Beneath the forest

Beneath the forest

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Beneath the forest
Kovarik, Johanna L.
Forest Sercice of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Forest management -- United States ( lcsh )
Caves ( lcsh )
Karst ( lcsh )
serial ( sobekcm )


Beneath the forest is a biannual newsletter published by the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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Spring 2016

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Beneath the Forest 1 Beneath the Forest is a biannual newsletter published by the Forest Service of the U.S. Depa rtment of Agriculture. Edited by Johanna L. Kovarik, Minerals and Geology Management Volume 9, Issue 1 Spring 2016 Inside this Issueand much more... Page Bat Week 2015: A Soaring Success! 3 Carolina Exfoliation Caves Ecological Inventory 20 Black Hills National Forest Cave Monitoring Trips 23 Hoosier National Forest Sinkhole Project 6 Sandia Cave Restoration Project 13


Beneath the Forest 2 CAVE AND KARST CALENDAR OF EVENTS ------------------------------------------------------------------------------White-Nose Syndrome Workshop June 610, 2016 Denver, CO International Conference on Subterranean Biology June 13 17, 2016 Fayetteville, Arkansas National Speleological Society Convention 75th Anniversary July 16 23, 2016 Ely, Nevada Geological Society of America National Conference September 25 2016 Denver, CO Abstracts due July 12 Bat Week 2016 October 24 31, 2016 Editors Notes: I am pleased to present our 16th issue of Beneath the Forest, the Forest Service cave and karst newsletter, published twice a year in the spring and in the fall. Our next issue will be the spring issue in November of 2016. Articles for the Fall 2016 issue are due on October 1 2016 in order for the issue to be out in November 2016. We welcome contributions from stakeholders and volunteers as well as forest employees. Please encourage resource managers, cavers, karst scientists, and other speleological enthusiasts who do work on your forest to submit articles for the next exciting issue! Cover art: Two individuals excavating at the mouth of Sandia Cave, circa 1936. Image: Property of Maxwell Museum Contributors and Entities represented in this issue: Sandra Arazi-Coambs Cibola National Forest and Grasslands Tory Houser White River National Forest Jerry Lewis, Ph.D. Lewis and Associates Biological Consulting LLC Buford Pruitt National Speleological Society Carrin Rich Sandia Grotto, National Speleological Society Cynthia Sandeno Eastern Region Deanna Stever Minerals and Geology Management Jason Walz Lincoln National Forest


Beneath the Forest 3 2015 Bat Week: A Soaring Success Cynthia Sandeno Eastern Region Introduction Bat week is an annual, international celebration of the importance of those flying, furry mammals we love and need so much. In order to build support for the protection of bats, future stewards must be fostered. And, conservation agencies around the globe joined forces to focus attention on the dynamic roles that bats play in our environment and our economy. Invisible or unobserved to many, bats are hard at work every night eating tons of insect s, pollinating flowers, and spreading seeds to grow ne w plants and trees. This years Bat Week focused on providing healthy places for bats to live and culminated in a World Record attempt to build the Most Bat Houses in a Single Day. Signature Event Bat Week began with a larg e press conference held at the Department of the Interior. During the event, both the Departments of Interior and Agriculture stood together to read proclamati ons for Bat Week. That evening, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) hosted a reception on Capitol Hill that featured bat-inspired foods (those that are made possible by bat pollination or the pest control offered by bats). Over 300 congressional staffers, federal agency folks, and members of the public attended the reception and interacted with seven educational stations. Why Celebrate Bats? Bats are good for people a nd are essential to our environment and economy. Bats in the United States eat thousands of tons of insects nightly including mosquitoes, moths, beetles, crickets, and much more. Many of these are serious crop or forests pests or spread disease to humans or livestock. Every year, bats save us billions of dollars in pest control simply by eating insects. (Bat Week continued on page 4) Top: People around the world helped to set a World Record during Bat Week for building 1,341 bat houses in a single day! Image: USFS Bottom: Senator Leahy receives a personalized bat house to thank him for his leadership in bat conservation during the Signature Event held on Ca pitol Hill. Image: USFS


Beneath the Forest 4 In addition to insect control, bats serve other important ecological functions. From deserts to rainforests, nectar-feeding bats throughout the world are critical pollinators. Over 500 plant species rely on bats to pollinate their flowers, including plants of great economic and ecological value such as bananas, peaches, mangos, cloves, carob, balsa wood, and agave. In the tropics, fruit-eating ba ts disperse seeds that are critical to restoring rainfore sts that have been cleared for agriculture, logging, ranc hing, or other uses. The recovery of these forest s requires seed-scattering by birds, primates, bats, and other animals. Bats are so effective at dispersing seeds into these devastated forestlands that theyve been called the farmers of the tropics. Bats also play a significant role in science and medicine. Research conducted on bats has led to advancements in sonar, vaccine development, blood anti-coagulation, and more. And, bats need us now more than ever. White-Nose Syndrome, a deadly fungal disease (harmless to humans), has killed over six million bats in the United States and Canada. (Bat Week continued from page 3) World Record Attempt Bats need places to roost during the summer as they raise their young. Summer roosts include live and dead trees with cracks, caviti es, and loose bark. Bats also use human structures such as old buildings, bridges, and bat houses. Bat houses provide a safe, warm place for mother bats to raise their young. Because most of our bats only have one baby a year, having a safe harbor is esp ecially important. By joining forces, partners were able to host over 60 bat house building events around the world achieving a new World Record the creation of 1,341 bat houses! Partnership Power Partnerships are the key to Bat Weeks success. This amazing collaboration builds upon partnerships and strategically leverages resources and networks. (Bat Week continued on page 5) The White River National Forest in Region 2 spent the day with a kindergarten class talking about bats and White-Nose Syndrome during Bat Week. Image: T. Houser


