Canadian Caving header
BC Cave Protection Act (Draft)

First Draft Prepared by P. A. Griffiths December 22, 1988

This version is as reproduced in Stewardship of Cave and Karst Resources in British Columbia: A Review of Legislation, Policy and Management, British Columbia Ministry of Forests, July 1992.

Short Title
This Act may be cited as "The Cave Protection Act"


means a natural underground opening, generally produced by dissolution of limestone; that is penetrable by humans, whether or not the entrance is naturally formed or made by humans, including any natural pit, sinkhole or other surface opening which is an extension or component of a cave;

cave reserve
means a cave reserve designated under section 5;

means the Minister of Environment;

means a funnel-shaped, closed depression sometimes caused by the collapse of a cave passage below the surface of the ground;

means relief features on the walls, ceiling and floor of any cave which are part of the surrounding bedrock, including but not limited to anastomoses, scallops, meander niches, petromorphs and rock pendants;

means deposits of calcite; including stalactites, stalagmites, columns, draperies, flowstone, rimstone, helictites, and other features caused by deposition.

1. The purpose of this Act is to encourage and facilitate the protection and conservation of caves in the Province.

2. The minister shall maintain a registry of caves and cave reserves.

Cave Protection Advisory Board

  1. The Lieutenant Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the minister, may establish a cave protection advisory board to advise the minister respecting furthering the purpose and provisions of this Act.
  2. At least one half of the members of the cave advisory board shall be drawn from the public.
  3. The cave advisory board, at least once every two years or more often if it chooses, shall make recommendations to the minister and the legislature:
    1. stipulating which areas should be designated as cave reserves;
    2. regarding actions that should be taken to fulfil the purpose and provisions of this Act.

4. A member of the cave advisory board shall be paid reasonable travelling and out of pocket expenses necessarily incurred in the discharge of duties.

5. The Lieutenant Governor in Council may designate land, surface and below, whether or not it is covered by water, as a cave reserve.

Prohibited Activities
6. No person shall

  1. dump, dispose, store or otherwise place any logging slash, land clearing refuse, soil, garbage, dead animals, sewage, toxic substances harmful to cave life in a cave or cave reserve;
  2. discard litter or refuse in a cave or cave reserve;
  3. ignite in a cave any material that produces any product of combustion that is harmful to any naturally occurring organism in that cave;
  4. remove, deface or tamper with a notice installed by the minister;
  5. sell or offer for sale a speleothem;
  6. import or export speleothems for a gainful purpose;
  7. engage in rock quarrying in a cave;
  8. cause or risk an alteration in the course of or the amount of flow of water so as to affect that course or amount of flow of water in a cave reserve;
  9. cause or risk an alteration in the direction or velocity of wind so as to affect the stability of trees in a timbered cave reserve.

6.1 No person shall without a permit

  1. break, break off, crack, burn, or otherwise mark, remove, destroy, disturb, deface, mar, or harm the surface of a cave or any natural material in a cave, whether attached or broken, including speleothems, speleogens, and sedimentary deposits;
  2. break, force, tamper with or otherwise disturb a lock, gate, door, or other obstruction designed to control or prevent access to any cave or cave reserve;
  3. remove, kill, harm, or otherwise disturb any naturally occurring organisms found within any cave, except for reasons of safety;
  4. excavate, remove, destroy, injure, deface, or in any manner disturb any burial grounds, historic or prehistoric resources, archeological or paleontological site, including relics, inscriptions, fossils, bones, remains of historical human activity in a cave or cave reserve;
  5. construct a structure, build a road, path or track in a cave reserve;
  6. engage in cutting or logging trees, mining, prospecting or claim staking in a cave reserve;
  7. obstruct or change natural water percolation in a cave reserve due to compaction or vegetation management;
  8. conduct a pesticide application in a cave reserve;
  9. fish, hunt, trap, net or snare any animal in a cave reserve;
  10. remove, destroy or impair any plant, animal, fossil or object of historical or scientific interest in a cave reserve;
  11. introduce to a cave reserve any plant or animal species.

This section shall not apply to a recognized cave rescue unit operating in response to an emergency.

7. The minister or a person authorized in writing by the minister for the purpose, may issue a permit for activities within a cave or cave reserve, and may

  1. limit the application of the terms of a permit to a time period or location;
  2. require a permit holder to provide the minister with reports the minister considers necessary and proper; or
  3. impose other terms and conditions the minister considers necessary and proper.

The minister may cancel or suspend a permit issued under this section.

8. The minister may erect and maintain a notice referring to this Act on or near a cave or cave reserve, and no action for loss, damage or trespass shall be brought for anything done or omitted in good faith under this section.

9. Every person who contravenes section 6 or the regulations is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction:

  1. for a first offence, to a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding sixty days or to both;
  2. for a second offence, to a fine of not more than five thousand dollars, to imprisonment for a term of not more than one hundred and twenty days or to both; and
  3. for a third or subsequent offence,

In the case of a natural person, to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months or to both; and

In the case of a corporation, to a fine of not more than fifty thousand dollars.

Where a person is convicted under this Act or the regulations for an offence, in addition to a punishment pursuant to subsection (1), the court may, having regard to the nature of the offence and the circumstances surrounding its commission make an order having any or all of the following effects:

  1. prohibiting the offender from doing any act or engaging in any activity that may result in the continuation or repetition of the offence;
  2. directing the offender to take such action as the court considers appropriate to remedy or avoid any harm to a cave reserve that results or may result from the act or omission that constituted the offence;
  3. directing the offender to publish, in the manner prescribed, the facts relating to the conviction;
  4. directing the offender to notify, at the offender's own cost and in the manner prescribed, any person aggrieved or affected by the offender's conduct of the facts relating to the conviction;
  5. directing the offender to post a bond or pay money into court in an amount that will ensure compliance with any order made pursuant to this section;
  6. directing the offender to submit to the minister, on application made by the minister within three years after the date of conviction, information with respect to the activities of the offender that the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances;
  7. directing the offender to compensate the minister, in whole or in part, for the cost of any remedial or preventative action taken by or caused to be taken on behalf of the minister as a result of the act or omission that constituted the offence;
  8. requiring the offender to comply with such other reasonable conditions as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances for securing the offender's good conduct and for preventing the offender from repeating the offence or committing other offences.

10. The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations

  1. for the control or prohibition of any use, development or occupation of the land or natural resources in a cave reserve;
  2. for the control or prohibition of the dumping, deposit or emission within a cave reserve of any substance;
  3. for access to a cave reserve; and generally for any other matter or thing necessary or incidental to the protection of any cave or cave reserve.

11. Land designated as a cave reserve under this Act shall be under the jurisdiction of and administered by the minister.

Other Acts
12. This Act and the regulations apply to every cave reserve, notwithstanding any other Act or regulations.

Return to the "No Experts" Karst Resource Page