South Austin Wild Cave Tour: Management to Protect Cave Ecosystems

Date: Wed Nov 3, 2021 9am-5pm

Leaders: Rich Zarria and Mark Sanders, biologist AW Balcones Canyonlands Preserve

Summary: Tour of South Austin Cave Preserves that are ecosystems for rare cave species and serve as educational/recreational resources for thousands each year. Each has different entrance security measures to protect the cave and the public, depending on site specific conditions. There are efforts to establish sufficiently large karst preserves to protect cave cricket foraging areas and water source areas to sustain cave ecosystems. Several decades ago, a large maternity bat colony in Goat Cave was eliminated by a cave gate in response to concerns from a new growing neighborhood. Once trash and ranch fill were removed from Wildflower and LaCrosse Caves, their ecosystems are rebounding including nutrient providing bats and cave crickets, despite the shared use with up to 2 thousand school kids and other explorers each year.

Logistics:  Group size will be limited to 20 people. Lunch will be provided so packing one’s own is not required. All lights, helmets, and pads will be provided for those who would like to enter the caves. Personal cave gear will not be allowed to enter the cave in efforts to reduce the chance of cross contamination and possible transfer of WNS. Crawling/stooping through cave passages is required in some caves. Comfortable hiking shoes and a reusable water bottle (drinking water will be provided) are highly suggested. Details are preliminary and subject to change.

Schedule Wednesday November 3, 2021:

9:00 am. Leave from Texas State Activity Center

9:40 am. Grassy Cove Cave

11:00 am Whirlpool Cave

1:00 pm Wildflower Center (La Crosse and Wildflower Caves)

3:00pm Goat Cave Karst Preserve (Goat Cave)

4:15 pm return to San Marcos

5:00pm San Marcos Activity Center