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December 17 Work Day at the SCCi Fox Mountain Preserve

The first of several planned work days to clear trails at the SCCi’s Fox Mountain Preserve is scheduled for Saturday, December 17th, beginning at 9 AM EST. This work day will focus on clearing the trail up to Rusty’s Cave, which received a direct hit from a tornado that came through the area in April 2011.

The staging area will be at the new SCCi Fox Mountain Preserve parking area.  For directions, see: http://scci.org/News/FoxMountainAccess.html. On-site parking will be extremely limited; please carpool if possible.  All volunteers will need to complete a liability release form when they arrive; forms will be available at the volunteer registration table in the parking area.

Please bring trail-clearing hand tools, including loppers, bow saws, pruners, pole saws, pole pruners, and clippers. Work gloves and safety glasses are strongly encouraged.

Please do not bring chainsaws for this work day. We currently have enough volunteers for chainsaw work. Our greatest need will be to clear smaller debris all the way up to Rusty’s. We’d like to have a nice, wide trail by the end of the day.

Please share this announcement with your Grotto remailers. Thanks!

Southeastern Cave Conservancy Acts to Protect Endangered Bat Populations in Caves

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy Inc, (SCCi) has taken precautionary action to help protect bats from White Nose Syndrome (WNS) by temporarily closing several SCCi caves. We are working closely with specialists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partner organizations to make sure we are aware of all current WNS information and to respond appropriately. We will reopen our caves as soon as the Board determines that it is safe to do so.

Little brown bats with typical symptoms of White Nose Syndrome Credit: Nancy Heaslip, New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation As of April 16, 2009 the following caves have been closed:

Anderson Cave and Fern Cave (Fern Sink Entrance and Surprise Pit) in Alabama; Fricks Cave in Georgia; Frenchman Knob Cave and Logsdon Cave in Kentucky; Gourdneck Cave, Hardins Cave, Holly Creek Cave, Rattling Cave, Sinking Cove Cave Preserve caves, Snail Shell Cave, South Pittsburg Pit, Swirl Canyon Cave and Wolf River Cave, in Tennessee; and Lobelia Saltpeter Cave in West Virginia. The SCCi has a unique history and expertise at successfully balancing conservation and access interests. The SCCi board believes that its highest responsibility is to exercise sound stewardship of our caves and karst lands. This is our duty to the members and donors. While we recognize and sincerely regret that these closures may inconvenience those who would like visit these caves, we are very concerned by the possibility that visitors could inadvertently introduce WNS to SCCi caves and the bats that rely on them for critical habitat.   The SCCi board will be reviewing and discussing these actions at our upcoming quarterly board meeting and annual members’ meeting, both of which will be held on May 16, 2009. All interested parties are invited to attend and share their views and questions.

Reasons for the SCCi’s actions include:

WNS is lethal to hibernating bats, with a near-100% mortality rate. The cause of WNS is poorly understood, and no method of protection or remediation is yet known. WNS is rapidly approaching the southeastern U.S., having recently been confirmed in Virginia and West Virginia. There is mounting evidence that visitors may be unintentionally contributing to the spread of WNS. The stakes are very high, the potential damage is incalculable, and the WNS situation is evolving rapidly. For information and updates on the latest developments regarding WNS and SCCi caves, please see our web site at www.scci.org. For more information on White Nose Syndrome, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service WNS page at www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose.html, or the National Speleological Society’s WNS page at www.caves.org/WNS/WNS Info.htm.

 

Southeastern Cave Conservancy Working to Lease Access Rights, Acquire Management of Caves

16 March 2001

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy has been asked by the owners and leaseholders of the Sinking Cove area to post the following announcement:

Effective February 24, 2001,the entire 16,000-acre Sinking Cove area has been closed to all users who do not have a current permit, including hunters, trail riders, ATV riders, cavers, hikers, etc.  The closed area includes all of Sinking Cove, Cave Cove, Farmer Cove, and Custard Hollow. The landowners have leased the property, which is more formally known as Carter Mountain Compartment 4, to a new management group, Deep South Outdoors (DSO).  The area will henceforth be open to permit holders only.

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy (SCCi) has been working with the owners and the new lease holders for some time as this situation developed in an effort to secure caver access to the caves and the campground. We have reached an agreement on the terms of a sub-lease of caving rights. It will cost SCCi several thousand dollars per year, but will give the Conservancy access and management authority for Sinking Cove Cave, Custard Hollow Cave, and other caves on the property. Until the agreement is signed and hunting season ends the area will remain closed to all caving and camping.

The SCCi is, in effect, purchasing a group permit for the caving community. Cavers will be the only user group with this kind of blanket access agreement. All other users will be paying individual permit fees ranging from $300 to $500 per year. This arrangement will provide cavers with continued access to the caves and campground area.