Beneath the Forest 5 In this way, we can reach a large, diverse audience with our key bat conservation me ssages we reached over 159 million people during Bat Week! The steering team is comprised of representatives from federal agencies, conservation organizations and business including Bat Conservation International, Lubee Bat Conservancy, Organization for Bat Conservation, The Save Lucy campaign, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Wildlife Acoustics. (Continued from Bat Week page 4) Fort Stanton Cave Display on the Lincoln National Forest Jason Walz Lincoln National Forest Its official, the Lincoln now has one of the most awesome cave displays in the country! Stop by the Smokey Bear Ranger District office on the Lincoln National Forest to check it out. This project is an adaptable partnership/displa y project with the Fort Stanton Cave Study Project (FSCSP), the Bureau of Land Management, and you. Do Your part: Check out the display and leave feedback in the comment box so we can make improvements and know what is working well. Progress: Phase 1 (Complete) Install equipment to display Caver Quest, a computer program written by Ron Lipinski from the FSCSP. The program is a game simulation experience of walking through passages of Fort Stanton Cave. Sections of it are exactly as they are in the cave, using actual photos from the locations stitched to the real cave dimensions. Phase 2 (In Progress) Install an 8 long wall ma p of the cave (near completion). Install improved and additional poster-signs that explain more about the cave, partnerships and conservation. Install large-scale cave photos. Long term Continue to take photos and map remote areas of Fort Stanton Cave to add to Caver Quest. Ron Lipinski (programmer) has agreed to complete areas deeper in the cave, so eventually the simulation will take you to the Deep Cave Camp, 10 miles in! Lincoln National Forest staff ta king an interactive learning adventure underground at the Ft. Stanton Cave display. Image: J. Walz


Beneath the Forest 6 Is the environment in these sinkholes different from the surrounding forest? Do they ha rbor rare or interesting animal communities? How does forest management affect these ecosystems? To answer these and many other questions, the project commenced with the selection of 25 sinkholes located in 12 tracts during the period in late summer of 2015. (Hoosier continued on page 7) Hoosier National Forest Sinkhole Project Julian J. Lewis, Ph.D. Lewis & Associates Biological Consulting LLC They have no clue whether what they are doing is good or bad, theyre just doing it so it looks like theyre doing something Theres no data to support this practice one way or the other. That was the appraisal of a forestry professor chatting with me as we watched a demonstration by personnel from a logging company at a sinkhole on North Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The occasion was the field trip for the 1997 National Cave Management Symposium at Bellingham, Washington that focused on forest karst resources. Ive long since forgotten that professors name, but his words I remember well. For much of my 40 year career as a cave biologist Ive done what cave biologists do go to caves. Ive visited countless caves over the years, including hundreds in my home state of Indiana, but had ne ver paid much attention to the entrance sinks, since my mission was always to sample the fauna of the cave. That changed in 2015 when I started a project evaluating the ecology of sinkholes on the Hoosier National Forest (HNF). There are volumes written on forestry management, and thanks to decades of work in caves, a growing understanding of subterranean ecology.but little is known of sinkholes as ecosystems. In Indiana some sinks are barely noticeable depressions small enough to step across, while others span distances large enough for farm fields. In the HNF sinkholes occur in all sorts of surface environments ranging from native deciduous forest, to monoculture pine plantations, glades and old farm fields. Hoosier National Forest project area map. Image: J. Lewis


Beneath the Forest 7 (Hoosier continued from page 6) The location of the sinks nearly spanned the HNF, from the Deam Wilderness in M onroe County to the Perry County glades along the Ohio River (Figure 1). The plan was to visit each of the 25 sinkholes four times to evaluate seasonal changes in the habitat and community. At each site a precise loca tion was established per GPS and the physical dimensions of the sink were measured. The temperature and relative humidity was taken at the each sinkholes rim and floor to investigate the degree to which they were buffered from surface conditions (figure 2). A quarter square meter quadrat of the organic layer on the floor of the sinks was removed (figure 3), weighed in the fi eld and then sifted to extract the finer detritus a nd all of the invertebrates contained therein (figure 4) This sample was then bagged for return to the lab for to extract the invertebrates with a Berles e funnel extractor (figure 5, page 8). (Hoosier continued on page 8) Top, left: Figure 2 Jerry Le wis measuring temperature at Union Cemetery Sink. Top, right: Figure 3 Keith Dunlap measuring a quadrat at Kimball Tract Sink. Bottom: Figure 4 Salisa Lewis sifting organic material from the floor at Deam Wilderness Sink. Images: J. Lewis


