on palaeoclimates that can be gleaned from distinctive isotopic signatures preserved within cave formations. Over 130 caves are documented in the inventory for the southern Canadian Rockies, the first such inventory conducted for this area. The majority are in isolated alpine locations, require technical equipment and skills for exploration, and receive few human visitors. A s mall number of more accessible caves are located in the eastern foothills, several of which contain mineral formations and fauna that are endangered by industrial activities and heavy visitation. Current management strategies focus on denying entry through legislation and gating and have proved largely in effective. A simple classification system has been designed and applied, identifying caves requiring management intervention. An umber of different management strategies have been analyzed for their effectiveness and suitability, and recommendations for specific cave sites have been made. For any cave management strategy to work, it is essential to involve the whole spectrum of people connected with a specific cave, from land managers and cavers through to casual visitors. Interpretation and education, either remotely or on site, will be an essential ingredient in ensuring that Canadian Rockies caves are preserved for future generations to examine and enjoy.
Bibliography: p. 547-554.