The Month's Guano

November 1999
Kansas City Area Grotto
Volume 13, Issue 11

October Minutes
A New Cave Crayfish!
Ropes to Get Old and Die
Cave Rescue in Barry County
Dig Report
CCC Meeting
Under the Highlands

October Minutes

  • Treasury Report
    Regan Youngman reported that there is currently $612.71 in the treasury. Mike McKinney asked for approval for a $100.00 advance from the treasury to cover initial NCRC expenses until some registration money comes in. His request was approved.

    Regan asked for member input regarding KCAG buying rope for knot tying practice. Members suggested that rope could be purchased for that purpose at the next MVOR. Members suggested that we could also donate some of our own retired rope.

    Members voted to reimburse our MSS representatives for gasoline expenses to and from MSS meetings.

  • Fundraising Projects
    Members decided to definitely set up a vendor booth at the next MVOR to sell batteries and biohazard bags that we can acquire at wholesale prices through various members.

    Bryon Carmoney reported that he found out that the hosts of last year's Fall MVOR netted a $3000.00 profit, making MVOR hosting a potentially more profitable fundraising effort than we thought previously.

  • Carroll Cave Conservancy/Dig
    Rick Hines reported that three people attended the last CCC meeting. The Conservancy has approximately $190.00 in the treasury after filing and paying the fee for 501C3 status.

    Rick showed member the anemometer used to measure air flow at the last dig. See last Carrol Cave dig Report for details.

  • NCRC Orientation Weekend
    Mike McKinney and Terry DeFraties updated members on the progress of planning for next spring's KCAG sponsored NCRC rescue Orientation. The orientation is primarily targeted to rescue personnel (EMT's firemen, etc.) as well as cavers.

    Some support team positions have been filled:

    The following support team positions still need to be filled: See the October Guano for details on the rescue Orientation to be held May 13 & 14, 2000 at Meramec State park.

    A Registration form is also included in the printed form of The Guano.

  • MSS (Missouri Speleological Survey)
  • Jeff Page attended the MSS meeting September 18. HE passed around a draft of an MSS brochure/application for membership. Some members commented that the information contained in the brochure was very interesting and inquired as to where they may obtain the MSS brochures when they are available. Jeff reported the MSS voted to formerly protest Kit Bond's 'Rider' regarding mining of federal land.

    Mss bylaws were amended to allow a vote regarding MSS meetings being held twice per year rather that three times per year. KCAG members voted for meetings Twice per years.

  • Trip Reports
  • Regan Youngman and Terry DeFraties attended the TAG (Tennessee/Alabama/Georgia) convention October 8-9. They went to Sweet Pot cave which had three vertical drops.
  • Nominating Committee
  • Regan will take nominations for KCAG officers at the November Meeting. The elections will be held in January.
  • Holiday Party
  • The Holiday Party will be held at 6 PM on December 11 at the home of Rick Hines. The dinner is potluck, however meat will be provided by the Grotto.
  • Novice Equipment/Liability Issues.
  • Due to the ongoing discussion regarding whether charging novices a rental or maintenance fee for the use of Grotto helmets and lights would effect liability issues, Bryon appointed Kathy Sumner to research the matter and gather input for from members. The use of liability waivers was also discussed and that matter will also be researched.
  • New Member
  • Mike McKinney nominated Mike Fraley for membership, noting the contributions he has already made to KCAG-The Web Page and NCRC Orientation Support. Mike was accepted for membership.
  • Meeting adjourned at 9 PM.


    Article V. Elections. The election of officers shall be conducted in the following manner:
    A. At the November meeting, the Vice-president will appoint a nominating committee of at least three (3) grotto members.
    B. The nominating committee will submit its report at the December meeting, at which time additional nominations shall be accepted from the floor.
    C. All nominees must give the grotto verbal or written consent before the end of the December meeting for their names to be placed on the ballot.
    D. Elections will be held at the January meeting.
    E. Absentee ballots will be provided by the Vice-president following a members written request. Absentee ballots must be returned to the Vice-president before the January meeting.
    F. Officers will be elected by a majority of those voting.
    G. Unfilled or vacated offices may be filed by presidential appointment, unless overruled by a majority vote of the members.