Beneath the Forest 8 The leaf litter was placed in the funnel with a light placed above it that gradually warms and dries the detritus, driving the critters to their demise in a vial of alcohol waiting below. In the surface environment it was certain that a diverse array of invertebrates were going to be found many more than could be possibly identified to the species level. Among invertebra te groups there is not necessarily an expert in the taxonomy of the group who can reliably identify specimens to the species level. Some invertebrate groups are common, yet have never (Hoosier continued from page 7) been studied enough to a llow identification. For these and other reasons, five invertebrate groups were selected for investigation: (1) land snails, (2) millipedes, (3) terrestrial isopods, (4) spiders and (5) pseudoscorpions. For each of these groups the taxonomy was sufficiently understood to allow identification and either I or another person had the expertise to identify collections. All of the targeted invert ebrate groups contained obligate cave inhabitants, for example troglobites. Troglobites were of partic ular interest since by definition they were animals that were believed to be restricted to caves, but I thought might be found in the buffered environments of sinkholes. Among the millipedes and terrestrial isopods there were both native and exotic species that might be found, which would be informative to lear n to what extent sinkhole habitats have been invaded by non-native species that might be replacing the native fauna. The project is in-progress, but a wealth of information is already available. All 25 sinks evaluated in late summer conditions, regardless of size or depth, displayed temperature de pression (mean of 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit lower) and humidity elevation (mean of 22.7 percent hi gher) on the floors as compared to their rims, summarized in a linear regression (figure 6, page 9). In contrast, during an unusually warm January day, the sinks at the Boone Creek gl ades still harbored snow and ice on their floors (figur e 7, page 10). Sinkholes are buffered environments, slow to change temperature. Likewise, humidity remains elevated in the floors, an extremely important fact to karst invertebrates that require high humidity for their existence. Two species previously known on the HNF only from caves were found inhabiting sinkhole floor habitats. (Hoosier continued on page 9) Figure 5 The Berlese funnel with the light warming and drying the organic material. Image: J. Lewis


Beneath the Forest 9 These were Bollmans cave millipede Conotyla bollmani and the Gray-handed pseudoscorpion Kleptochthonius griseomanus both species endemic to the Indiana karst. In caves the millipede is always completely unpigmented and white in appearance, but in contrast millipedes from the sinkhole floor populations were darkly pi gmented (Figures 8a/8b, page 10). The Gray-handed pseudoscorpion is an extremely rare animal th at researchers only found previously in only four caves, typically only 1-2 of these tiny animals. Despite the fact that researchers only found it in caves, the eco logical classification of the species remained a question mark. That question (Hoosier continued from page 8) was answered in the HNF Kimball Tract sinkhole #1, where the quarter meter square leaf litter sample contained over a dozen Kleptochthonius griseomanus! This remains as enigmatic as it was surprising, since this sinkhole seems unremarkable as compared to three others in the same tract where this rare species has not been found. The most diverse species of the targeted groups has proved to be the spiders, of which 46 taxa have been identified to date (followed by 31 taxa of land snails). We discovered several species of spiders previously unknown from Indiana, for example, Phrurolithus singulus or Gladicosa pulchra, now known to occur in Indiana only in HNF sinkholes. (Hoosier continued on page 10) Figure 6 All 25 sinks evaluated in late summer conditions, regardless of size or depth, displayed temperature depression (mea n of 8.6 F degrees lower) and humidity elevation (mean of 22 .7% higher) on the floors as compared to their rims, summarized in this linear regression. Graph: J. Lewis


Beneath the Forest 10 Both are species mostly known in more southerly, warmer climates. Apparently sinkholes are sufficiently buffered to allow them to exist in the colder climate of Indiana at the northern e dge of their ranges. Similarly, the Wandering spider Anahita punctulata was another southern species previously known from only three cave entrances in southern Indiana (two in the HNF). This species is not cave adapted and it seemed apparent that it used cave entrances as (Hoosier continued from page 9) environmental refuges on the northern edge of its range in Indiana. It was not surprising to find these Wandering spiders in sinkholes spread across seven of the HNF tracts. What has been learned about how surface management effects the ecology of sinkholes? The plant communities and canopy cover in which sinkholes were located were divided in five categories: (1) complete deciduous forest canopy, (2) partial deciduous forest canopy (forest canopy broken by dead trees or other factors that de prived the sink of leaf-fall), (3) conifer-deciduous canopy (pine plantations with deciduous invaders), (4) glade (areas of natural prairie in scattered deciduous forest ), and (5) abandoned farm fields/pasture grasslands. Th e effect of the amount of biomass on the sinkhole floor was striking when graphed (figure 9, page 11) Sinkholes in deciduous forest captured plentiful amount s of organic leaf litter, whereas fields where trees had been removed had almost no organic matter on the floors. (Hoosier continued on page 11) Figure 7 The sinks at the Boon e Creek glades still harbored snow and ice on their floors during a warm day. Image: J. Lewis Figure s 8a/8b In contrast to caves, millipedes from the sinkhole floor populations w ere darkly pigmented. Images: J. Lewis


Beneath the Forest 11 Top: Figure 9 The amount of biomass on the sinkhole floor, graphed. Bottom: Figure 10 The Correlation between the amount of organic matter present and the number of taxa. Graphs: J. Lewis


