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!

 

Parking Area and Access Route for the Fox Mountain

There is a new parking area and access to the SCCi’s Fox Mtn. Preserve in Rising Fawn, Georgia, home to Rusty’s, Byers, Cemetery Pit, and other caves. We no longer have permission to park on the Rising Fawn Market (formerly Sue’s Market) property.

The SCCi has a new parking area and access for the Preserve. To get there, go 200 feet past the Market on Highway 11 South. Turn right into a clearing and go straight to a new gravel road. Please don’t go towards the trailer. Follow the gravel road to the parking area. The new trail is up the cleared hill and access es the old trail from the Market about 20′ from the fence ladder.

GPS co-ordinates: turn-off from Hwy 11 is N 34 44′ 56.2/W 085 32′ 11.2″ The actual parking area is N 34 44′ 58.9″/W 085 32′ 14.5″.
Also, anyone planning to visit the preserve should be advised that the south end of the preserve was drastically impacted by the tornadoes in April of this year. The main road up the mountain was partially obliterated and finding Rusty’s and Byers is difficult, even if you know the way. We have begun the arduous task of clearing the trails, but it will be a while (maybe years) before they are totally clear all the way to Byers. We will be organizing a trail-clearing day in November and will be asking for volunteers.

If you have any questions, please contact Jerry Wallace, Marty Abercrombie, or Brian Killingbeck. The trails to Cemetery Pit and the north end of the preserve are mostly clear.

Thanks,

Jerry Wallace

Fox Mt. Preserve Management Team

fox@scci.org

SCCi Creates Jacobs Mountain Preserve

The SCCi is excited to announce our newest lease acquisition, the Jacobs Mountain Preserve. Located in Jackson County, Alabama. Jacobs Mountain features 65 known caves that have been closed for many years. Eighteen of the caves are considered significant, including Paint Rock River Cave, Guess Cave, Norsemans Well, Torode Pit, Williams Saltpeter Cave, Halley’s Hole and many, many more.

SCCi Creates Long Island Cove Preserve

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi) has just opened to visitation Long Island Cove in Jackson County, Alabama. The Long Island Cove Preserve contains two notable pits, one significant horizontal cave, and seven other known caves; all of these caves have been closed for several years. Deep Well, at 292 feet, is the deepest open-air pit in the three-state caving region commonly referred to as TAG (Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia). Not-So-Deep Well, at 253 feet, is also an impressive pit. Long Island Saltpeter Cave, which contains over three miles of known passage, has been gated and essentially closed to visitation for over 15 years. Additional information about the Preserve, including the complete management plan, is on the Long Island Cove Preserve page of the SCCi web site.
At this time, the preserve will be open under a permit system, to SCCi members only. Permit applications may be obtained by contacting the Long Island Cove Preserve Management Committee.

Access to the Long Island Cove Preserve is through a yearly lease. Please help us continue to provide access to unique properties and classic caves like these by becoming an SCCi Sustaining Member.

While the SCCi has just opened several caves, it is important to note that the SCCi takes very seriously the bat affliction of White Nose Syndrome. The SCCi will continue in its efforts to protect and preserve not only bats but all flora and fauna in all of our caves. Through our new Cave Visitation Policy, the SCCi is promoting the concept of “clean caving” as a way of conserving our fragile cave ecosystems. Please refer to our Cave Visitation Policy for more information.