    2000 KCAG Officers Nomination Ballot

    Please fill out and submit your Nomination

    Nomination form can be found in the printed form of the October Guano

    A New Cave Crayfish Species for Missouri!

    The Missouri Department of Conservation has determined that a stygobitic (aquatic, cave-adapted) crayfish from Ozark County is new to science. MDC cave biologist Bill Elliott, Ken Lister, and Melissa Shiver studied caves in the Caney Mountain Conservation Area, owned by MDC, on August 16, 1999. Their trip was part of a field project, funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in search of the Ozark big-eared bat and another rare cave crayfish, Cambarus aculabrum (neither was found in Missouri).

    They followed up on an old report by visitors that crayfishes inhabit one of the caves at Caney Mountain. MDC found a small population of blind crayfish in a muddy stream passage, and Lister collected one adult male and one adult female for identification by an expert taxonomist (cave biologist Horton H. Hobbs III). Elliott extensively photographed the specimens and the "first form" (mature) male's gonopods (mating appendages), which are important in identifying different species. Tissue from the female was deep frozen for DNA work by a geneticist, and both specimens were preserved for study.

    A small population of crayfish live in the cave, but they are difficult to census because of the muddy water. Biologists from the Shedd Aquarium had observed several adults and juveniles two years ago. For conservation reasons, the cave name will not be announced to the public and access will have to be restricted for scientific studies. Fortunately, the cave is inside a protected "Natural Area" inside the Conservation Area, and is far from any development or known pollution sources. It is not a pretty cave and will not be missed by most visitors.

    Elliott suspected that the species would be new since no cave-adapted crayfish were known from Ozark County. He was thrilled when he studied his photos and realized that this was a species of the genus Orconectes, instead of one of the two known cave crayfishes in Missouri, which are Cambarus hubrichti (Salem cave crayfish) and Cambarus setosus (bristly cave crayfish from the Springfield Plateau). Ozark County was in a gap between the known ranges of these two species.

    Five species of blind Orconectes inhabit caves from Indiana to Alabama. "Beep" Hobbs said he just about fell off his chair when he examined the specimens and realized that this was the first blind Orconectes from west of the Mississippi River. Missouri has 19 epigean (surface-dwelling) Orconectes, but had no cave species until this one. A photo of the new species may be seen on the Biospeleology web site at:

    Finding a new species of cave crayfish is a rare event. In Missouri Cambarus setosus was described in 1889 and C. hubrichti was described in 1952. The latest American cave crayfish, Orconectes sheltae, was described in 1997 from Shelta Cave, Alabama, but only after years of study by John Cooper. That species was found to have an extremely slow growth rate, low reproductive rate, and long life span; males mature after the age of 40, and individuals may live to 100 years. Other cave-adapted crayfish may have similar life histories, so it is important to carefully study and conserve cave crayfish populations.

    Bill Elliott will be leading field studies of the new crayfish, and hopes to find other populations in the area. Cavers can help the scientific effort by reporting sightings of cave crayfish to Bill. Some cave streams contain pale, but eyed, epigean crayfish. Either way, they are difficult to see when you are wading through streams and a cloud of mud is advancing in front of you. Please do not collect animals unless you have a MDC Wildlife Collector's Permit. Good macrophotos of crayfish may help, but they are of limited use because of the microscopic characters that must be examined.

    It is still quite possible that other new cave species remain to be discovered in the Ozarks. The following Missouri Karst counties have no identified populations of blind crayfish but are good candidates: Stone, Taney, Douglas, Webster, Wright, Texas, Polk, Dallas, and Laclede.


    William R. Elliott, Ph.D.
    Cave Biologist
    Missouri Department of Conservation
    Natural History Section

    Ropes to Get Old and Die

    At the last MVG meeting there was some discussion of the grotto's aging rope and the need to replace it. On page 482 of the 1988 Speleo Digest there is a reprint of an article on rope aging by Bruce Smith that first appeared in the "Nylon Highway, No. 25." There are a number of very interesting things in the article

    A destructive test was made on eight sections of a 70' piece of 7/16 PMI that was 8 years old. The ends of the rope (receiving less wear and abuse) usually had a 20% higher breaking strength than the middle sections of the rope with the exception of one piece in the middle that was stronger than the ends. This rope had been chemically weakened so these numbers may be skewed. There is also a table giving approximate strength numbers for rope aging for several different types of rope depending on use. The numbers given range from 2% strength loss per year for new rope to as much as 15% for abused rope.