Beneath the Forest 12 The concomitant effect was a significant correlation between the amount of orga nic matter present on the sink floor and the number of target taxa presentthe number of species present was linked to the amount of leaf litter present, i.e., the more litter, the more animals present (figure 10, page 11) The conclusions are obvious and can guide future management: on the Hoosier National Forest sinkholes constitute a mosaic of ecotones (zones of transition) between the surface and subt erranean ecosystems. The sinks are inhabited by unique animal communities, the presence and diversity of which are strongly linked to forest management. Rare species and Regional Forester Sensitive Species are usually present. Optimal conditions for sinkhole comm unities are comprised of unbroken deciduous forest canopy surrounding the sinkholes, therefore it follows that the best management practice is to encourage the presence of unbroken deciduous forest in the recharge zone of sinkholes. Acknowledgments --Assistance with the field work for the project by volunteers from the Indiana Karst Conservancy, Salisa Lewis, Marc Milne and Keith Dunlap, is gratefully acknowledged. For the identification of specimens I thank Dr. Milne (spiders) and Dan Doursone (gastropods). The project was funded by the Hoosier National Forest, administered by Ron Scott and Steve Harriss. (Hoosier continued from page 11) Forest Service Statement of Nondiscrimination : The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and wh ere applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individuals income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohib ited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for co mmunication of program information (Braille, large print, a udiotape, etc.) should contact USDAs TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.. Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Renewed Partnership with the Cave Research Foundation Johanna Kovarik, Ph.D. Minerals and Geology Management This past April the Forest Service finalized the renewal of the memorandum of unde rstanding (MOU) with the Cave Research Foundation (CRF). The CRF has been a long-time partner of the Fo rest Service, engaging and assisting in projects such as construction of bats gates, research and exploration, and database construction and management. CRF President Ed Klausner stated, The Cave Research Foundation is very pleased to continue our collaboration with the Forest Service to meet our common goals: study, interpre t, and protect our cave and karst resources in our national forests. We look forward to continued coll aboration long into the future. The new MOU will be in place for the next five years, when it will once again be re viewed for renewal. The MOU is available on the cave and karst program SharePoint site for internal Forest Service personnel: https://ems-team.usda.go v/sites/fs-mgm-caves/ _layouts/15/start.aspx#/SitePages/Home.aspx Many thanks go to the Forest Service Business Administrative Support Services (BASS) personnel who facilitated and executed the renewal, and to Ed Klausner, CRF president and his organization for all their work and dedication to Forest Service cave and karst resources. To learn more about the CRF, please visit:


Beneath the Forest 13 Sandia Cave Restoration Sandra Arazi-Coambs Cibola National Forest Carrin Rich Sandia Grotto, National Speleological Society Sandia Cave (formally known as Sandia Man Cave) is a Traditional Cultural Property and a National Historic Landmark that has pl ayed an important role in the history of archaeolo gical thought about the Paleoindian period and Southw estern archaeology. The site is located high on the east side of Las Huertas Canyon in the northern Sandia Mo untains, just east of the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This horizontal solution cavity lies within Madera limestone formation that is dated to the Pennsylva nian Age. It is relatively small in size, 466.4 feet in length, with only a few interior places where a person can stand erect. The site is accessible by car and appears on many maps and navigation apps, and features a half-mile trail with spectacular views and a thrill ing 20-foot spiral staircase to the cave mouth. Unfortuna tely, the same ease of access that allows visitors to experience the historic and natural richness of Sandia Cave has also left the site vulnerable to vandalism. Much of Sandia Caves notoriety in the twentieth century derived from the controversial work of Frank Cummings Hibben (19102002), professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico (UNM), and his controversial theories about the pre-Folsom occupation of North America. Hibben conducted excavations in Sandia Cave from 1936 through 1941. In his excavat ion results, he attempted to associate prehistoric human material with extinct Pleistocene fauna, incl uding mammoth, mastodon, horse, and camel. As his excavations were conducted prior to acceptance of radiocarbon dating in the 1950s, his interpretation was based on the stratigraphy of the cave. Hibben purported that below a Folsom Age stratigraphic layer that c ontained several fluted projectile points was a la yer of material where Pleistocene fauna were found in association with a distinct type of stone projec tile point. This type of point, dubbed Sandia points by Hibben, had a single-shouldered side reminiscent of Solutrean points found in northwest Europe (22,000 17,000 B.P.). (Sandia continues on page 14) The entrance and spiral staircase outside of Sandia Cave, New Mexico. Image: USFS


Beneath the Forest 14 The find was significant, as it suggested that human use of Sandia Cave represen ted the earliest known occupation in North America, predating the Folsom period, which was the oldest established period at that time. Controversy erupted rega rding the true age of the points, as other archaeol ogists questioned the caves proper stratigraphy and whet her Hibben himself had planted the artifacts. In particular, Hibbens contemporaries questioned whether the stra tigraphy of Sandia Cave was intact and whether there was mixing of layers from rodent activ ity, artificially integrating later period artifacts into earlier layers. Following a series of published academic articles questioning the veracity of the finds at Sandia Cave, Hibbens work was largely discredited. (Sandia Continued from page 13) Recent reanalysis of faunal material from the Hibben excavations has provided ad equate closure to the debate surrounding prehisto ric human use of Sandia Cave. In a 2008 analysis of patterns of bone fragmentation researchers c oncluded that most of the bones recovered from the cave, including those from extinct Pleistocene species, were introduced by carnivores. Human use of the cave appears to be sporadic, and only two percen t of the bones analyzed in the study displayed evidence of possible human modification, in the form of cut and percussion marks, charring, and bone tool manu facture. Subsequent studies where modified bone material was subjected to radiocarbon dating indicate that there is no evidence for human use of the cave prior to the Folsom period. (Sandia continued on page 15) A group of archaeology students who assisted in the first year of Hibben excavations and survey, circa 1936, with a fresh survey mark on the left wall and a K&E transit on a wooden tripod. (Above, Image property of the Maxwell Museum). Historic markings from the Hibben surveys, overlain with partia lly-removed silver spray-paint ( inset left, Image: USFS).


