The Virginia Region of the NSS
Navigation Links
Virginia Region Caving
VAR home page

VAR Events
Grand Caverns
Spring VAR
Fall VAR
Regional Events & Surveys
How to host a VAR
Past VAR Meetings

VAR Business
VAR Awards
VAR Officers
VAR Meeting Minutes
VAR Charter
VAR Grant Guidelines
Region History

Communications
VAR Listserv
The Region Record

Conservation
Report Conservation Project
Cave Bucks
Cave Conservancies
Closed Cave Lists
Cave Laws
Pigeon, Mt, GA

Links to
VAR Grottos and Organizations
Caving Equipment Suppliers
Links To Other Sites

Maryland Cave Law

§ 5-1401 Definitions

  • (a) Generally. -- In this subtitle, the following terms have the meanings indicated.


  • (b) "Cave" means any naturally occurring void, cavity, recess, or system of interconnecting passages beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge, including natural subsurface water and drainage systems. The word "cave" includes or is synonymous with cavern, sinkhole, grotto, and rock shelter.


  • (c) "Commercial cave" means any cave with improved trails and lighting utilized by the owner for the purpose of exhibition to the general public as a profit or nonprofit enterprise, wherein a fee is collected for entry.


  • (d) "Gate" means any structure or device located to limit or prohibit access or entry to any cave.


  • (e) "Person or persons" means any individual, partnership, firm, association, trust, or corporation.


  • (f) "Speleothem" means a natural secondary mineral formation or deposit occurring in a cave. This includes or is synonymous with stalagmites, stalactites, helectites, anthodites, gypsum flowers, needles, angel's hair, soda straws, draperies, bacon, cave pearls, popcorn (coral), rimstone dams, columns, palettes, flowstone, et cetera. Speleothems are commonly composed of calcite, epsomite, gypsum, aragonite, celestite and other similar minerals.


  • (g) "Owner" means a person who has the right of access (or possession) to the cave.


  • (h) "Speleogen" means an erosional feature of the cave boundary and includes or is synonymous with anastomoses, scallops, rills, flutes, spongework, and pendants.


  • (i) "Sinkhole" means a natural depression in a land surface communicating with a subterranean passage or drainage system.


  • (j) "Cave life" means any life form which normally occurs in, uses, visits, or inhabits any cave or subterranean water system, excepting, herein, those animals and species covered by any of the game laws of this State.
§ 5-1402 Prohibitions

  • (a) (1) A person may not, without express, prior, written permission of an owner, wilfully or knowingly:


  • (i) Break, break-off, crack, carve upon, write, burn, or otherwise mark upon, remove, or in any manner destroy, disturb, deface, mar, or harm the surfaces of any cave or any natural material which may be found therein whether attached or broken, including speleothems, speleogens, and sedimentary deposits;


  • (ii) Disturb or alter in any manner the natural condition of any cave; or


  • (iii) Break, force, tamper with, or otherwise disturb a lock, gate, door, or other obstruction designed to control or prevent access to any cave, even though entrance thereto may not be gained.


  • (2) However, the entering or remaining in a cave by itself shall not constitute a violation of this section.


  • (b) A person may not dispose of, dump, store, or otherwise introduce into any cave, sinkhole, or subterranean drainage system any litter, refuse, dead animals, sewage, trash, garbage, or any chemical or biological contaminant which is potentially dangerous to man or any form of cave life.


  • (c) Unless otherwise established by the Secretary and clearly posted at the cave entrance, caves having access within the boundaries of public properties shall be open for recreational purposes.


  • (d) Any person violating any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $500, and in addition thereto, may be imprisoned for not less than ten days nor more than six months.
§ 5-1403 Sale of speleothems

  • A person may not sell or offer for sale any speleothems in this State, or to export them for sale outside the State. A person who violates any of the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than $500 and in addition may be imprisoned for not less than ten days nor more than six months.
§ 5-1404 Disturbing cave life; scientific collecting permits

  • (a) A person may not remove, disfigure, kill, harm, disturb, keep, restrain, or in any manner alter the natural condition or environment of any cave life.


  • (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, scientific collecting permits may be obtained from the Secretary.


  • (c) Gates employed at the entrance or at any point within any cave shall be of open construction to allow free and unimpeded passage of air, water, insects, bats, and aquatic fauna.


  • (d) A person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $500 and in addition thereto may be imprisoned for not less than 15 days nor more than 6 months.
§ 5-1405 Permits for Excavation

  • (a) A person may not excavate, remove, destroy, injure, deface, or in any manner disturb any paleontological site or any part thereof, including saltpeter workings, fossils, bones, or any other paleontological features which may be found in any cave.


  • (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, a permit to excavate or remove paleontological features may be obtained from the Secretary. The permit shall be issued for a period of two years and may be renewed at expiration. It is not transferable but this does not preclude persons from working under the direct supervision of the person holding the permit.


  • (c) A person applying for a permit shall:

  • (1) Have knowledge of paleontology.


  • (2) Provide a detailed statement to the Secretary giving the reasons and objectives for excavation or removal and the benefits expected to be obtained from the contemplated work.


  • (3) Provide data and results of any completed excavation, study, or collection at the first of each calendar year.


  • (4) Obtain the prior written permission of the Secretary if the site of the proposed excavation is on State-owned lands and prior written permission of the owner if the site of the proposed excavation is on privately owned land.


  • (5) Carry the permit while exercising the privileges granted.


  • (d) A person who violates any provision of subsection (a) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500, and may be imprisoned for not less than ten days nor more than six months. A person who violates any of the provisions of subsection (b) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500, and the permit shall be revoked.
§ 5-1406 Cave Owner Liability

  • (a) An owner of a cave or the owner's authorized agents acting within the scope of their authority are not liable for injuries sustained by any person using the cave for a recreational or scientific purpose if the prior consent of the owner has been obtained and if no charge has been made for the use of the cave.


  • (b) An owner of a commercial cave is not liable for an injury sustained by a spectator who has paid to view the cave unless:


  • (1) the injury is sustained as a result of the owner's negligence in connection with the providing and maintaining of trails, stairs, electrical wires, or other modifications; and


  • (2) The negligence is the proximate cause of the injury.


(Source: This text was obtained by Bob Hoke from the State of Maryland's Internet site at "HTTP:MSLIC.STATE.MD.US" on March 18, 1997. It is Sections 5-1401 through 5-1406 of the Natural Resources Article. The text was slightly reformatted for publication, but no substantive changes were made to it).


This page was last updated on 18.Sept.2002. Please send suggestions, corrections and updates to webmaster@varegion.org.