    Last but not least there is a brief discussion of what happens to nylon when it gets wet (it gets weak until dried) and the permanent damage that can occur with exposure to chemicals. (In the case of the tests they used Downy fabric softener).

    In any event, after reading the article it looks to me that replacing ropes after 10 years is certainly the smart thing to do.

    Printed with permission.

    Cave Rescue in Barry County

    A rescue team from a Barry County Fire Department freed a man who was trapped for hours in a cave. The rescue took place Monday on a steep grade inside onyx cave near Eagle Rock. The Barry County Sheriffs office says 35 year old Dale Jetton and his teenage nephew were exploring when the Berryville, Arkansas man got stuck in a narrow hole. The 16 year-old tried for several hours to free his uncle before going for help. Eagle Rock Fire Department Chief Ron Creek; "We hooked him into a harness ... pine board to do the job properly, so they have a body harness to put him in -- lift him straight out of the hole." Jetton was airlifted to Cox South Hospital where he is in fair condition today.

    Jim Kaufmann

    Just passing along information from KOLR-10 in Springfield: This is why we need to have the NCRC training...

    Dig Report
    Carroll Dig 37
    October 16 and 17, 1999
    No Easy Way In

    Diggers: Tom Grant, Mike Hartley, Carolyn Hartley, Rick Hines, Peddgie Heinz, Andy Isbell, Tim McClain
    Visitors: Greg Buckley, Doug Feakes, Greg Fry, Andy Free, Marty Griffin, Bruce, Jennifer

    We spent the weekend probing the two cave rooms below the dig for an easy entrance into Carroll. None was found. We dug at the back of the second room, following the airflow under the bedrock wall on the Northwest. We probed at the bottom of the wormhole at about the 75-foot level. I even cut a 2-foot opening through the 6- pipe at the 32-foot level to look for the opening where bats emerged in December 1997. We will continue to look for the easy way for another dig or two.

    If we are unable to break into another cave passage from the existing rooms we may be forced to abandon the two cave rooms and start extending the vertical shaft again. When the rains come the dig will funnel water into the first cave room. The water will erode the 15-foot high mud and gravel bank that we climb down to get into the room. The mud and water will flow into the second room and down the wormhole. Some think the water will wash open a path to Carroll; others think the wormhole will be filled.

    If we are to continue dropping the vertical shaft we will need to construct an overhead derrick and a power winch system.

    We confirmed that airflow between the dig and the cave is controlled primarily by temperature. When the outside temperature is above cave temperature (approximately 59F) air is sucked into the cave. When the outside temperature is below cave temperature air blows out of the sink. Saturday morning, with the outside air temperature near 70, air was being sucked in through the 2" chain holes in the lid at 275 feet per minute. Early Sunday morning, with the air temperature at 43, the cave was blowing at 300 FPM. After breakfast the temperature climbed to 52 and the air was moving out at 75 FPM.

    Thanks again to Kevin Berdak for the loan of his anemometer. Thanks to Carolyn Hartley for the excellent chili dinner Saturday. Thanks also to Gerry Gattenby for the donation of a 10-foot steel ladder.

    Digs are scheduled the third weekend of each month.

    Dig 38......November 20-21
    Dig 39......December 18-19

    Report submitted by Rick Hines.

    CCC Meeting #7, Oct 9, 1999
    Short meeting - Long boat ride

    With only Rick Hines, Kay Hines and Martha Hoegler present the meeting was efficient and short. Two items of business:

    1) We have $100.92 in the bank.

    2) We have submitted an application to the I R S for a "determination letter" on our 501 (c) (3) status. A $150 application fee has been paid.

    I am glad to see that most of you are more interested in digging than meetings.