The agreement is a one-year probationary agreement, which will be extended to a longer term if we respect the rules and requirements of the leaseholders and owners. These are still under development, and will be embodied in a cave management plan administered by SCCi in cooperation with Deep South Outdoors. In order to track usage of the property, DSO has required certain procedures as part of the management plan, including the requirement that at least one member of any caver group on the property be a card-carrying SCCi member.

Access will be limited to non-hunting seasons, with  a 2-week “quiet time” buffer before the season begins. Advance notice will be required, either through SCCi or a toll-free notification line. Vehicle access will be limited to the campground and possibly to the Custard Hollow Cave parking spot. Special arrangements will be required for grotto camp-outs and similar events, and will be handled through SCCi.

The area will remain closed to caving, hiking, and camping until after the close of Turkey season in May. By that time, the cave management plan and procedures will be completed and published, and all caver access will be managed through the Conservancy.

Deep South Outdoors is giving us a very flexible and reasonable arrangement, with very favorable terms. In return, they expect cavers to be their partners in taking care of the property. We will be expected to help out by keeping the property clean, respecting the wildlife and the land, and reporting unauthorized users and vandals. All permitted user groups will be expected to do this and to help with property maintenance on an annual work day or weekend.

Our agreement is contingent on cavers respecting the rules, becoming part of the team, and helping the owners and leaseholders maintain and protect the property. If we fail to live up to their expectations the lease will be terminated or not renewed. SCCi is investing a substantial amount of money in this lease, and will be depending on the good will and support of all cavers to ensure the success of this arrangement. Please be very aware that this is a probationary agreement. DSO is allowing non-hunting usage of the property for the first year. If everything works out well our agreement will be extended to a longer term. If there are problems, we may lose access permanently.

Following this announcement you will find letters from the Carter Family and from Mitch Green of Deep South Outdoors which will help you understand the reasons for this new arrangement as well as DSO’s plans and intentions for the property. Please read it carefully.

Anyone with questions can contact Buddy Lane (blane@scci.org) or John Van Swearingen (jvswearingen@scci.org) , who will be the primary contacts for the SCCi Sinking Cove property management committee.

You are welcome to reproduce and publish this announcement and the accompanying letters in grotto newsletters and similar publications.

Bill Putnam Director, Southeastern Cave Conservancy On behalf of Deep South Outdoors, the Carter Family, and the Southeastern Cave Conservancy putnam@scci.org

To whom it may concern,

We, the owners of Compartment 4, have decided to lease our land to one individual, Mitch Green. He is in a position to run a more efficient hunt, and manage the land better than in the past. We appreciate your interest in leasing a portion of the land, but finally, we decided that having one person oversee the land would be the best course.

Mr. Green also intends to organize recreational use of the land during off-hunt times to help with the growing expenses of taxes, road repair, litter pickup, and feedplot costs, etc. He is dedicated to making this area a much better hunting area by adding feedplots and restricting access to the area through the use of gates, video cameras, and personnel among other things.

If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Green for hunt information or concerning recreational use. Ray Evans will no longer be working in this capacity, so please direct all calls about Compartment 4 to Mr. Green.

Thank you very much,

The Carter Family


New friends and neighbors,

It has taken some time, but I’m finally able to get some information out to all of you about our plans for the 16,000+ acres of Compartment 4. I have had the pleasure of speaking with many of you on the phone and in person over the past few weeks. I really appreciate the warm welcome and enthusiasm for our plans.

We publish hunting, fishing and football magazines. The plan is quite simple. We plan to manage Compartment 4 for deer and turkey so that we can do television shows to support our magazines. At the same time we will try to allow as many folks in the community to have access to the property as our management plan will allow. The property will be managed under the name Deep South Outdoors (DSO). Our television show by the same name will appear soon on the Outdoor Channel.

The notices that were posted around the property were changed to no-trespassing signs the weekend of February 24th, 2001. My staff will have a list of folks who have been given permission to travel the main gravel road but do not have a permit. Even if you think you are already on this list, please contact me again and verify this the case. I’m asking that everyone have a permit or permission before entering Compartment 4 as of February 24th, 2001.

I have leased the caves to the Southeastern Cave Conservancy. Please do not enter any cave in Compartment 4 without a permit from both the conservancy and DSO. I have also made a deal for the rights to ride the existing dirt bike trails, with the provision that 10 miles of the trails be moved to better accommodate our hunting management plans.

I am always interested and available for talking over any special circumstances or ideas you may have.

I look forward to meeting and working with everyone,

Mitch Green Deep South Outdoors