NORTH CAROLINA CAVE LAW
GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA 1987 SESSION RATIFIED BILL
CHAPTER 449 HOUSE BILL 1061
AN ACT TO PROTECT CAVES.
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
Section 1. Chapter 14 of the General Statutes of North Carolina is
amended by adding a new Article to read:
Caves Protection Act.
The terms listed below have the following definitions as used in
this Article, unless the context clearly requires a different
(1) 'Cave' means any naturally occurring subterranean cavity. The
word 'cave' includes or is synonymous with cavern, pit, well,
sinkhole, and grotto;
(2) 'Commercial cave' means any cave with improved trails and
lighting utilized by the owner for the purpose of exhibition to the
general public as a profit or nonprofit enterprise, wherein a fee is
collected for entry;
(3) 'Gate' means any structure of device located to limit or
prohibit access or entry to any cave;
(4) 'Person' means any individual, partnership, firm, association,
trust or corporation;
(5) 'Speleothem' means a natural mineral formation or deposit
occurring in a cave. This includes or is synonymous with
stalagmites, stalactites, helectites, anthodites, gypsum flowers,
needles, angel's hair, soda straw, draperies, bacon, cave pearls,
popcorn (coral), rimstone dams, columns, palettes, and flowstone.
Speleothems are commonly composed of calcite, epsomite, gypsum,
aragonite, celestite and other similar minerals; and
(6) 'Owner' means a person who has title to land where a cave is
located, including a person who owns title to a leasehold estate in
14-159.21. Vandalism; penalties.
It is unlawful for any person, without express, prior, written
permission of the owner, to willfully or knowingly:
(1) 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 natural material therein,
(2) Disturb or later in any manner the natural condition of any
(3) Break, force, tamper with or otherwise disturb a lock, gate,
door or other obstruction designed to control or prevent access to
Any person violating a provision of this section shall be guilty of
a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred
fifty dollars ($150.00) or more than five hundred dollars ($500.00),
imprisonment for not less than 10 days or more than six months, or
14-159.23. Limitation of liability of owners and agents.
The owner of a cave, and his agents and employees, shall not be
liable for any injury to, or for the death of unless it is
established that the injury, death, loss, or damage occurred as a
result of gross negligence, wanton conduct, or intentional
wrongdoing. The limitation of liability provided by this section
applies only with respect to injury, death, loss, or damage
occurring with in a cave, or in connection with entry into or exit
from a cave, and applies only with respect to persons to whom no
charge has been made for admission to the cave." Sec. 2.
This act shall become effective October 1, 1987, and shall apply to
offenses occurring on and after that date. In the General Assembly
read three times and ratified this the 23rd day of June, 1987.