    Hopefully attendance will be better at the dig this weekend. We will continue to follow the air using Kevin Berdak's anemometer. It will be interesting to see how the air moves as the outside temperature approaches cave temperature. I would also like to explore the point where we encountered bats in December of 97. This will require cutting a portal through the steel shoring at about the 32' level.

    Please let me know if you can help at the dig. We also need additional ladders.

    Rick Hines

    Under the Highlands
    The OHG Newsletter Volume 22, Number 10 / October 1999
    Edited by Lawrence Ireland


    NOVEMBER 3 - BUSINESS MEETING at the Kearney Branch Library (east of Grant and Kearney, on the South side of the road) at 7 p.m.

    DECEMBER 1 - BUSINESS MEETING at Fantastic Caverns at 6 p.m. Located near Ritter Spring Park north of town, between 160 and 13 Highways, the easiest way to find this beautiful show cave is by simply following the signs! Note that the meeting will start one hour earlier than usual. Punctuality will be appreciated, as will our timely departure (host Jim Mason will be working three hours late for us)!

    NEWS: 23 people came to our October business meeting at the Kearney Branch Library. Topics discussed this month: Under the Highlands editor Jack Rosenkoetter is sorely lacking stories for publication - any contributions are welcome. Jon Beard heralded news from the MSS meeting: Missouri Speleology is being published again - the first half of the 1997 issue was just put out (good luck to OHG's Bob Taylor in getting this production caught up again); the Carroll dig is going well and blowing; the digitization of the state's cave files is progressing; finally, Joel Laws and Scott House proposed reducing the MSS meeting frequency from three to just two meetings per year (OHG'ers give a unanimous thumbs-down). Garrison Cave, now at 10,412.8 feet, just reached the third-longest ranking in southwest Missouri, with much more to go. Our Education/Outreach activities include visiting Yankee cavers, two college Speleology classes, and a Topeka scout group. The OHG library, now quite massive and scattered throughout several different homes, needs a new, preferably sole caretaker. Consisting of at least one large bookcase and a 5-drawer filing cabinet, any Springfield resident interested in housing our extensive collection should express their ideas to the executive committee and/or Jon Beard. Lawrence Ireland and Hal Baker were both recently elected to join the MCKC Board of Directors. Don Toole is currently drafting a grant proposal for MCKC's education/research interests at Crystal Caverns (expect another cleanup trip there soon). Leo Thompson stirred us up with pictures from South Dakota, and talk of digging at Greenwood Cave - good potential - more later? Perhaps most importantly, grotto elections are coming up and therefore a nomination committee has been appointed: seek Wayne Pierce and Carl Wagner with your opinions and nominations. (Will the 2000 bunch find as many cool things to spend our money on? Will we make more or less of our grotto in the next 12 months? Can you count on this newsletter being this late again in the future? YOU DECIDE, OHG'ers! - GET ACTIVE!)

    President Carl Thayer is back from TAG with a HUGE spool of rope - PMI Maxi-Wear from Howie's Harnesses! Pick your length and, for a reasonable price ($.40/ft.), you'll support OHG too!

    November 1999 Vol.13 Issue 11
    The Month's Guano is published on the second Wednesday. Twelve issues annually.
    Submit articles to editor at least 10 days prior to publication date. Guano Subscription rate for nonmenbers:$6.00 anually.

    President: Byron Carmoney
    Vice President: Regan Youngman
    Treasurer: Regan Youngman
    Secretary: Kathy Sumner
    Editor:Byron Carmoney
    Asst. ED:Kate Johnson
                Wayne A. Burnett
    E-mail adress:

    Kansas City Area Grotto is affiliated witht he National Speleological Society, The Misouri Speleological Survey, and a Founding Member of Misouri Caves & Karst Conservancy.

    Meetings helf every second Wednesday at 7p.m. (alternate site in May), Magg Hall, behind Spencer Laboratories, Volker Blvd. & Cherry, Kansas City, Misouri. Annual Dues: $10 for Full Members (3 caving trips with KCAG, nonmination and vote of membership required.)

    NCRC Callout number Emergency use only

    Central Region 502-564-7815. This number may be used for cave rescue emergencies in the states of, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Misouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.