Archives for October 2011

We’re Reopening Caves

The SCCi Board of Directors recently voted to re-open nearly all of our caves with seasonal bat populations in May 2012.  We had closed these caves in 2009, when the cause of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), and mechanism by which it spread, were poorly understood.  At the time, WNS was over 1,000 miles away from our caves, and the board wanted to reduce the potential that a visitor to one of these caves could inadvertently cause a long-distance jump of WNS.  The SCCi acted before most state and federal agencies, demonstrating our leadership in cave conservation and management.

Since 2009, we have continued to monitor WNS developments, and we have also continued to analyze the best ways to protect both bats and caves in general.  Scientists now understand that bat-to-bat transmission is the primary mode by which WNS is migrating.  We also now know that the risk of inadvertent WNS transmission by humans can be dramatically reduced by following established protocols to clean and decontaminate caving gear and clothing.

WNS has now been found in central Tennessee, making it well within individual bat-flight range of all of our caves with seasonal bat populations, and eliminating our original concern about inadvertently facilitating a long-distance jump of WNS.  Also, over the past year, some our closed caves have been found to have been vandalized during the closure period, demonstrating the negative impact to caves and cave ecosystems that can occur when cavers stop having an active presence on our preserves.

When the caves re-open, visitors will be required to follow the current SCCi cave visitation policy, and will need to obtain permits and decontaminate their gear and clothing prior to visiting the caves.  The SCCi takes WNS and bat conservation very seriously, and will communicate additional information about access to specific caves in the coming months.

The SCCi Now Owns Tumbling Rock Cave

We’re pleased to announce that cavers now own the classic and caver-favorite Tumbling Rock Cave! The SCCi started leasing the cave in January, 2008 and purchased the cave in July, 2011. Tumbling Rock Inc., an Alabama non-profit corporation, manages the cave. This very special acquisition is the culmination of more than four years of extensive efforts by SCCi member Jay Clark and others. The cave is open for visitation primarily on weekends, from Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon. Access at other times may be possible by special arrangement. Send an email to tumblingrock@scci.org if you have any questions about visiting the cave.

We have several special fundraising opportunities for everyone to help us pay off this fabulous cave. First, you can “buy a piece of the cave.” We also have a new, unique fundraising program. We’re going to build a small patio near the cave entrance, and you can purchase a brick for $100 engraved with your name, your Grotto’s name, your scouting troop’s name, or anything you want! This will be a wonderful way to permanently mark your support of the Tumbling Rock purchase. Look for additional details about these programs soon.

In addition, one of the best things you can do to help the SCCi pay off this cave and purchase more caves is to sign up as a Sustaining Member by giving a set amount each month. As little as $10 or $15 a month really helps us buy even more caves. Plus, all sustaining members get into the cave for free!