Three days with Jerry Trout

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Cave management trip
Location Cottonwood, Black, Ira Barnes Fenceline Cave, and others
Author William Tucker
Date June 13-16, 2010

Tammy and I were honored to be invited to meet with Jerry Trout and a few others for three days of caving and cave management plan discussions. The meetings took place on June 14 - 16, 2010 at the Guadalupe Administrative Site just outside of Queen, New Mexico in the Guadalupe Mountains. The purpose of the meeting was to help form a cave management plan for the Guadalupe Ranger District of Lincoln National Forest.

Tammy and I arrived on Sunday evening (June 13) to find a double-wide trailer which belongs to the fish and wildlife service. We were the only ones there that night, Jerry and the others showed up the next morning. The others included: Jerry Trout, Diane Gillespie, Bruce Lynn, Tom Gilleland and J.D. Mizer. Deanna Younger and Mark Joot joined us in the evenings for some of the discussions.



Human mandible, an example of a significant cave resource requiring management

On Monday, we spent most of the day in Cottonwood cave looking at the management difficulties of this resource. Cottonwood is the most heavily visited cave in the Guads. Its location is well known and it is believed to be visited by a large number of non-permitted and often ill-prepared spelunkers. These spelunkers often do not have a conservation mindset and present a significant source of damage to the speleological resources of Cottonwood cave. It would help to instill in these individuals a concern for the protection of the cave. The cave is partially protected by gates and includes a number of significant speleological, biological, paleontological and anthropological resources. Jerry showed us through and described the early history of the discovery of certain portions of the cave including the first discovery. He also described the efforts involved in protecting and studying the cave.

On Monday evening, we discussed cave management plans for the Guadalupe Ranger District. We looked at a number of cave management prescriptions and plans from various other locations including the Sierra Vista Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest and past plans and programs of the Lincoln. We devised a general form of plans for the forest with prescriptions for individual caves or sections. We came up with a detailed prescription for Cottonwood cave involving some new and exciting ideas for management of that cave.


On Tuesday we visited Black cave and another historic cave. Black is a management problem. It is a significant cave with rich history and geology and frequent visitation from recreational cavers. It has been a restoration and management problem and it is difficult to keep trail markers in the cave. Rodents run off with most of the flagging tape and the reflective markers used now have had mixed results. Later in the afternoon, we visited another historic cave with a rich history with more discussion of cave management plans and prescriptions in the evening. Jerry also gave a slide show of some of the early caving in the Guads. We began to detail the contents of the cave management plan for the forest and the prescriptions of some of the caves.


Human bone fragment

On Wednesday, we visited a significant anthropological resource. The partial remains of 5 individuals have been identified there with one being described as an unborn child. We took a passing look at Ira Barnes Fenceline cave and noted the airflow from this small hole in the ground. We finished up our discussions in the evening after some green chili cheeseburgers at the Queen store.

I am not going to detail the content of the discussions as the results will be made known in time and through the proper channels. I will just say that it was a privilege to cave with Jerry, Diane, J.D., Tom and Bruce and to see the Guad caves from a different perspective. Jerry is an extremely knowledgeable and capable cave manager, with a long history and love of caving and the caves of the Guadalupe Mountains.