Mark Your Calendars! December 13, the 2nd Annual Christmas Party

SCCi Tumbling Rock Preserve

Our property managers posing next to the beautiful Christmas Tree in Tumbling Rock. Photo by Nathan Williams & Sabrina Simon

Last year, the SCCi hosted our first annual Christmas Party at our Tumbling Rock preserve. It was a huge success and everyone had a great time–except it was really cold! We’re planning our 2nd annual Christmas party for Saturday, December 13. Mark your calendars! To make sure we all stay warmer this year, the party will be indoors at a venue probably in Chattanooga. This year, Steve Pitts and Jennifer Pinkley will give a presentation about the history and current status of Fern Cave, Alabama. We will also have another silent auction featuring caving related art.

We’re still working out the details and will let you know more soon!

Even though the party will not be held at the Tumbling Rock preserve, you can go caving in Tumbling Rock during the day, visit the decorated Christmas Tree, then head over in the afternoon for the party!



Call for Nominations: JV Van Swearingen IV Stewardship Award

John JV Van Swearingen IV Stewardship Award

JV Van Swearingen IV. Nominate cave stewards for the JV Van Swearingen IV Stewardship Award!

The SCCi, in cooperation with the Huntsville Grotto, is proud to announce that nominations are open for the John Van Swearingen IV Stewardship Award!

The award was conceived by the Huntsville Grotto in honor of long-time member, conservationist, cave steward, and SCCi Director, JV, who passed away in 2001. It is presented annually at the TAG Fall Cave In.

JV served for many years as the Fern Cave Access Coordinator, providing stewardship of the Fern Cave system and preserve for both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the SCCi.

The purpose of the award is to meaningfully recognize the stewardship efforts of an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization that has provided significant stewardship activities for one or more caves, cave preserves, or karst properties, personally conducted over an extended period of time.

The award, sponsored by the Huntsville Grotto and the SCCi, is also intended to promote long-term cave conservation and stewardship activities, and to encourage and thank those individuals and organizations who perform them.

We are accepting nominations until September 15, 2014. Please fill out the Award Nomination Form and return your nomination to the award committee at Please recognize deserving individuals or organizations! Feel free to re-post and/or print for your Grotto and fellow cavers. If you have any questions, please contact the committee at

Past winners of the JV Van Swearingen IV Stewardship Award:

2013: Chuck Henson, Rossville, GA
2012: Nathan Williams, Huntsville, AL
2011: SERA Karst Task Force (SKTF), TAG Region
2010: Tom Moltz, Byron, GA
2009: Jay Clark, Birmingham, AL
2008: Buddy Lane, Signal Mountain, TN
2007: Bill Overton, Pegram, TN
2006: Bill Birdsall, Ocala, FL
2005: Steve Pitts, Ardmore, TN
2004: Lonnie Carr, Sparta, TN
2003: Bruce Brewer, Tallahassee, FL
2002: William Oldacre, Gainesville, FL





New Access Information for Horse Skull/Jack’s Hole Preserve

Cavers may have heard that it’s been a challenge to access the Horse Skull/Jack’s Hole Cave Preserve lately due to lots of downed trees on the property and some issues with parking. Our great property manager Andy Zellner coordinated cutting and flagging a new trail that leads from the paved road, through the beaver swamp, across the power line cut, and through the woods. Details on the parking area are still being worked out, so please contact Andy Zellner at before you visit the cave to make sure you have the most up to date information. Cavers should not use the neighbor’s driveway at this time.

Jacks Hole Preserve

SCCi Leases Varnedoe Cave

The SCCi is pleased to announce a new lease agreement of Varnedoe Cave. This fine cave is located within the city limits of Huntsville, Alabama and is one of the more popular multi-drop caves in the southeast. Both entrances to Varnedoe Cave can be rigged all the way to the Fox Skeleton Room where the register is located. Entrance 1 has a pit series of 73’, 15’, 41’, 72’ and Entrance 2 has a pit series of 115’, 12’, and 69’ with the latter entrance route dropping near the waterfall in the Fox Skeleton Room. Beyond the Fox Skeleton Room are meandering passages that lead to tall dome complexes and a formation area. Access to Varnedoe Cave requires a permit. Contact the Varnedoe Cave Access Coordinator Julie Schenck Brown at at least three days before you would like to visit the cave.

Varnedoe Cave with Elliot Stahl and Joy Palmer (Photo by Alan Grosse)

Varnedoe Cave with Elliot Stahl and Joy Palmer (Photo by Alan Grosse)

SCCi Takes a Huge Step Forward in Expanding its Cave Acquisition Capacity

This month, the Southeastern Cave Conservancy has taken a huge step forward in our efforts to expand our cave acquisition capacity! As we have reported previously, in early 2013 the SCCi board of directors approved a strategic plan for 2013-2015. The strategic plan set an ambitious goal  – to double and eventually triple the number of caves that SCCi protects each year. In order to achieve that goal, the board recognized that SCCi must ramp up our game with respect to the plans, policies, and procedures that foundations and other major conservation donors expect, and also do a better job serving our growing membership. After much discussion, the board concluded that a key step in our ability to successfully implement the plan was to obtain professional administrative support services for SCCi. At our March 2014 board meeting, we welcomed Sage Morgan to fill this part-time contracted position.

We are confident that Sage has the right skills to help SCCi move forward with our strategic plan. Not only is she already assisting with SCCi’s day-to-day operations by doing things like dramatically improving our ability to keep current with the recurring credit-card donations from our nearly 500 sustaining members, she is also assisting each of SCCi’s volunteer-based committees in completing the many tasks that they are charged with as part of implementing our strategic plan.

Please join me and the SCCi board in welcoming Sage to SCCi. If you would like to contact her, she may be reached at

Ron Miller

The following is a message from Sage:

Hello! I would like to take a moment to express how honored I am to be a part of the growth of this truly grassroots organization. I am inspired by the ability of this “For Cavers, By Cavers” group of volunteers to drive this organization for the past 20+ years. I look forward to helping SCCi move to the next level. My virtual door is always open. Please feel free to call or email at any time. Thank you!