Beneath the Forest 15 accessed were heavily and repeatedly vandalized with spray paint, marker, nail polish, and etching. The cave walls were severely sooted and blackened by fires illegally lit in its interior and large amounts of graffiti and litter appeared along the trail from the parking area. USFS archaeologists concerned with Sandia Cave believed that the heavy graffiti at the site potentially obscured valuable historic and prehistoric markings on the rock surface of the cave. In fall 2013 the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands paired with Sa ndia Grotto, a local chapter of the National Speleologi cal Society (NSS) and members of New Mexico Site Watch to address the possibility of restoring Sandia Cave to a more natural-looking state. (Sandia continued on page 16) Despite the controversy surrounding Hibbens excavation results, the debate that ensued over Sandia Cave continues to be tau ght in the history of Paleoindian and Southwes tern archaeology. Popular and professional articles re visiting the site and discussing the Hibben contr oversy continue to be published into the 21st centur y and suggest that Sandia Cave has significance because of its persistent use from the Paleoindian period to the present. Even while this site holds contemporary cultural and spiritual significance to many surrounding Native American communities, the integrity of Sandia Cave diminished extensively throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The mouth of the cave, its first two chambers, and the metal infrastructure by which the cave is (Sandia continued from page 14) Top: A pseudokarst feature, ex isting within basalt. A cave entrance is present within the talus. Bottom: Kyle Rowinski conducting on-site data recording with ArcCollector. Images: J. Sadorski First chamber of Sandia Cave, pre-restoration. Layers of spraypainted graffiti on the walls and extensive smoke damage along the ceiling are evident. Image: USFS


Beneath the Forest 16 Developing an action plan to mitigate degradation at Sandia posed special challenges due to the multitude of agencies and groups that are concerned with the cave, have ancestral ties to that land, or are involved in its ongoing management. Discus sion of restoration strategies was conducted over a two-year period and involved extensive outreach and collaboration with Pueblo tribal members, state and federal governments, and specialists in graffiti removal, archaeology, and cave science. Once a proposal was developed, it had to be reviewed internally by the Forest Service, the National Park Service, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, affiliated tribal members, and experts from the NSS Southwestern Region (SWR) and Sandia Grotto. In January 2015 UNM Public Archaeology graduate student Katherine Shaum collaborated with Sandia Grotto and the Forest Service to submit a grant to New Mexico Historic Preserva tion Division to fund the restoration. The grant wa s awarded and provided $16,777 toward the project. The services of Rock Art Specialist Dr. Jannie Loubser of Stratum Unlimited in Alpharetta, Georgia [] were contracted to lead the restoration. (Sandia continued from page 15) Dr. Loubsers experience with restoring other natural and cultural sites throughout the American West and his sensitivity to art forms that are all but obscured by graffiti placed him in a unique position to lead the restoration effort at Sandia Cave. Mounting a wide-scale restoration at Sandia Cave was complex for a number of reasons. The graffiti covering the site had accumulated over a number of decades and existed in layers and in multiple varying media. Restoration techniques that might work on one layer wouldnt necessarily work on the next layer. Likewise, the rock surface of the cave and trail varies in its composition, so removal techniques that worked on one instance of graffiti wouldnt necessarily be effective on a neighboring instance, even if only a foot away. Of particular concern for this cave was that graffiti might be overlying historic or prehistoric markings of unique and irreplaceable value. Effective techniques for removing graffiti but preserving any potential underlying features had to be customized for each of the 75 discrete instances of defacement that were removed during the restoration. (Sandia continued on page 17) Prehistoric handprint on the ceilin g, made in the yellow ocher that is naturally-occurring in the cave. Image: Mike Bilbo DStretch of prehistori c handprint on the ceiling, made in the yellow ocher that is naturall y-occurring in the cave. Image: Mike Bilbo


Beneath the Forest 17 Adding to the challenges is the fact that Sandia Cave is positioned some 300 feet above the floor of Las Huertas Canyon (and the dirt road below). Materials had to be hauled manually up and down this rise, including rinse water from the nearby Las Huertas Creek, which Dr. Loubser recommended as a rinse for its chemical similarity to the natural elements at Sandia Cave. After an initial site a ssessment in April 2015, Dr. Loubser returned to mount th e bulk of the restoration effort, with assistance from Forest Service employees from multiple ranger districts throughout New Mexico, and a tremendous outpouring of volunteer support from New Mexico Site Watch, Members of NSS SWR and Sandia Grotto, and members of the general public from the Albuquerque area. For two consecutive weeks in June and July 2015, the site was closed to the public and Dr. Loubser trained vol unteers in specialized removal techniques. More than 32 individuals logged volunteer hours with the Forest Serv ice during the project, totaling some 670 labor hours. (Sandia continued from page 16) To say the restoration effort at Sandia Cave was nearly entirely volunteer-based would not be an understatement. Under Dr. Loubsers guidance, volunteers trained other volunteers and were immediately able to apply wh at they were learning to the rock surfaces of the site. A wide variety of removal techniques were employed at Sandia Cave, starting with safer dry techniques and moving on to riskier wet techniques that involved the use of solvents where needed. Areas in the second chamber that might contain fragile underlying markings of historic signif icance were marked off with blue masking tape, and left undisturbed. Dry paint brushes were first used to remove loose dirt and dry dust from many rock surfaces. Steel brushes of various sizes, steel dental pi cks, and elbow grease were used to chip away materials that readily dislodged from the rock. Battery operated drills with rotating steelhaired brushes and Dremel drills with diamond-tipped bits were effective on more resistant, larger and etched graffiti. (Sandia continued on page 18) Red ocher lines (enhanced with PhotoShop) on the cave ceiling that Loubser considers to be o f considerable antiquity, as they underlie the yellow ocher handprints. Also visible here are historic markings from the Hibben excavations Image: Dr. Jamie Loubster Shield-bearing figure of indefinite age in the second chamber. Image: USFS


