How many caves are in Arizona?
The current count is around 1,600 verified caves. Some cave scientists have estimated that the total number will end up around 4,000 caves. Our survey defines a cave as a human enterable hole that goes 50 ft. in any direction. We define shelters as being less than 50 ft. We also document karst features, springs and some sink holes. Note that there are many caves that have no surface entrance. Studies have estimated that 95% of all caves do not intersect the surface.
Who owns the Caves in Arizona?
The actual cave is owned by the landowner of the land above the cave. In Arizona over 90% of the land, and about 95% of the caves are owned by State and Federal agencies (USFS, NPS, BIA, BLM, AZ Land Trust). The next largest cave owner is the company Phelps Dodge because of their large mining claims. The rest are owned by private land owners.
Does the Arizona Cave Survey (ACS) give out cave locations to the public?
No, we feel that interested people should contact one of the local Arizona Grottos (National Speleological Society Caving Clubs) and learn how to cave properly. A list of grotto web site is here. The grottos have experienced cavers who will teach you the proper techniques to visit caves safely and not impact these fragile resources. Then as you display your conservation-minded attitude and you learn your basic caving skills, the grotto trip leaders will invite you on more advanced cave trips to other caves.
Does the ACS give out information to experienced cavers?
The answer to this depends on the specific situation. First we try to get a reference on the skills and reputation of the caver. Then we try to help the caver go caving with local AZ cavers to the area where they are interested. If a caver already has visited a cave and is looking for historical, geological, paleontological, archaeological information, we try to help provide that information as long as it is not too sensitive. Some caves in Arizona are just too sensitive to share any information.
Does the ACS share Cave information with the owner/manager of the land where the cave is located?
In most cases we will share this information to help the owner better manage their resource. If there are important or unique cave resources in that specific cave we will try to introduce specialists to the owner to help care for those resources properly. Our group has many contacts in the cave science fields and can help find the right specialists for virtually any cave-related work.
Does the ACS share Cave Maps?
Cave maps are Copyrighted works and are only shared with the permission of the author of the map. The ACS tries to acquire copies of all Arizona cave maps for the collection, but due to the sometimes sensitive information on the maps we leave the distribution decision to the author.
Who is the ACS?
The core group consists of a board of active cavers from various parts of the state, and representing the four largest state grottos. The founding members are: Tom Gilleland, Larry Zimmer, Rich Bohman, and Brett Cook. Our GIS specialist is Ben Sainsbury, and we have a variety of cavers who help out on the various cave projects.
What kind of information is the ACS interested in?
We are interested in much more than locations and maps. We are interested in
cave history, biology, archeological use, and even the occasional cave-related alien sighting. Our goal is to document everything associated with Arizona Caves.