36 CFR § 290.3 - Nomination, evaluation, and designation of significant caves.

§ 290.3 Nomination, evaluation, and designation of significant caves.

(a) Nominations for initial and subsequent listings. The authorized officer will give governmental agencies and the public, including those who utilize caves for scientific, educational, or recreational purposes, the opportunity to nominate caves. The authorized officer shall give public notice, including a notice published in the Federal Register, calling for nominations for the initial listing and setting forth the procedures for preparing and submitting the nominations. Nominations for subsequent listings will be accepted from governmental agencies and the public by the Forest Supervisor where the cave is located as new cave discoveries are made. Caves nominated but not approved for designation may be renominated as additional documentation or new information becomes available.

(b) Evaluation for initial and subsequent listings. The evaluation of the nominations for significant caves will be carried out in consultation with individuals and organizations interested in the management and use of caves and cave resources, within the limits imposed by the confidentiality provisions of § 290.4. Nominations shall be evaluated using the criteria in § 290.3 (c) and (d).

(c) Criteria for significant caves. A significant cave on National Forest System lands shall possess one or more of the following features, characteristics, or values.

(1) Biota. The cave provides seasonal or yearlong habitat for organisms or animals, or contains species or subspecies of flora or fauna native to caves, or are sensitive to disturbance, or are found on State or Federal sensitive, threatened, or endangered species lists.

(2) Cultural. The cave contains historic properties or archeological resources (as defined in Parts 800.2 and 296.3 of this chapter respectively, or in 16 U.S.C. 470, et seq.), or other features included in or eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places because of their research importance for history or prehistory, historical associations, or other historical or traditional significance.

(3) Geologic/Mineralogic/Paleontologic. The cave possesses one or more of the following features:

(i) Geologic or mineralogic features that are fragile, represent formation processes that are of scientific interest, or that are otherwise useful for study.

(ii) Deposits of sediments or features useful for evaluating past events.

(iii) Paleontologic resources with potential to contribute useful educational or scientific information.

(4) Hydrologic. The cave is a part of a hydrologic system or contains water which is important to humans, biota, or development of cave resources.

(5) Recreational. The cave provides or could provide recreational opportunities or scenic values.

(6) Educational or scientific. The cave offers opportunities for educational or scientific use; or, the cave is virtually in a pristine state, lacking evidence of contemporary human disturbance or impact; or, the length, volume, total depth, pit depth, height, or similar measurements are notable.

(d) Specially designated areas. All caves located within special management areas, such as Special Geologic Areas, Research Natural Areas, or National Monuments, that are designated wholly or in part due to the cave resources found therein are determined to be significant.

(e) Designation and documentation. If the authorized officer determines that a cave nominated and evaluated under paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section meets one or more of the criteria in paragraph (c) of this section, the authorized officer shall designate the cave as significant. The authorized officer will notify the nominating party of the results of the evaluation and designation. Each forest will retain appropriate documentation for all significant caves located within its administrative boundaries. At a minimum, this documentation shall include a statement of finding signed and dated by the authorized officer and the information used to make the determination. This documentation will be retained as a permanent record in accordance with the confidentiality provision in § 290.4.

(f) Undiscovered passages. If a cave is determined to be significant, its entire extent on federal land, including passages not mapped or discovered at the time of the determination, is deemed significant. This includes caves that extend from lands managed by any other Federal agency into National Forest System lands, as well as caves initially believed to be separate for which interconnecting passages are discovered after significance is determined.

(g) Decision final. The decision to designate or not designate a cave as significant is made at the sole discretion of the authorized officer based upon the criteria in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section and is not subject to further administrative review of appeal under Parts 217 or 251.82 of this chapter.