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Cave Vandalism 

It's time to step up protection of these gems

This memo recently appeared on thewebsite of the Oregon High Desert Grotto chapter of the National Speleological Society (NSS) — a not for profit organization whose members study, explore and conserve cave and karst resources; protect access to caves; encourage responsible management of caves and their unique environments; and promote responsible caving.

There has been an increase in vandalism in the China Hat caving area lately and I would like to ask grotto members to keep an eye out when caving there.

Some of the observations during the past couple days include:

 

Boyd Cave: Signs at top and bottom of stairs destroyed. The information signs only lasted 1 ½ years, but we plan to put new ones up. (The interpretive signs were a big hit with visitors to the cave; people took the time to read them and were better informed before entering the cave.) We want to place interpretive signs at Arnold Ice Cave as well. The good news is, there was a citation today at Boyd Cave for some slob leaving beer bottles in the cave.

Bessie Butte Cave: There were a large number of shotgun shells and brass casings from rifle and pistol fire at the entrance to Bessie Butte Cave, and many casings inside the pit. We hauled out a large bag full yesterday.

Skeleton Cave road gate: Someone has been gluing the locks on the gate to the cave. This has happened several times, causing the USFS to purchase a number of new locks. When law enforcement officer Eddy Cartaya patrolled the area today, he discovered a lock dripping with super glue, not even dry. He just missed the vandal. It is possible someone is entering the area on a mountain bike. Eddy found the empty tube of glue and sent it in for fingerprint ID.

 I'm sure there are other things happening as well.  If you run into something while in the area, it's best to get the license plate if you can and a description of the people you encounter.  Photograph their license and car if possible. Call Officer (and grotto member) Eddy Cartaya as soon as you can at 541-480-8076.

 Thanks for your help!  We as a grotto can and do make a difference."

 Brent McGregor OHDG Chairman.

"This has gotta' stop!" McGregor said, smacking his fist on the table where several people were gathered to view images McGregor had taken of the recent clean-up campaign carried out by several grotto members.

"Boyd Cave is the signature lava cave of the China Hat Road caving area that visitors to the Deschutes National Forest enjoy exploring," Forest Service law enforcement officer Eddy Cartaya said at the gathering. "Boyd's becoming a pot-smoking garbage pit and shooting gallery for the vandals that have to destroy things."

It isn't just Boyd Cave that's taking a beating from vandals. Pot-smokers and shooters are leaving their messes behind, and locked caves are taking a beating; locks are destroyed, vandalized by the crazies, and when they gain access they proceed to do their stupid destroying antics.

An example was the goofball who recently drilled holes into the walls of the Skeleton Cave entrance sink and installed a slackline webbing from wall-to-wall to do some kind of circus act in the cave. That didn't go over too well with Cartaya, who removed everything the crazies bolted into the cave walls, and added it to the collection of illegal paraphernalia he's collected from caves over the years.

Probably the dumbest stunt the pot-smokers pulled took place in the deeps of a cave, near Bessie Butte, south of Bend. On his regular patrol, Cartaya noticed vehicles parked all over the place at the entrance of the cave, and stopped to see what was going on.

When he walked up to the opening of the cave he heard people talking down in the cave and saw a rope tied off to a tree that the people in the pit had used to get in, and the smell of pot rising from the hole.

"Yeah," he heard someone say, "the dumb cops won't bother us now; they'd never think of coming out here." And another voice chimed in, followed by a lot of laughter. Cartaya pulled back from the hole and called in for backup to get the smokers/vandals from the cave without getting hurt.

After standing by the entrance to the cave listening to the pot-smoker diatribe for over an hour, and watching the support vehicles coming to help, Cartaya heard one of the guys say, "Well, let's get goin,' " and he saw the rope begin to sway as the person below began the ascent.

Just as the guy reached the surface, Cartaya grabbed him by the shoulders and lifted him out of the hole and off the rope, handcuffed him and handed him to one of the officers who arrived to help.

Cartaya then went to the hole and shouted down, mocking, "Off rope!" signaling others they could climb out. Each one was greeted with the sudden knowledge that their "secret" pot-smoking outing was afoot as they were snatched form the rope, handcuffed and left sitting on the cold hard ground with their pals.

After all the pot-smokers were in custody, Cartaya rappelled down into the cave to access the damages, and not only found the roaches and pot-smoking paraphernalia, but bottles, cans and shells from the firearms the vandals (allegedly) were using in the cave.

In addition to repairing the information kiosk the vandals destroyed at the entrance to Boyd Cave, Deschutes Forest Service leaders are planning to ask the Grotto to help curb the vandalism in the caves by establishing an all-volunteer group to help visitors enjoy their caving experience without the vandalism that is destroying this unique recreation resource.

A proposal is under discussion wherein FS volunteers and members of the Grotto could help in:

• Placing an FS host in the Boyd Cave area

• Volunteer cave patrols

• Informational kiosk and signs near Bend and the forest boundary on China Hat Road.

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