The New Frontier: A World Beneath Us - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

The New Frontier: A World Beneath Us

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In this month’s installment of “The New Frontier,” we head below ground to explore the largely unknown world of Caving, and how one group is changing the face of the caverns beneath us.

"I guess there's some sentimental value to the cave… this was the first cave I ever went to,” says Taylor Woods, Event Coordinator with the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto. As he sits on a large rock in what’s known as the “cathedral” of Lick Creek Cave, just south of Great Falls, he discusses what inspired him to join the Grotto. “I think about 6ish years ago, give or take. And the first time I was in here it was just devastated with garbage, debris, graffiti."

Woods has since made it his mission to make Lick Creek Cave beautiful again.

And what began three years ago as a group of people picking up trash, has morphed into a weekend-long event with help from the Forest Service, USDA, and a number of private companies throughout Montana.

"I come here once a year to do this, I haven't seen the amount of trash increase or go back to what it was starting these projects,” says Woods. “Like today I didn't really see any trash at all."

Graffiti is now one of the biggest concerns, and that cleanup gets tricky, because not all of it was done by bored teenagers looking for something to do.

For example, there’s some graffiti that can’t be removed because it is actually scientists and biologists who went into the cave way back in the day and marked their names, so they could keep track of who was where and when.

And of course, there are other cave dwellers to be aware of…

"...caves are their own ecosystem; we have a bunch of bats above us right now. We try to take very good care of the bats."

But despite all the work he's doing, Woods doesn't seem to think he's changing the world; he's just doing what's right.

I asked him while touring Lick Creek Cave if he feels a responsibility to clean up, as a member of the Grotto.

Woods replied, “Personally, not so much. I just like doing it and it's just to me just a good practice to pick up after yourself, not litter, and just keep things as pristine as you can."

And while the world may be in chaos above ground, the NRMG is focusing on teamwork below us.

"It's the ability of people to dig deep, and do the stuff they said they were gonna do and really go above and beyond that so we really have a great team."

With the hope that one day, that hard work will pay off when they come to the surface.

Moving forward, the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto is gearing up for next year's annual national convention, which will be taking place in Helena. For more information, visit their website.

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