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 varnedoe@scci.org 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)

Southeastern Cave Conservancy End Lease of Long Island Cove

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy recently decided to end our lease of Long Island Cove. We’re really glad our members could enjoy the wonderful caves in the cove for the past two years, but we felt that the money we would spend on an additional year’s lease would be better spent in other ways. In addition, visits to the preserve significantly decreased in 2011, indicating that our members who wanted to visit the caves had done so, and were not likely to continue to visit the caves year after year. We would like to thank Tracy Wooden for generously allowing cavers to visit the fine caves on his property for the past two years.

We are very serious about managing your donations effectively and making sure that the SCCi continues to be able to acquire and lease caves we can all enjoy for generations to come.  As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us! Thank you very much for your continuing support!

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.

SCCi Leases Tumbling Rock Cave

The SCCi is pleased to announce the acquisition of Tumbling Rock Cave, Alabama, by means of a lease/purchase agreement. Management of the preserve is handled by Tumbling Rock Inc., an Alabama non-profit corporation, and began on January 1, 2008.

This very special acquisition is the culmination of more than two 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.

We hope you can appreciate that this particular acquisition involves some very substantial expenses for the Conservancy. Expenses for the first year are expected to be more than $20,000. The present owners have charged a small fee for many years. Our lease and purchase is not free, and we have other expenses of operation in addition to the monthly lease/purchase payment. We will therefore need to request a small donation from each visitor in order to offset some of the expense required to obtain and manage the cave.

Beginning January 1, visitors will be asked to make a donation to help defray the expenses of managing Tumbling Rock Cave. Regular members of the SCCi will be asked to make a $7 donation. Non-members age 18 and over will be asked to make a $10 donation. Visitors under the age of 18 will be asked for a $5 donation, however they must be accompanied by an adult. SCCi Sustaining Members will not be asked to make a donation, as they already donate to the SCCi each month, and the SCCi uses a portion of those donated funds to support the Tumbling Rock Cave Preserve.

Donations are, of course, optional, but we hope that all visitors will be mindful of the substantial expense of making the cave available for your enjoyment and will want to support that effort.

Membership in the SCCi is open to all persons interested in Southeastern caves and caving. See the membership page for more information on becoming an SCCi member.

Visitors entering the cave will be expected to have appropriate caving equipment (helmet, boots, and headlamp) and to follow standard cave safety and conservation practices as promoted by the National Speleological Society.

Managing Tumbling Rock will be a big project, and we are already in need of volunteers to serve as weekend preserve managers. We are seeking volunteers for weekend duty at the cave, and these volunteers will be able to stay at the house by the cave for the weekend. There are no plans at this time for guided trips, cave guides, or other similar activities. There will be very few changes at first, with the most noticeable being the requirement that visitors have appropriate caving safety equipment.

The overall preserve manager is Jay Clark, who reports directly to the Board of Directors of the non-profit corporation running the preserve. Jay is actively soliciting cavers to serve with him as volunteer weekend preserve managers. If you are interested, please contact Jay by email at tumblingrock@scci.org Any suggestions that you have concerning management of the preserve will also be appreciated and considered.

It is important that we project a very favorable impression to the landowners and local community. Too many caving areas have been closed to the all of us because of abuse by cavers or other visitors. We do not want that to occur here. In order to ensure that things go well and our lease progresses into the purchase phase, so that we may obtain full ownership of the property, it is important that visitors continue to observe a few common sense rules, such as:

  • When visiting the preserve, please do not change clothes in public. Changing area are available and must be used.

  • No using the bathroom in the cave, or at any place other than the facilities we have provided outside.

  • Please do not consume any alcoholic beverage or drugs of any type in the cave or on the preserve.

  • Please respect and be considerate of our neighbors, other visitors, and the cave environment by refraining from littering, touching artifacts, damaging formations, molesting wildlife, or otherwise disturbing the peace and serenity of the cave and the preserve.

We hope that all of you are as excited about this acquisition as we have been. Please help us with developing the preserve by continuing to support the Conservancy, by volunteering to help on the preserve and by helping us work toward full ownership of the property.

The SCCi extends special thanks to Nathan Williams for his superb photographs, which he allowed us to use at TAG, and to Pat Kambesis for allowing us to use a scaled-down version of her very fine map of Tumbling Rock on the Tumbling Rock Cave T-shirts.

If you have any questions regarding Tumbling Rock Cave, you may contact us at tumblingrock@scci.org.

In addition to making a contribution to support the Tumbling Rock acquisition, please consider joining the SCCi as a Sustaining Member, and helping to pay for the caves we all love and enjoy.  For as little as $10 a month you can be a cave owner.

On behalf of the directors, we thank all of you for your continued confidence and support of our so very important mission.

Jay Clark, Tumbling Rock Cave Preserve Manager Bill Putnam, Director and Acquisitions Chairman