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