It sometimes happens that cave visitation must be restricted due to run-away vandalism or sensitive biological resources. The preferred means to accomplish this objective is to spread the word why access is limited and provide a mechanism for controlled, legitimate access. However, some cavers refuse to cooperate. When all attempts to achieve appropriate management objectives fail, or landowner relations require access restrictions, cave gating becomes a necessary evil.
Pictured at upper left is the first gate installed by the IKC. At that time, gating was a controversial topic in the caver community. This gate was repeatedly vandalized and some bad feelings resulted. Yet in the intervening years, most cavers have come to recognize the merits of protecting cave resources from those who are disrespectful. The IKC also established a grotto liaison policy that helped restore the trust of organized cavers.
Cave gating isn't nearly the issue that it was in the mid-80s. Still, an improper gate can restrict the passage of air, animals and nutrients into the cave system and may damage the very resource it was designed to protect. Although gate design has improved substantially (a gate constructed in 1997 is shown at right), cave gating remains a management approach that should be avoided whenever possible.