Developing a GIS-Based Inventory for the Implementation of Cave Management Protocols in Withlacoochee State Forest, Florida

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The type of data collected during cave inventories includes a myriad of different parameters; however, the actual practice of field data collection lacks a modern, standardized method. The integration of GIS with methods associated with the inventory of cave resources and utilization patterns improve upon the previously utilized paper-form of inventory. This article discusses the development of a GIS-based method of cave inventory and how its implementation advanced cave management protocols in Withlacoochee State Forest (WSF), Florida. After realizing the need for a more sophisticated and secure method to inventory caves in WSF, an alternative data collection, storage, and manipulation method was expanded that allowed the input and storage of large amounts of spatially-referenced data. The overarching purpose of this study was to create a modernized and user-friendly GIS-based method of cave inventory that encompassed all aspects of the inventory (i.e., data collection, storage, manipulation, and post-processing) for the efficient management of caves in WSF. The GIS-based inventory developed for WSF caves is easily applied by state forest personnel and is aiding in the drafting of management plans for each cave they manage. Having rigorously tested this method in 19 caves, we feel it is applicable to cave systems in all karst areas.

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Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, v. 72, issue 1, p. 35-42