Caves provide unique advantages and disadvantages for the creatures that live in them, depending on which zone of the cave they make home.
Due to the sensitive nature of the cave ecosystem, it’s vital that outside contaminants be kept to a minimum. When efforts to keep trash out fail, it falls to us to take out the trash.
Careless spelunkers sometimes leave behind batteries (which can leak battery acid), snack wrappers, and glass bottles. Even natural events such as big thunderstorms or spring thaw runoff can wash plastic bags, old water bottles, straws, ect. into the cave.
We have to be mindful when in caves, no matter if it's recreational caving, surveying, or doing a cleanup; sometimes the easiest way isn’t what is best for the cave. Paint thinner is very effective at removing spray paint; however it is not a good choice for use in a fragile ecosystem!
Sinkholes were often used as a garbage dump. Ready-made hole in the ground where you don’t have to worry about hauling it off your property? Why not fill it with trash? The problem with this mindset is that water drains through the sinkholes and into the aquifer. WUSS has pulled mattress box springs, rope, pop cans, refrigerators, washers, broken dolls, tvs, radios, toilets, tables, car batteries, a VW Beetle, tires, and more out of sinkholes.[Beetle Photo Here Please!!]
Sometimes a sinkhole is the entrance to a cave as well, and if you get all the garbage out of the way you may be rewarded with a ‘new’ cave to explore.
If you want more information about our next cleanup effort, contact the officers.