Beneath the Forest 18 A tungsten-tipped Paasche air eraser was used on 11 site surfaces outside the cave, yet its efficacy was limited by the physical infeasibility of employing a portable generator and compressor unit at the site. The carbon dioxide tank with pressure gauge that was used provided insufficient air pressure to make this a more useful approach, and containing the aluminum oxide particles the eraser blasted proved problematic for use inside the cave. Even with these dry techniques, multiple creek water rinses were necessary to facilitate complete removal, and all 75 instances of graffiti that were removed from the site depended on the application of water. Great care had to be taken to capture all runoff and washed-off debris so no paint remains collected on the floor of the cave to damage the site further. Disposable rag cloths and paper towels were used extensively to catch applied water before it flowed down rock surfaces, and pooling of any sort was not allowed. Used rags and towels were transported off-site daily, and clean rags and towels were brought in for each days work. Paper towels soaked in water were applied as poultices on nine panels within the cave and were effective in lifting bonded dust from the rock surface. (Sandia continued from page 17) All solvents used in the Sandia Cave restoration were biodegradable and of neutra l pH. The most effective solvents used were This Stuff Works Multi-Master (containing potassium hydroxide), Sensitive Surface Graffiti Remover (containing limonene plant oil), and Elephant Snot (active in gredients unspecified by manufacturer). Which of these would be most effective on any given graffiti was determined by rolling a small cotton poultice soaked in each solvent over a portion of the graffito and gauging how much material was transferred onto the cotton by each solvent. The most effective solvent was then applied by paint brush to a small, manageable area; the treated area was then scrubbed with a steel brush and rinsed repeatedly with water before moving to the next small area to be treated. Water rinsing during and after removal with solvents was vital throughout the site to ensure no solvent residue remained on the rock. Volunteers conducting the removal were ubiquitously seen balancing a spray bottle of water, a cloth rag for blotting, a steel brush for scrubbing, and a small container of solvent with pa int brush for application. (Sandia continued on page 19) Dr. Jannie Loubser uses a Dremel tool to break up and blend etched graffiti in the firs t chamber. Image: USFS Dr. Jannie Loubser and two volunteers use paper towel poultices and steel dental picks to remove acrylic paint. Image: USFS


Beneath the Forest 19 The process was painstaking, repetitive, and slow-moving, and involved tr eating the same area multiple times to remove graffiti layer by layer. This conservative approach, while time-consuming, allowed for safe and controlled removal while preventing damage to underlying rock and any markings of archaeological significance. Post-removal camouflaging was required on more than half the instances of graffiti at Sandia Cave. Hard brushing and abrasive techniques had the potential to remove not just unwanted graffiti but the outer skin of the rock as well. Lighter-color ed patches that were left in these instances required th e application of inorganic pigment powders to visually blend the treated area with the surrounding rock. Many volunteers were surprised to learn of this additive co mponent of the restoration process; graffiti was first removed and camouflaging was then applied to achieve a complete restoration. The camouflages used at Sandia were Earth Pigments (dark (Sandia continued from page 18) umber, burnt sienna, and light-yellow ocher), as well as charcoal harvested from fire s burned in the vicinity the carbon remains of the ar eas natural vegetation. For each instance of graffiti, the color profile of the surrounding rock was assessed and a customized combination of pigments was mixed. The surface to be treated was wetted with creek water, and the pigment mixture was combined with water to make a paint-like liquid that could be applied to the rock surface with a paint brush or spray bottle Charcoal was frequently applied dry, and was esp ecially effective in camouflaging etched graffiti inside the cave. While the lighter pigments were used extensively on the lower surfaces of the cave and expos ed trail rocks, a mixture of black manganese pigment powder and pulverized charcoal was employed on the ceiling of the cave to blend with the darker surfaces found there. One of the most valuable and enduring aspects of the Sandia Cave restoration project was the Cave Open House that was held on June 27th in the midst of the restoration work. During the Open House, the site was opened to the public, and ove r a hundred visitors had the opportunity to see the restoration in progress, to speak with volunteers from their own communities who were carrying out the work, and to get guided tours of the cave from USFS Cave Specialist Jason Walz and USFS Archaeologist Sandra Arazi-Coambs. Reporters from local news outlets covered the event, and the project was publicized in bot h print and television, allowing the restoration effort to reach an even broader audience. The results of the restorati on work at Sandia Cave are both striking and enduring. Si nce the end of the project in July, no new graffiti has appeared in the cave, lending credence to the idea that graffiti attracts more graffiti, and that a site that is clean and well-maintained is more likely to remain so. (Sandia continued on page 20) Wyatt Armstrong mixes charcoal camouflage to apply by brush. Image: USFS


