As used in this chapter, the following words shall have the meanings
stated unless the context requires otherwise:
(1) "Cave" means any naturally occurring void, cavity, recess, or
system of interconnecting passages beneath the surface of the earth
containing a black zone including natural subterranean water and
drainage systems, but not including any mine, tunnel, aqueduct, or
other man-made excavation, which is large enough to permit a person
to enter. The term "cave" includes or is synonymous with "cavern."
(2) "Commercial cave" means any cave utilized by the owner for the
purposes of exhibition to the general public, whether as a profit or
nonprofit enterprise, wherein a fee for entry is collected.
(3) "Gate" means any structure or device situated so as to limit or
prohibit access or entry to any cave.
(4) "Person" or "persons" means any individual, partnership, firm,
association, trust, or corporation or other legal entity.
(5) "Owner" means a person who owns title to land wherein a cave is
located, including a person who owns title to a leasehold estate in
the land and specifically including the Commonwealth and any of its
agencies, departments, boards, bureaus, commissions, or authorities
as well as counties, municipalities and other political subdivisions
of the Commonwealth.
(6) "Speleothem" means a natural mineral formation or deposit
occurring in a cave. This shall include or be synonymous with, but
not restricted to stalagmite, stalactite, helectite, shield,
anthodite, gypsum flower and needle, angel's hair, soda straw,
drapery, bacon, cave pearl, popcorn, coral, rimstone dam, column,
palette, flowstone, et cetera.
(7) "Speleogen" means an erosional feature of the cave boundary and
includes or is synonymous with, but not limited to anastomoses,
scallops, rills, flutes, spongework, boxwork, and pendants.
(8) "Material" means all or any part of any archaeological,
paleontological, biological, or historical item including, but not
limited to, any petroglyph, pictograph, basketry, human remains,
tool, beads, pottery, projectile point, remains of historical mining
activity or any other occupation, found in any cave.
(9) "Cave life" means any life form which normally occurs in, uses,
visits, or inhabits any cave or subterranean water system, excepting
those animals and species covered by any of the game laws of the
Commonwealth of Kentucky.
(10) "Troglobitic" means or refers to any form of cave life
specifically adapted to the cave environment and which carries out
its entire life cycle in the cave.
(11) "Troglophilic" means or refers to any form of cave life which,
although lacking specific biological adaptations necessary for
permanent residence in any cave, carries out at least a portion of
its life cycle in the cave.
433.873 Wrongful disturbance or damage to cave surfaces or
material found therein.
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person, without the express, prior,
written permission of the owner, to willfully and knowingly:
(a) 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 material which may be found
therein, notwithstanding whether such material is attached or
broken, including speleothems, speleogens, and sedimentary deposits.
The provisions of this section shall not prohibit minimal
disturbance for scientific exploration.
(b) Break, force, tamper with or otherwise disturb a door, lock,
gate, or other obstruction designed to control or prevent access to
any cave, even though entrance thereto may not be gained.
(c) Place any gate or other obstruction which may restrict the
movement of air or animals through such device.
(d) Deface, tamper with or remove a sign stating that a cave is
posted or citing provisions of this chapter.
(e) Excavate, remove, destroy, injure, deface, or in any other
manner disturb any burial grounds, historic or prehistoric
resources, archaeological or paleontological site or any part
thereof, including fossils, bones, relics, inscriptions, saltpeter
workings, remains of historical human activity, or any other such
features which may be found in any cave, except those caves owned by
the Commonwealth or designated as Commonwealth archaeological sites
or zones, and which are subject to the provisions of KRS 164.705 to
(2) The entering or remaining in a cave which has not been posted by
the owner shall not by itself constitute a violation of this
433.875 Unlawful dumping, disposal or burning within cave.
It shall be unlawful to store, dump, litter, dispose of or otherwise
place any refuse, garbage, dead animals, sewage, toxic substances
harmful to cave life or humans, or to store other such similar
materials in any quantity in any cave. It shall also be unlawful to
burn within a cave any material which produces any smoke or gas
which is harmful to any naturally occurring organisms in the cave,
except acetylene gas produced by carbide lamps.
433.877 Unlawful removal or disturbance of naturally
occurring organisms in cave.
(1) It shall be unlawful to remove, kill, harm, or otherwise disturb
any naturally occurring organism found within any cave, except for
safety or health reasons. Scientific collecting permits may be
obtained from the state nongame biologist.
(2) It shall also be unlawful to collect any form of troglobitic or
troglophilic cave life for commercial sale, whether or not a profit
is gained by such sale.
433.879 Excavation permits -- Requirements -- Supervision by
state archaeologist and Kentucky Heritage Council.
(1) In addition to the written permission of the owner required by
KRS 433.873(1), a person shall also obtain a permit from the state
archaeologist prior to excavating or removing any archaeological,
paleontological, prehistoric or historic feature of any cave. The
state archaeologist shall issue a permit to excavate or remove such
a feature if he finds that it is in the best interest of the
Commonwealth and that the applicant meets the criteria of this
section and is an historic, scientific or educational institution,
professional archaeologist or amateur who is qualified and
recognized in the areas of field investigations or archaeology. The
permit shall be issued for a period of two (2) years and may be
renewed upon expiration. The permit shall not be transferable;
however, the provisions of this section shall not preclude any
person from working under the direct supervision of the permittee.
(2) All field investigations, explorations or recovery operations
undertaken under this section shall be carried out under the general
supervision of the state archaeologist and the Kentucky Heritage
Council and in a manner to ensure that the maximum amount of
historic, scientific, archaeologic, and educational information may
be recovered and preserved in addition to the physical recovery of
(3) A person applying for a permit pursuant to this section shall:
(a) Have knowledge of archaeology, paleontology or history as
qualified in subsection (1) of this section;
(b) Provide a detailed statement to the state archaeologist giving
the reasons and objectives for excavation or removal and the
benefits expected to be obtained from the contemplated work;
(c) Provide data and results of any completed excavation, study, or
collection at the first of each calendar year;
(d) Obtain the prior written permission of the owner if the site of
the proposed excavation is on privately owned land; and
(e) Carry the permit while exercising the privileges granted.
433.881 Unlawful sale of speleothems.
It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or offer for sale any
speleothems in this Commonwealth, export them for sale outside the
Commonwealth, or import speleothems into the Commonwealth for sale.
433.883 Cave owner or his agent not to be held liable.
(1) Neither the owner of a cave nor his authorized agents acting
within the scope of their authority shall be liable for injuries
sustained by any person using the cave for recreational or
scientific purposes if no charge has been made for the use of the
cave, notwithstanding that an inquiry may have been made as to the
experience or expertise of the person or persons seeking consent.
(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed to constitute a
waiver of the sovereign immunity of the Commonwealth or any of its
boards, departments, bureaus or agencies.
(1) Any violation of KRS 433.873 to 433.877 or 433.879(1) shall be
punished as a Class A misdemeanor.
(2) Any violation of KRS 433.879(3) or 433.881 shall be punished as
a Class B misdemeanor.
Effective: July 15, 1988
History: Created 1988 Ky. Acts ch. 168, sec. 8, effective July 15,