Southeastern Cave Conservancy Cancels Frick’s Cave Open House

The Board of the Southeastern Cave Conservancy regrets to inform our members that we have decided to cancel the Fricks Cave Open House scheduled for February 28. We made this decision due to our concern for the population of over 10,000 endangered Gray bats that depend on this cave. White Nose Syndrome, which has proven lethal to bat colonies where it has been identified, appears to have recently spread southward into Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Given the still-unknown transmission method of WNS and the large number of visitors from around the region that attend this event, the board determined that the most prudent action was cancellation. The SCCi takes the WNS threat seriously and continues to monitor the situation and take steps that are consistent with our goals of cave conservation and protection. To stay updated on developments, please check here regularly.

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 Advisory on White Nose Syndrome

In light of the emerging situation known as White Nose Syndrome affecting bats in a number of northeastern caves, the SCCi requests that all visitors to SCCi caves and preserves please thoroughly clean and inspect their clothing and caving equipment before and after visiting SCCi caves and preserves. While the causes, effects, and transmission mechanisms of the White Nose Syndrome are presently unknown, the estimated 95% mortality rate among affected bats mandates serious consideration and deep concern. Cavers should take all reasonable and necessary precautions to avoid carrying mud, water, or other substances from one cave to another.   Little brown bats with typical symptoms of White Nose Syndrome Credit: Nancy Heaslip, New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation Credit: Nancy Heaslip, New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation Here are some links about WNS and how to disinfect your caving gear:

 

 

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.