Beneath the Forest 20 To protect the achievemen ts attained during the restoration, Sandia Grotto volunteers and Forest Service employees implemented weekly monitoring of the site immediately followi ng the restoration, and that monitoring continues toda y. Fewer than ten new incidents of graffiti have a ppeared along the trail since the end of the restoration. These incidents are small in size, and have been photo documented and painted over or removed and camouflaged quickly after application. The ongoing, visible presence of these volunteers offers opportunities to connect with and educate the visiting public, and communicates that this is a site that is actively cared for and respect ed. A new standard of comportment appears to be emerging at Sandia Cave, evidenced by a reduction in litter, partying, and abuse of the site. Through the efforts of all who have contributed, Albuquerques sacrifice cave is becoming a place of educati on, awareness, and respect for our common natural and cultural heritage. For updates on the continuing rest oration of Sandia Cave, visit Sandia Grottos website at sandia/Sandia_Cave/. (Sandia continued from page 19) Carolina Exfoliation Caves Ecological Inventory Buford Pruitt National Speleological Society There are no caves in North Carolina. I dont know how many times I have heard that from my Carolina kinfolk, mountain foxfire people who have lived in Transylvania Count y since at least the late 1600s. I have also heard it from cavers who said that, while there were indeed a few limestone caves in the state, they were few and far between. However, during a hike along a Carolina wildland trail, I found a cave! Furthermore, it was not a limestone cave, being formed instead in granitic gneiss. I had no idea how such a hard rock cave came into being or how common gneiss caves might be, but I was determined to find out. I mapped it and named it July Cave. At that time, all caves on Forest Service lands were closed due to concern over white nose syndrome. However, July is so small that I was able to survey it from outside the entrance drip line without ev er entering. It has a tiny, intermittent stream that I assume is carving out the cave, powered by winter freeze-thaw physics. It also shelters trogloxenic camel crickets and harvestmen by day, which venture out by night to feed in the surrounding forest. Over the ne xt several years, I saw many more of these two i nvertebrates in Carolina gneiss caves, but never knew what species they were for lack of suitable taxonomic resources. (Carolina continued on page 21) First chamber of Sandia Cave, post-restoration. The natural appearance achieved here has been greeting visitors since July 2015, and to date remains unmarred by new graffiti. Scott Christenson in background. Image: USFS


Beneath the Forest 21 Then I learned about the Granite City caves, became perplexed by their geology, and obtained authorization from Forest Service to document them. After two years of study, they were recognized as a new kind of cave the exfoliation cave as discussed in the Fall 2015 issue of Beneath the Forest and the February 2016 issue of the NSS News. Since then, I have refocused my attention from the geology of Carolina exfoliati on caves to their ecology, and the 2016 season will be devoted to obtaining identifications of as many inve rtebrate taxa as possible. I have obtained most of th e available publications on North Carolina gneiss cave invertebrates, but the database is extremely limited and is often in the gray literature. Those missives plus my own observations have enabled me to assemble a list of the kinds of invertebrates most likely to occur in Carolina gneiss caves. Cave-adapted Opilionids, for example, have been described from adjacent states, but not North Carolina. Several taxonomists have agreed to accept specimens and either try to identify th em or pass them on to more appropriate colleagues. A re nowned spider taxonomist (Carolina continued from page 20) has been identifying spiders I collect from caves for the past five years, plus a second arachnologist working with genomics has become interested in my collections, so I am confident about that component. Similarly, I am in communication with a third genomic worker on cave pseudoscorpions and a fourth (also genetics) on cave crustaceans. Doubtless, once the project gets cranking up, these four will refer me to other scientists currently cashing in on the genomics and proteomics revolution. Most of the taxonomic work on camel crickets was done over 75 years ago and no one has worked on them in decades. Recent research on camel crickets in Texas demonstrates that semi-isolated caves can harbor endemics and that the gene tic separation between even sister species can be very deep in time. Is that the situation in North Carolinas exfoliation caves? If the latter are as spatially proximate to each other as the Texas caves are, and if Caro lina camel crickets are as faithful to their home caves as Texas crickets are, then the potentially great ages of exfoliation caves suggest at least some endemism. It would be nice to generate some interest in applying genomics technologies here, but regardless, I plan to collect limited series from study caves at least for documentation if not also identification. I dont really expect to find crustaceans in exfoliation caves because of the general absence of standing water, nor snails due to the acidity of wall drip films, but what about taxa such as millipedes, springtails, and diplurans? Some of these will be impossible to identify at the present time, but considering the pressures on endemic biota today, it is important to at least document them in research museum collections where they can be more easily assembled and studied when resources become available. Hopefully, the successfulness of initial effort s to attract cooperators is a harbinger of more to come. (Carolina continued on page 22) The entrance to July Cave in North Carolina. Image: B. Pruitt


