Lehman Caves is no exception. Over the last century, Lehman Caves has seen extensive use by humans. By 2007, over one million people have had the opportunity to walk through this cave system, and their impact is starting to become evident. From the early explorers, who broke open once blocked passageways, to the early souvenir hunters who removed cave formations for keepsakes, to the early Park Rangers who installed staircases, wooden seats, and metal cables, to the everyday visitor who leaves thousands of skin cells, lint, and hair behind- we have all left our mark.
Great Basin National Park is currently working to restore as much of Lehman Caves to its natural state as possible. Trying to reverse the years of damage and wear on the cave system has proven to be a monumental task. This includes active restoration, by removing old, rotten staircases, removing corroded metal conduits, and the removal of construction debris. Other methods are more preventative, like the installation of a LED lighting system in Lehman Caves, designed to minimize heat output and algae growth within the cave.
To reduce the everyday wear and tear on the cave, crews must actively clean the cave system. This includes the removal of algae, and tedious process of lint removal, where crews painstakingly remove accumulated lint from the cave formations with nothing more than tweezers and paint brushes.
We can all do our part to reduce our impact to all cave systems. Always make sure you stay on the paved trail, and be extra careful not to touch the cave walls or cave formations, even with your clothing. And always remember the caving motto:
"Take nothing but pictures,
Leave nothing but carefully placed footprints
Kill nothing but time"
For more information on cave restoration and 'soft caving' please Speleological visit the National Speological Society.
Last updated: February 28, 2015