Montana Cave Conservation Act

Montana Cave Conservation Act

article. 9 (1993)

23-2-901. Short title.

This part may be cited as “The Montana Cave Conservation Act”. History: En. Sec. 1, Ch. 264, L. 1993.

23-2-902. Definitions. As used in this part, the following definitions apply:

(1) “Cave” means any geologically formed void or cavity beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge, including but not limited to natural subsurface water and drainage systems, whether or not a natural entrance is present. The term does not include a mine, tunnel, aqueduct, or human-made excavation but does include any natural structure that is commonly known as a cavern, sinkhole, pit, grotto, or rock shelter and that communicates with a subterranean passage or drainage system.

(2) “Cave life” means any life form that occurs in, uses, visits, or inhabits a cave.

(3) “Gate” means a structure or devices located to limit or prohibit access or entry to a cave.

(4) “Material” means all or part of any archaeological, cultural, paleontological, biological, or historical item or artifact found in a cave, including but not limited to any petroglyph, pictograph, pottery, basketwork, fossil, human remains, or animal remains.

(5) “Owner” means any person or public or private agency that has the right to possession of a cave.

(6) “Person” means an individual, partnership, firm, association, trust, corporation, or other legal entity.

(7) “Speleogen” means the surrounding natural earth or bedrock in which a cave is formed, including but not limited to clastic sediments, walls, floors, ceiling, and other related structural and geological features.

(8) “Speleothem” means a natural mineral formation or deposit occurring in a cave, including but not limited to formations known as stalagmite, stalactite, helectite, shield, anthodite, gypsum flower and needle, angel’s hair, soda straw, drapery, bacon, cave pearl, popcorn, rimstone dam, column, palette, and flowstone. A speleothem is commonly composed of calcite, gypsum, epsomite, aragonite, celestite, or other similar mineral. History En. Sec. 2, Ch. 264, L. 1993.

23-2-903. Vandalism of cave unlawful.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), a person may not purposely or knowingly:

(a) carve, write, mark upon, break, crack, burn, or remove or in any manner destroy, disturb, deface, mar, or harm the surfaces of any cave or material found in a cave, whether attached or broken, including speleothems, speleogens, and sedimentary deposits;

(b) break, force, tamper with, or otherwise disturb a lock, gate, door, or other obstruction designed to control or prevent access to a cave;

(c) remove, deface, or tamper with a sign stating that a cave is posted or citing provisions of this part; or

(d)disturb or alter in any way the natural condition of a cave.
(2) The provisions of subsection (1) do not apply to a cave owner or the owner’s authorized agent, officer, employee, or designated representative who undertakes work to improve or control physical access to the cave. History: En. Sec. 3, Ch. 264, L. 1993.

23-2-904. Disturbance of cave life unlawful.

A person may not purposely or knowingly remove, kill, harm, or otherwise interfere with cave life, except for health or safety reasons or when the act is a minimal disturbance or for removal of organisms for recognized scientific inquiry. Gates at the entrance or at any point within a cave must be of open construction to allow unimpeded passage of air, insects, bats, and other cave life. History: En. Sec. 4, Ch. 264, L. 1993.

23-2-905. Pollution of and burning harmful substances in cave unlawful.

(1) A person may not purposely or knowingly store, dump, litter, dispose of, or otherwise place in a cave any refuse, garbage, dead animal, sewage, or toxic substance harmful to cave life or human life.

(2) A person may not burn in a cave any substance that produces smoke or gas that is or may be harmful to cave life. The use of a carbide lamp that produces acetylene gas is permitted. History: En. Sec. 5, Ch. 264, L. 1993.

23-2-906. Sale of speleothems and speleogens unlawful.

A person may not sell, offer for sale, or export for sale any speleothem or speleogen. History: En. Sec. 6, Ch. 264, L. 1993.

23-2-907. Conditions of owner liability.

The liability of the owner of a cave or the owner’s authorized agent, officer, employee, or designated representative acting within the scope of authority is restricted pursuant to 70-16- 302. History: En. Sec. 7, Ch. 264, L. 1993.

23-2-908. Penalty.

A person convicted of violating any provision of this part is subject to a fine of not less than $500 or more than $2,000, imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 60 days, or both. History: En. Sec. 9, Ch. 264, L. 1993.

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