SCCi Buys Valhalla

On Friday, March 8, 2002, the Southeastern Cave Conservancy Inc. became the owner of Valhalla, a well-known and much-loved vertical cave in Jackson County, Alabama, USA. The purchase marks the successful completion of a two-year effort to acquire and re-open the cave.

With its beautiful 227-foot entrance pitch and over a mile of cave at the bottom, Valhalla is one of the finest pit caves in the southeastern United States. Following it’s discovery and exploration in the 1960’s, the cave was a popular destination for decades until it was closed in the early 90’s when irresponsible cavers wore out their welcome with the surrounding landowners.

The SCCi has purchased 125 acres including the cave entrance, and has secured access via the traditional route up Goshen Hollow. The $100,000 purchase was financed with a five-year $80,000 mortgage from a local bank. Valhalla is once again open to cavers, and with your help it will remain so forever.

While we now own the pit and part of the road leading to it, we do not own the entire access route. Further, the SCCi property is surrounded on all sides by extensive hunting club lands. Landowner relations will therefore be an important consideration in the management of the preserve.

We have established a good working relationship with the surrounding landowners and the hunting clubs that lease much of their property, and have obtained permission to cross their lands and to place an SCCi lock on the gate at the beginning of the road. Cooperation and respect for our neighbors will be critical in order to avoid problems in the future.

In the interest of maintaining good relations with our neighbors, we have decided to minimize visitation during deer and turkey hunting seasons. We don’t have to do this, but we feel that our friendship with the other landowners is worth it. We are also concerned for the safety of visitors to the preserve. Access during hunting season entails the risk of accidentally being shot. For these reasons, the Conservancy has adopted a management plan that restricts access during hunting seasons. We feel this is in everyone’s best interest.

Cavers wishing to visit the preserve must contact the property managers and provide advance notice of their visit. They will then be provided with the gate combination and access information. At least one member of the group must be an SCCi or NSS member. We are confident that cavers will understand and respect this policy.

The full management plan is available on the SCCi web site. If you have any questions about the cave or the access policy, you may contact the property managers at valhalla@scci.org.

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy is very pleased to be able to re-open one of TAG’s finest caves, and is counting on the support of the caving community to pay off the mortgage and ensure that Valhalla belongs to cavers forever. We are planning a “Buy a Piece of Valhalla” promotion to help pay off the mortgage, and a special Valhalla Purchase Fund is being established. Contributions are gratefully accepted.

Bill Putnam On Behalf of the Board of Directors Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. valhalla@scci.org