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23may01

Contact Roger Scott at (505) 234-5553, Fax (505) 887-3051

CARLSBAD, N. M, May 21, 2003. - A research and educational collaboration that pools together the resources and expertise of state and local governments, federal agencies, and public universities has resulted in the establishment of a national research center in New Mexico which promises to take the lead in the study and management of caves and their related karst formations around the world.

The National Cave and Karst Research Institute was created by an Act of Congress in 1998 to further the research, education, and wise management of cave/karst formations throughout the United States and around the world. While the National Park Service (NPS) was designated as the lead agency for establishing the organization, the Institute will be a diverse entity comprised of a broad base of partners including the City of Carlsbad, and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech).

Louise D. Hose, the Institute's first permanent director, has an extensive background in speleology and cave exploration. She holds a Ph.D. in geology from Louisiana State University, an M.Sc. in geology from California State University, Los Angeles, and a Bachelor's in Secondary Education from Arizona State University. Dr. Hose left a 13-year career in higher education and academic research. Her work was sponsored by her academic institutions and organizations including the National Science Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, National Geographic Society, National Speleological Society, and two foreign resource management agencies. She served six years as a Director of the National Speleological Society and has edited their multi-disciplinary, refereed scientific publication for over seven years, the Journal of Cave and Karst Studies.

"Over the last year, a working group of several federal agencies with cave/karst expertise helped lay the groundwork for the Institute," explained Director Hose, "and although it is still in the development stage, much of the organizational structure has been defined and a multiyear planning effort is underway." A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate the development and management of the Institute has been signed by the NPS, the City of Carlsbad and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, who constitute the three primary partners involved in establishing the Institute.

The City of Carlsbad, State of New Mexico, and the NPS have provided the seed money and foundation on which to build the Institute. The enabling legislation called for the Institute's headquarters to be located in Carlsbad, New Mexico, an area renowned for its underground geologic formations. Funding has been secured for a building that will serve as visitor center, laboratory, library and offices for the Institute. Design work for the $4.6 million facility is underway and groundbreaking, on land donated by the City of Carlsbad, is planned for the late 2004.

The Institute currently has a professional three-person National Park Service staff (only one permanent) and is working on hiring another full-time (non-federal) person. There are also two full-time, partner (non-federal) scientists. An affiliated academic program at New Mexico Tech, one of the Institute's formal partners, is growing and will bring in several new Cave and Karst Studies graduate students next fall.

A Vision Workshop is being explored that would bring together many of the key potential partners who have a stake in the National Cave and Karst Research Institute. Through a facilitated process, the ideas, concerns and needs of all the involved parties would be addressed and shaped into platforms on which to build the institute.

"Our primary goals for the next two years," said Director Hose, "are the design and construction of the headquarters building, continued outreach to help us define our organizational structure and the Institute's vision, and the development of a five year plan. Achieving these goals will bring credibility and focus to the Institute and help us carry out our mission of furthering cave karst research, education and resource management," she said.

 

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(Roger Scott, 505.234.5553)