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First Regular Session of the 120th

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:


§544-I. Short title

     This subchapter may be known and cited as the "Maine Cave Protection Act."

§544-J. Definitions

     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:

     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:

Effective September 21, 2001, unless otherwise indicated.

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