As part of its charter to protect and preserve cave and karst resources, the WCC has built partnerships with numerous landowners. Two recent additions to this group are:
- Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) who have protected and cared for land within the Bay Area since 1977, preserving it for future generations.
- Sempervirens Fund, who have permanently preserved more than 54 square miles of redwood forest in the Bay Area since 1900.
These two entities worked together in recent years to make one large acquisition of land within the Bay Area.
Unbeknownst to them at the time, this acquisition included fragile karst resources and a number of caves. These caves have been known to the caving community for several decades, but not to the general public. The Western Cave Conservancy (WCC) contacted the new landowners and informed them of these valuable assets, offering to partner with them on management and conservation. After discussion, all parties reached an agreement, formalized under an MOU, to create a mutually beneficial working relationship. Under this agreement:
– The WCC brought in expertise providing POST and Sempervirens Fund with the means and resources to manage and protect the karst resources and caves within the property at no cost to them.
– The WCC has been able to add these resources to the list of caves it manages, whilst providing the caving community with responsible, managed and legal access to them.
As part of this agreement the WCC took on specific tasks, as follows:
- Locate all caves and other underground resources on the property.
- Protect these resources, working with the landowners to add security gates, where necessary, and to restrict access to managed trips by responsible parties.
- Explore and map these resources, whether natural or man-made.
- Encourage and support scientific studies for the benefit of groups beyond the Bay Area.
- Provide responsible, recreational access to the caving community in line with the WCC’s charters, preserving the caves in their current state for future generations.
The relationship has been in place for several years now and continues to be a successful model for how the WCC partners with landowners as a Cave Conservancy.