Beneath the Forest 22 My work will be done at se veral exfoliation cave sites. The Granite City caves are central to continuing this research thread, but I also plan to add privately owned August Cave, The Nature Conservancys Bat Cave (Carolinas longest gneiss cave), and perhaps others. In -cave leaf litter and soil sa mples will be quantitatively collected and processed via Berlese funnels. Larger invertebrates will be hand-collected in series of small numbers. Most collections are expected to be preserved in alcohol, but live samples may be required for genomics analyses. All samples will be maintained in research museums or associated university curations. Hopefully, this research will tell us if North Carolinas exfoliation caves support cave-adapted and/or endemic invertebrate species. Taxonomy is the alphabet of ecology, and it will take us a long way toward unde rstanding the caves food chains and webs. Quantitative collections will then build upon that to help determine what dominates each trophic level. From there, we can assess which caves and which parts of those caves are most important to target species. Understanding a caves ecology requires knowledge of how animals aggr egate within it. Bats are famous for massing up, but a ggregations of invertebrates also occur. Mosquito es and Tipulidae flies occur occasionally at cave entrances, but only the Tipulidae (Carolina continued from page 21) aggregate, mosquitoes being more scattered. In the daytime during warm months, camel crickets and harvestmen spread out over large expanses of the ceiling and walls near entrance s. In colder months, they mass up into very dense aggr egations located further into the caves. There can be hundreds to thousands of them in a small cave the year around, suggesting that a relatively large acreage is needed to support the nightly foraging of a single caves population. Are these caves keystone habitats or ju st favored alternatives? Representative aggregations will be photographed in an effort to census them as noninvasively as possible, and aggregation locations will be identified on cave maps. Although not as volant as bats, these little mega populations may need these caves just as much, and we can start to assess that ec ological role by censusing them and determining their preferred seasonal microhabitats. This will also inform cave managers seeking to mitigate human visitation impacts. Ceuthophilus sp. aggregation in Cold Rain Cave. Image: B. Pruitt Ceuthophilus sp. in July Cave. Image: B. Pruitt


Beneath the Forest 23 Black Hills National Forest Cave Inventory and Monitoring Trips Deanna Stever Minerals and Geology Management I joined two wildlife biologists Matthew Stefanich and Rob Nagel from the Bear lodge District office on a trip to two of their caves in the Grand Canyon area. Members of the Paha Sapa Grotto have provided the Forest Service with locati ons and description of the caves and a map of Grand Canyon Cave. The purpose of our trip was to locate and explore the caves while looking for bat use. Our first stop was Crooks Cave. The entrance is a small dusty squeeze located in an overhang. We removed debris and some dirt from the squeeze to make it slightly larger and ventured into the cave. The cave consists of a small room with a low ceiling and some small chimneys that follow fractures up toward domes. The domes vary from a few f eet to more than ten feet up and have a calcite spar lin ing mostly in the form of nailhead spar with a small amount of dogtooth spar. Calcite spar often forms in thermal waters in the phreatic zone. They need a saturated solution, undisturbed location and time to grow these large crystals. Invertebrate fossils are visible in the cave ceiling and walls. The floor of the cave is a collection of debris most likely all from packrats. We found several roosting bats including a few Towsends big eared bats. Our second stop was at Gr and Canyon Cave. The outcrop and the entrance show ed cavities filled with large calcite crystals. The entrance is a large crawl onto a ledge that drops onto an angl ed slope. There is an old ladder here to aid the descen t but it is not needed. The ladder has some sturdy rungs and a few that are about to fail. On this level is an elongated room with walls covered in large calcite cr ystals. Calcite spar often forms in thermal waters in the phreatic zone. They need a saturated solution, undistu rbed location and time to grow these large crystals. (Black Hills continued on page 24) Image, Top: View out of Crooks Cave into the forest. Image, Bottom: Roosting bats in Crooks Cave. Images: D. Stever


Beneath the Forest 24 This room is well-lit from the entrance and has algal growth. The crystals are hi ghly weathered in a few locations and are exposing th eir internal crystalline structure. This room also had a large number of small flies that almost looked like mosquitoes and a large amount of packrat feces and collected debris. We continued down to the next level over a small drop and into a long room with a low ceiling. These walls are also covered in a calc ite crystal lining. I found a scary looking brown (widow) spider hanging in its web and a few locations of small subaerial popcorn. Cave popcorn, a type of coralloid, c onsists of small balls of calcite or aragonite that pr oject outward from bedrock surfaces or other speleothems. Sometimes popcorn grows preferentially in windy ar eas, or in splash zones near a waterfall. In some cases the tangle of projection can indicate direction of air flow. This room had a large collection of random, really old bones that may be of interest to paleontologists. (Black Hills continued from page 23) From here the cave slopes down to another low-ceiling room with a thick crystal line lining. Much of the ceiling lining has broken off onto the floor. This room has boxwork and altered bedrock on the ceiling and it seems water occasionally flows into this room from a fracture in the bedrock. Af ter enough exploration we exited the cave and Matthew explored a small passage above the entrance that had some colorful coatings on the calcite crystals. Editors Note: The Washington Office Minerals and Geology Management is pleased to have the author of this article and previously the geologist on the Ely District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Deanna Stever, working as a volunteer ge ologist with us, hosted part-time by the Bearlodge Ranger District on the Black Hills National Forest. Many thanks to District Ranger Steve Kozel and his staff for hosting Deanna. Deanna is work ing on several research projects for the cave and karst program including geologic and hydrologic overvie ws of forests with cave and/ or karst development. Welcome, Deanna! Matthew Stefanich explores a small passage above the entrance of Grand Canyon Cave. Image: D. Stever Calcite dogtooth spar in Grand Canyon Cave. Image: D. Stever


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