H.P. 439 - L.D. 560
An Act to Establish the Maine Cave Protection Act
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
Sec. 1. 12 MRSA c. 201-A, sub-c. I-A is enacted to read:
MAINE CAVE PROTECTION ACT
§544-I. Short title
This subchapter may be known and cited as the "Maine Cave Protection Act."
As used in this subchapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following words have the following meanings.
1. Cave. "Cave" means any naturally occurring void, cavity, recess, sinkhole or system of interconnecting passages beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge that is large enough to permit a person to enter. "Cave" includes natural subsurface water and drainage systems, but does not include any mine, tunnel or other artificial excavation.
2. Cave life. "Cave life" means any life-form normally found in a cave.
3. Natural material. "Natural material" means stalactite, stalagmite, helictite, anthodite, gypsum flower or needle, flowstone, drapery, column, tufa dam, clay or mud formation or concretion or other similar crystalline mineral formation found in any cave.
4. Owner. "Owner" means a person who owns title to land where a cave is located.
§544-K. Prior written consent of owner
A person must obtain the prior written permission of the owner to excavate or remove an archaeological, paleontological, prehistoric or historic feature of a cave.
§544-L. Field investigations, explorations and recovery operations
All field investigations, explorations and recovery operations in a cave must ensure that the ability to recover and preserve historic, scientific, archaeological and educational information is not impeded. The excavation or removal of an artifact, object, specimen or material from a cave on state-controlled land, as those terms are defined in Title 27, section 373-A, is subject to the provisions governing excavation and removal of state-owned objects and specimens under Title 27, chapter 13.
§544-M. Liability of owners
Recreational caving is a recreational or harvesting activity for the purposes of limited liability of landowners under Title 14, section 159-A.
§544-N. Prohibited acts
1. Defacing or damaging cave prohibited. A person may not deface or damage a cave. A person defaces or damages a cave if the person, without the prior written permission of the owner:
A. Breaks, breaks off, cracks, carves upon, writes or otherwise marks upon or in any manner destroys, mutilates, injures, defaces, removes, displaces, mars or harms any natural material found in a cave;
B. Kills, harms or disturbs plant or animal life found in a cave, except for safety reasons;
C. Disturbs or alters the natural condition of a cave or takes into a cave any aerosol or other container containing paints, dyes or other coloring agents;
D. Stores, dumps, litters, disposes of or otherwise places any refuse, garbage, dead animal, sewage or toxic substance harmful to cave life or humans in a cave;
E. Burns within a cave any material that produces smoke or gas that is harmful to any organism in the cave; or
F. Breaks, forces, tampers with, removes or otherwise disturbs a lock, gate, door, sign or other structure or obstruction designed to prevent entrance to a cave, whether or not entrance is gained.
2. Forfeiture. A person who violates the provisions of this subchapter commits a civil violation for which a forfeiture of up to $1,000 may be adjudged.
3. Damages may be collected by landowner. A person who intentionally defaces or damages a cave on private land in violation of subsection 1 is liable to the owner of that land for actual damages recoverable through a civil action.
Sec. 2. 14 MRSA §159-A, sub-§1, ¶B, as amended by PL 1995, c. 566, §1, is further amended to read:
B. "Recreational or harvesting activities" means recreational activities conducted out-of-doors, including, but not limited to, hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, environmental education and research, hiking, recreational caving, sight-seeing, operating snow-traveling and all-terrain vehicles, skiing, hang-gliding, dog sledding, equine activities, boating, sailing, canoeing, rafting, biking, picnicking, swimming or activities involving the harvesting or gathering of forest, field or marine products. It includes entry of, volunteer maintenance and improvement of, use of and passage over premises in order to pursue these activities. "Recreational or harvesting activities" does not include commercial agricultural or timber harvesting.
Effective September 21, 2001, unless otherwise indicated.
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