Sunday, April 25, 2010

BoG Candidate Jay Clark's reply on Youth Group Liaison Committee

The elections for the National Speleological Society Board of Governors is coming up. I sent an open letter to all the candidates asking them for their views on the role of the NSS Youth Group Liaison Committee and how they would support it if elected to the BoG. I'm posting their replies in no particular order.

I see education and conservation as 2 of our main goals. Education starts at a young age and never ends. Proper education teaches conservation. Many youth groups have misconceptions about caves and the critters therein- that may have seen the descent and think there are creatures who reside there. I am in favor of starting cave education and conservation at a young age. I am the preserve manager for Tumbling Rock cave for the SCCi and we seen a great deal of traffic from young groups. I and the other manager work with each group to teach them about the cave and cave life. I am also in favor of trying to recruit new members from the ranks of weekend cavers who are not affiliated with any organized group. I am against openly advertising and trying to solicit members off the street to join a caving group. My feeling is that there are an infinite number of potential cavers or “spelunkers” and only a finite number of caves, so confine our efforts to those who will enjoy and respect our resources. Education at a young age can perhaps prevent vandalism, accidents or other problems. I would see your group working with scouts and outdoor groups at schools or church groups to encourage trips to caves where they could get the experience without causing any overuse problems. Unfortunately access is becoming a problem because of the WNS problems and again education plays a big role here. I have been on the Board before and I don’t recall any issues with the Youth Group coming up then. I am a lawyer and specialize in defending people who get sued. I do risk management for non-profit groups. I am reluctant to have the NSS assume any risk that it should not for a lot of reasons and would not be in favor of the NSS sponsoring trips for youth groups without analyzing the recreational use statutes of the State where the trip was to take place. I have and will continue to give advice to such groups on potential legal issues. I am in favor of representatives of your group giving educational talks to various groups and going on trips—not leading as such. I hope this answers your inquiry. Jay Clark

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