Southeastern Cave Conservancy Acquires the Fern Sink Entrance of Fern Cave

On October 10, 2008, SCCi Chairman Brian Krebs announced that the Conservancy has signed a contract to purchase 80 acres in Jackson County, Alabama overlying a large portion of Fern Cave and including the Fern Sink Entrance and Surprise Pit. The preserve is a privately owned tract adjoining the federally-owned Fern Cave National Wildlife Refuge . All other entrances of the cave are located on the federal land. Since 1997, the SCCi has managed the Fern Sink entrance and Surprise Pit under a lease agreement with the owner. When the opportunity arose this summer, the Conservancy was able to convert our long-term relationship with the property into permanent ownership and protection. You can help support permanent protection of Fern Cave by becoming an SCCi member and donating to help with the acquisition costs.  SCCi Sustaining Membership is the best way to support the acquisition and protection of Fern Cave and other southeastern caves.

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

 

SCCi Leases Anderson Cave in Birmingham

The Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) voted to enter the Anderson Cave Preserve Cooperative Management Agreement with Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SSCi) to reduce unauthorized entry and potential liability of caves within its watershed. SSCi will study and help to protect the endangered species that may be present.

The SSCi is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to cave conservation and preservation, caver education and cave management. Formed in 1991, its purpose is to acquire and manage caves for scientific study, education for those interested in speleology and conservation of these resources. A focus is also placed on the presence of endangered plants or animals, significant geological and hydrological features, wilderness quality, threats from development or exploitation and access issues.

Hollow Ridge Cave in Florida Donated to the SCCi

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. is pleased to announce that Hollow Ridge Cave, Jackson County, Florida, was donated to the SCCi on January 27, 2006. The Hollow Ridge Cave Preserve includes the cave entrances and approximately 5 acres of land overlying the cave. This donation is the culmination of more than three years of work by cave owner Allen Mosler and SCCi Director Mark Wolinsky. This acquisition is the SCCi’s 23rd preserve and its 53rd cave!

Hollow Ridge Cave is a few miles northeast of Marianna, Florida, in a small hill that rises about 40 feet above the Chipola River flood plain. The cave has four entrances and a surveyed length of 3,370 feet, making it one of the larger caves in the area. It is formed at the contact between the Marianna Limestone and the Bumpnose member of the underlying Crystal River Limestone. The cave’s passages are a mixture of narrow fissures and muddy bedding plane crawls connecting several rooms. Many formations are found throughout the cave. The lower levers are subjected to frequent flooding.

When the property containing Hollow Ridge Cave was subdivided some years ago, SCCi member Allen Mosler decided to buy the cave. He did so by purchasing three lots overlying its passages. Since that time, Mosler has acted as steward and protector of the cave – a role which he will continue as manager of the SCCi Hollow Ridge Cave Preserve.

The surface areas of the preserve are wooded, with abundant growth of pine, cedar, hickory, and other trees typical to the region. A small, grassy clearing at the top of the hill serves as a parking area for visitors. Near the back of the preserve there is a small quarry, long abandoned and now overgrown with cedars, ferns, and oak-leaf hydrangeas. The Chipola river lies about 1,500 feet to the west and is fed by many springs in the area. The parking area is reached by a short dirt road and driveway.

The cave management plan is similar to that used at most other SCCi preserves, and is posted on the SCCi web site. The property manager is Allen Mosler of Havana, Florida. When visiting the preserve, please park in the designated parking area on the SCCi property.

Visitors are warned that during or following heavy rains the cave may flood. The SCCi recommends that cavers not enter the cave when rain is expected. Flooding can occur very quickly and with little or no warning!

The donation of the property was complicated by overlapping boundary lines and related title issues. Resolution of these issues took more than three years of work by Mosler and Wolinsky before a proper boundary survey and deed description could be obtained. Their persistence and dedication made possible the permanent protection of this fine cave.

William O. Putnam, Director and Acquisitions Chairman Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. putnam@scci.org www.scci.org

Southeastern Cave Conservancy Buys South Pittsburg Pit; Purchase is our 22nd acquisition

September 20, 2005 — South Pittsburg, Tennessee

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy is pleased to announce that it has completed the purchase of South Pittsburg Pit, located in the city of South Pittsburg in Marion County, Tennessee. The cave has a beautiful 160-foot entrance pit and more than 2,200 feet of surveyed passage, and has been a popular destination for cavers since its initial exploration by Chattanooga Grotto members in February 1964.

In 1997, the Conservancy leased the rights to the cave and one acre of surrounding land. For seven years, the SCCi managed access and kept the cave open for visitation. In 2004, the lease expired, and the owner chose not to renew it. Instead, the 1,900-acre property containing the cave was listed for sale. Since that time, the SCCi has been working to purchase the cave and a reasonable buffer of land around it.

Early in 2005, the property containing the cave was sold to a developer. SCCi representatives contacted the new owner and made a proposal to purchase the cave and some of the land around it. Many months of negotiation followed.  On August 15, 2005, a sales contract was signed between the new owner and the SCCi. Closing of the sale occurred on September 20.

The South Pittsburg Pit Preserve includes the pit entrance and ten acres overlying the cave passages, as well as easements for access to and from the preserve. The seller has also donated an additional ten acres to serve as a buffer against future development in the area. Access to the twenty-acre preserve is available via the established trail which begins behind the water tank above Lloyd Park in South Pittsburg.

The purchase is being financed by a 10-year, $40,000 mortgage. Donations to support the purchase and help pay off the mortgage are welcome. Contributions may be made by check or credit card, and may be mailed to SCCi, PO Box PO Box 71857, Chattanooga TN 37407-0857. Contributions are tax-deductible in accordance with IRS rules for section 501(c)(3) charitable organizations.

The South Pittsburg Pit Preserve is the SCCi’s 22nd cave preserve. The SCCi owns or leases 51 other caves, and this purchase increases its holdings to 1,169 acres of cave and karst lands in six states.

Questions regarding this announcement may be directed to SCCi Acquisitions Chairman Bill Putnam, bputnam@scci.org or SCCi Chairman John Hickman, jhickman@scci.org.