Resource Ramblings 2005-02


Biological Resources

A rose is a rose is a rose…

Unlike florists, Wind Cave National Park does not have a supply of blooming roses available for viewing during February. But, that doesn’t mean the plants are not out there. There are three species of roses, all shrubs, on the park’s plant list:

prickly wild rose Rosa acicularis Lindl.
prairie wild rose Rosa arkansana Porter
Woods’ rose Rosa woodsii Lindl.

Wild roses provide good browse for deer and elk. Numerous small mammals, including porcupines and rabbits, utilize rose hips for food.

There are many species occurring at the park that are members of the Rose Family, including: chokecherry, American plum, sand cherry, raspberry, serviceberry, northern hawthorn, wild strawberry, mountain mahogany, prairie smoke, and several species of cinquefoil.

Physical Science Management

On January 8, 2005, the Wind Cave survey (114.19 miles) passed Lechuguilla Cave (114.08 miles) to become the third longest surveyed cave in the US and the fifth longest cave in the World. Although there was a survey trip into Lechuguilla on the 9th, that trip only brought the Lechuguilla survey up to 114.17 miles, 105 feet short of passing Wind Cave. This event has brought a fair amount of national attention to Wind Cave, both in the news media and in caving circles. Currently, there is very little survey being done in any of the large foreign caves (Optimisticeskaja in Ukraine or Holloch in Switzerland). If the current trend continues, within a few years, the four or five longest caves in the world will all be found in the US.

Many wonder why we continue cave exploration and mapping. Since the beginning of man, people have gone into areas they have known little about. The desire to explore has been prompted by many different reasons, including necessity, curiosity, and even the desire for riches. National Park Service policy states that we will “define, assemble, and synthesize comprehensive baseline inventory data describing the natural resources under its stewardship, and identify the processes that influence those resources.” (Management Policies 2001 4.2.1) Ron Kerbo, NPS Cave Specialist, provided the following additional reasons for cave exploration and mapping:

  • Provide for the protection of natural processes in cave ecosystems, within karst or non-karst landscapes.
  • Promote scientific studies and researches in or about cave and karst resources and systems to increase a park's scientific knowledge and broaden the understanding of its cave resources.
  • Produce detailed cartographic survey of caves and cave systems, upon which to append detailed inventories of the natural and cultural resources within cave systems.
  • Provide a basis for educational opportunities for a broad spectrum of park visitors to safely visit, study, and enjoy caves at a variety of levels of interest and abilities.
  • To have an understanding of our resources so that we can establish regulations, guidelines, and/or permit stipulations that will ensure maximum conservation of cave resources.
  • Provide direction for cave restoration activities that remove unnatural materials or restore otherwise impacted areas.
  • Establish standard operating procedures in the maintenance and upkeep of developed cave passages and monitoring of natural environmental conditions and visitor use impacts.
  • To ensure the sustainable use of cave resources.
Cave Entrance
Cave Entrance

NPS Photo

Cave exploration and survey are two of the most important components of a solid baseline for cave management decisions. Without continued exploration and mapping, accomplishing mandates for protection, preservation, and management of cave resources could not be met.

Comments and feedback about Resource Ramblings are encouraged and can be made to Dan Foster, in person, or via email.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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