Living On Karst


You Have a Cave on Your Property:

Helpful Hints for the Cave Landowner

The Legal Aspects of Cave Ownership

Twenty-two states (including Kentucky), Puerto Rico, and the Cherokee Nation currently have laws pertaining to the protection of caves. These laws cover a variety of topics ranging from definitions, protections of features, permits for excavation and scientific investigation, vandalism, and liability. Most state cave laws state that it is illegal to remove or damage anything from a cave, including rocks, formations, animals, or organisms.

For further information on state cave laws, technical services, and management assistance contact your state natural resource management and conservation agencies.

Landowner Liability

Most state cave protection laws expressly limit the landowners' liability for scientific and recreational activities associated with caves. The Kentucky law reads: "Neither the owner of a cave nor his authorized agents acting within the scope of their authority shall be liable for injuries sustained by any person using the cave for recreational or scientific purposes if no charge has been made for the use of the cave, notwithstanding that an inquiry may have been made as to the experience or expertise of the person or persons seeking consent. "

Where to Go for Help

Many organizations are dedicated to caving and cave conservation.

Rockcastle Karst Conservancy, Inc (RKC) - The RKCi is dedicated to the conservation of wild caves, caverns, and karst areas in the Rockcastle County, Kentucky region. Visit

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) - The Nature Conservancy is a national conservation organization committed to preserving natural diversity. The Conservancy is a private, nonprofit group with field offices in all 50 states.

National Speleological Society (NSS) - The NSS is a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to the study, exploration, and conservation of caves and karst environments. For more information, contact: The NSS, 2813 Cave Ave., Huntsville, AL 35810.

American Cave Conservation Association (ACCA) - The ACCA provides educational programs to increase understanding of pollution problems and their solutions in karstlands. Please contact David Foster, ACCA, P.O. Box 409, Horse Cave, KY 42749, for further information.



©  Copyright 1997, Cave Conservancy of the Virginias

Special Thanks To The West Virginia Cave Conservancy

Rockcastle Karst Conservancy