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Karst on Federal Lands
The distribution of karst throughout the United States is influenced by the distribution of soluble rocks, and a variety of local or regional geologic, hydrologic, and climatic conditions. Karst or features similar to karst in non-soluble rock settings make up about 21 percent of the lower 48 States and 18 percent of all 50 States.
About 26 percent (more than 950,000 square miles) of the United States is Federal land, and 16 percent of that is underlain by karst. These lands are administered by the Department of the Interior agencies: National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Caves and karst features occur in 126 parks in all regions of the National Park system. Of these 126 parks, 81 contain caves and an additional 45 have other karst features. Over 3,900 caves are currently known throughout the system.
The Bureau of Land Management administers 264 million acres of America's public lands located primarily in 12 Western States, and has identified over 600 caves in all the states.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System with more than 530 individual refuges, wetlands, and special management areas. FWS operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices, and 78 ecological services field stations. Sixty-two caves or cave-like structures have been identified, ranging in location and type from a sea cave on the coast of Maine to wind caves in Arizona to solution caves in Alaska.
The U.S.D.A. Forest Service manages public lands in national forests and grasslands encompassing more than 232 million acres in 291 land units, and has inventoried over 4,700 caves in 96 National Forests.
Karst in Federal Lands
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