Bighorn NF – Tongue River Cave Cleanup Undone by Vandalism
Written by Andrew-Rossi on June 3, 2022
Efforts to preserve a popular Bighorn Basin cave and its wildlife for future generations are being hindered by destructive and persistent vandalism.
Currently, efforts to resume cleanup around the Tongue River Cave have been mobilizing and successful. But unfortunately, the effort is almost fruitless as progress made is quickly undone by vandalism.
In the last few weeks, vandals covered recently cleaned areas with fresh graffiti. The new graffiti will need to be removed along with the older paint. Law enforcement is investigating.
If anyone has information about the individuals that may have been involved in the Tongue River Cave vandalism, please get in touch with the Bighorn National Forest Sheridan office at 307-674-2600.
Tongue River Cave has long been enjoyed and sometimes abused by visitors. As a result, many U.S. Forest Service employees and volunteers have worked hard to clean up the popular area.
Beginning in 2018 through 2019, the U.S. Forest Service hosted 15 workdays, with nearly 70 individual volunteers participating. Over 370 volunteer hours were spent removing trash from the cave and scrubbing graffiti (mostly outside and within the cave entry.) Unfortunately, recent efforts were suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic.
People with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Hole-in-the-Wall and Northern Rocky Mountain Grottos associated with the National Speleological Society, and the Wyoming Wilderness Association were instrumental in planning and carrying out this endeavor.
Graffiti is not what visitors want or hope to see in natural areas. The removal is not only expensive, time-consuming, and very difficult, but it permanently alters the rock, and what is lost can never be replaced.
“Please be respectful of your public lands and remember we are not just sharing it but also with people that will visit in the future,” reads a U.S. Forest Service statement on the vandalism. “What are they going to think of us?”
Caves are fascinating and rare resources that require special management. They support critical groundwater systems and unique biological communities. They also provide information about climate change, human history, paleontological resources, and minerals.
The U.S. Forest Service manages caves and karst resources in keeping with the 1988 Federal Cave Resources Protection Act and following the agency’s multiple-use mission.
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Forest Supervisor’s Office and Tongue Ranger District at (307) 674-2600.
For tips on how you can do your part to recreate responsibly, visit
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