An exciting world of wonder, waiting for exploration is hidden beneath the surface of many Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands. Eleven BLM States contain caves and karst lands, the BLM manages over 1,500 caves in these States.
The BLM is a multiple-use land management agency providing approximately 258 million acres of lands for use by the American public. Caves environments and their resources are fragile and easily disturbed. As such, there are many activities that could have adverse impacts on cave and karst environments – even recreational and scientific use of caves can cause undesirables impacts. The BLM uses various management techniques to help balance land use activities and the protection of the nation’s fragile cave and karst resources. Conservation also is a key component of the caves and karst management.
Special Management Issues
Because the BLM is a multiple-use land management agency there may be conflicts between the desired management of cave and karst resources and other uses. The BLM uses various management practices to avoid potential conflicts for such economic activities as oil and gas well development, timber harvesting, and grazing. The primary approach is three-fold:
- Detection – The detection phase may use several different techniques; field examinations, known data files, satellite images, and geophysical techniques such as natural potential, induced resistivity, and ground penetrating radar;
- Avoidance – The avoidance phase may be as easy as moving a project or activity to eliminate conflicts (e.g., roads, power lines, and facilities may be moved to avoid construction problems and protect cave and karst resources); and
- Mitigation – Mitigation measures may be applied to lessen any impacts that can not be avoided (i.e. Berms may be constructed along roads to avoid spills or runoff from entering caves and ground water recharge points).