Cave Exploration - Cave Management

Black and white photograph of Kay Rohde
Kay Rohde

NPS Photo by Bill Holmes

Recognizing A Need

In 1982 Kay Rohde began working at Wind Cave as the park’s assistant chief of interpretation. At the time, Wind Cave National Park had no management plan for its cave resources. Rohde identified the need for cave management based upon scientific data and began assembling a team of rangers to accomplish this task.

Warren Netherton inside Wind Cave wearing caver gear (helmet, gloves, headlamp)
Warren Netherton

NPS Photo by Jim Pisarowicz

First Cave Management Ranger

In 1984 the first cave management position was filled by seasonal ranger Warren Netherton. Netherton began organizing cave maps, inventory and survey data and documenting algae removal, cave restoration that needed to be done and tracking cave use.

Jim Pisarowicz inside Wind Cave with caver gear (helmet, headlamp, gloves).  He is looking at helictite bushes.
Jim Pisarowicz

NPS Photo by Rick Day

“Why don’t you write a plan”

Caver Jim Pisarowicz also started work at Wind Cave in 1984. When Pisarowicz said to Rohde that he was surprised that the first cave to be a national park in the world did not have a management plan, Rohde said to him, “why don’t you write a plan.” He did and it became the first draft of the first cave management plan at Wind Cave National Park.

Jim Nepstad crawling through a tight passageway inside Wind Cave (wearing helmet and headlamp)
Jim Nepstad

NPS Photo by Jim Pisarowicz

“I want to be a professional cave explorer”

When Jim Nepstad first visited Wind Cave as a boy of 10 he was so excited by what he saw that he said that he wanted to become a professional cave explorer. Nepstad began working as an interpreter at the park in 1983 and over the winter of 1985 he sorted out all the survey data for the cave and created the first computerized cave map of Wind Cave.


Geographic Information System

This project eventually grew into the park’s first Geographic Information System (GIS) and Nepstad became the first fulltime cave management specialist at Wind Cave National Park.


Last updated: February 16, 2018

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Hot Springs, SD 57747


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