Cave and Karst Management

Unless otherwise noted or titled, all courses are held at Hamilton Valley Field Station, located on the border of Mammoth Cave National Park near Bowling Green, Kentucky.

June 22-26, 2019

This course teaches the management of cave and karst natural resources for park, preserve and forest managers, and any other individuals interested in these topics. The course includes detailed information on the many varied resources in caves and their management and conservation; resources include those of biological, archaeological, paleontological, mineralogical and hydrologic importance. A thorough review of both state and federal cave laws, regulations, and policies in also be included. Cave and karst data collection and management and the use GIS will be covered. Additional topics include tourist cave management, cave search and rescue, working with volunteers, cave gating, and cave and karst research, among other topics. The class also includes a detailed review of cave management in consideration of White Nose Syndrome disease in bats. Please refer to the syllabus document and/or tentative course schedule document for more information about the course design and topics to be covered.

Mr. Joel Despain

 Joel Despain has been an active caver since his freshman year in college at the University of Missouri in 1981. He has caved extensively in the US and overseas with caving projects in Kentucky, New Mexico, South Dakota and California and in Malaysia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Bolivia, Haiti, Cuba, Mexico and the Philippines. In 1992, he became the Cave Management Specialist for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Joel completed an MS in karst hydrology and chemistry from Western Kentucky University in 2006. In 2015, Joel became the Regional Cave Management Coordinator for the US Forest Service Region 5 (California). Formerly, he also served on the Board of Directors for the Cave Research Foundation and the Western Cave Conservancy. While in these positions he has overseen numerous caving projects including biological inventories, gate construction, geologic and hydrologic research projects, cave restoration, cave search and rescue, cave diving, cave survey and inventory, cave exploration, cave cultural resources management and cave management plan development. Joel has published multiple professional papers on cave geomorphology, two books on caves in California and has produced more than 200 cave maps. His latest publication is on the caves of Cuba. Joel is a fellow of the National Speleological Society and the Cave Research Foundation. Joel won the 1997 National Cave Map Salon and the troglobitic millipede Pratherodesmus despaini was named for him in 2009. 

Dr. Pat Kambesis

Dr. Pat Kambesis received her Master's degree from Western Kentucky University (WKU). Her thesis focused on the karst hydrogeology of caves and karst in the upper Midwest of the USA. She received her Ph.D. from Mississippi State University through research that focused on the study of coastal karst and caves in the Caribbean and northeastern Yucatan Peninsula and on developing methods for morphometric analysis of caves and karst features. She currently teaches at Western Kentucky University in the Department of Geography and Geology. Her current research includes characterization of hypogene caves and karst in the Western US, the role of condensation corrosion in cave development, and in developing methods to better quantify and visualize cave and karst environments.

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