In light of multiple stay-at-home orders across the Southeast, SCCi has made the decision to suspend new permits through May 31st to our most visited preserves - Tumbling Rock and Stephens Gap.
These preserves have multiple congregating points and high visitation levels which make it difficult, if not impossible, to adhere to social distancing guidelines. There is additional concern of stressing rescue and healthcare resources should the need arise.
As this situation is fluid, SCCi will be making decisions as additional information and guidance is available.
Visitors arriving the John T. Dolberry Tumbling Rock Cave Preserve may notice a few infrastructure changes. After more than a decade of dedicated service as a resident preserve manager, Nathan Williams decided to relocate to family property in another county. Per Nathan, the location was too far away for him to remain an effective manager and subsequently has stepped down from those responsibilities. SCCi extends the greatest appreciation to Nathan for those years of tireless service. THANK YOU Nathan.
When visitors arrive they’ll immediately notice the absence of the house. With Nathan no longer the resident manager and little prospect of finding a new tenant, we determined the best path for the preserve management team going forward was the removal of the house. We accomplished this under the watchful eyes of Directors Steve Davis and Tom Whitehurst. We will place additional infrastructure at the preserve over the following months to assist with access control, primarily a code controlled gate system and then minor upgrades to the changing facility and additions to the existing interpretive display (kiosk).
Eventually, we will set up an internet hotspot and surveillance monitoring like at Stephens Gap Preserve. We anticipate making some small management changes to more easily accommodate camping at the preserve in the future but those guidelines or details haven’t been determined. Once we establish them, we will announce them here and through our website. We are still allowing camping at the traditional area behind the two-story building. Please use only this camping area. We have changed parking at the preserve as well. Vehicle parking is now on the right, adjacent to the mountain beyond the current kiosk. This change is mainly to allow grass to grow on the disturbed areas. Please do not park in taped off areas. We have relocated the port-o-let to the right side of the garage/changing rooms.
If you happen to see or communicate with Nathan, please THANK him for the years of dedication and service to SCCi at the Tumbling Rock Preserve.
Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi) strives to ensure the safety of all of its visitors and staff. As such, SCCi is closely monitoring the status of Coronavirus where we have preserves. Our staff is working remotely and we are recommending that when contemplating a visit to an SCCi preserve, people follow CDC, state, and local guidelines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidelines for those at higher risk of serious illness. Slowing the spread of novel coronavirus is everyone's responsibility.
Currently, our preserves remain open to permitted visitors. We urge visitors to engage in social distancing and keep group sizes to 10 or less. We will continue to keep you informed via social media and SCCi’s website if our current policy should change.
On November 23, 2019, a student from Purdue University fell while rappelling in the Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc.'s (SCCi) Valhalla Cave in Jackson County, Alabama. He was on a Purdue Outing Club trip that included other cave trips. The group had acquired the appropriate SCCi permit.
SCCi Board Chair, Kris Green, said "We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this young man."
SCCi's Valhalla Preserve was created in 2002. It is a 145-acre nature preserve that includes Valhalla Cave. The cave is accessed through a 227 foot entrance pit. This is the first fatality at the Valhalla Preserve since SCCi acquired it. SCCi is cooperating with local authorities in their investigation.
The Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi) announces that the Annual Science Awards program to help fund scientific and conservation research projects on SCCi preserves is now soliciting grant proposals for 2019-2020. As the nation’s largest and most successful land conservancy solely devoted to acquiring and protecting caves, SCCi understands that scientific research must be part of our mission. We firmly believe that research is essential to conserving cave and karst resources, and it is a foundation upon which good stewardship must depend.
We aim to have a well-rounded research program with focus mainly towards cave/karst topics in geology, geochemistry, hydrology, biology, environmental science, and archaeology. SCCi currently protects more than 170 caves on 31 preserves in 6 states. Any one or more of these caves and preserves would be worthy of different scientific investigations.
SCCi is now accepting grant proposals from non-profit caving groups, scientists, university/college faculty members, and undergraduate-graduate students for conducting research projects at SCCi properties beginning in the Fall of 2019. Funds can only be given to a not-for-profit organization or educational institution. For this year, funding is available to support as many as 3 grants of up to $1,500-$2,000 for (1) geology, geochemistry, or hydrology, (2) biology (zoology and botany) and (3) environmental/archaeological projects.
In your proposal, please provide the following information:
TITLE. Provide a concise and descriptive title in 15 words or less of the proposed research.
CONTACT INFORMATION. Provide your name, official mailing address, contact phone number, and email address.
BACKGROUND AND NEED. Describe in up to 1,500 words state the research problem which will be addressed wholly or in part by this research. Provide in up to 1,500 words relevant background information and discussion to (1) clearly identify the research problem that will be addressed wholly or in part by the proposed research; (2) provide a framework for the research and how it relates to other research; and (3) identify the relevance of the proposed research.
OBJECTIVE(S). Describe in up to 500 words the primary research question(s), hypothesis, predictions, and specific objectives of the proposed research. Objectives should focus on research outcomes.
EXPECTED RESULTS OR BENEFITS. Describe in up to 500 words the expected results and benefits of the proposed research. How will the research project benefit cave and karst resources owned and/or managed by SCCi? Please attempt to provide quantifiable or verifiable resource benefits. Also identify plans for how the results of the research will be disseminated.
APPROACH. Describe in up to 1,500 words how the research will be conducted. Include the major method(s) to be employed and the schedule (i.e., project timeline) to be followed. Please list any existing or pending permits and approvals necessary to conduct the research (e.g., state or federal scientific collecting permit). If you are an undergraduate or graduate student, please identify the research advisor at your institution.
LOCATION. Identify where the research will occur and include a list of SCCi preserves and caves where research may be conducted.
ESTIMATED COST AND BUDGET. Provide the total estimated cost for the research project and an itemized budget on how SCCi funding from this award would be applied. In addition, please provide a short justification for budget line item requested. If the total project budget is greater than the amount of SCCi funding requested, please include a list of other existing or potential sources of funding for the project.
LITERATURE CITED. Provide all relevant literature cited in the proposal.
Combining great bluegrass music, locally crafted brews from Chattanooga Brewing and amazing food from Parkway Pourhouse in a gorgeous outdoor setting, Bats, Beer & Bluegrass is one of the most unique events in the Southeast. Dinner is included with your ticket. Beer is available for purchase (over 21 years old of course). Purchase a VIP ticket and get a souvenir mug, poster and or complementary beer during the event.
This year we have two amazing bluegrass bands, No Time Flatt and The Tin Cup Rattlers. No Time Flatt is the 2017 and 2018 winner of the Tennessee Music Awards, "Bluegrass Band of the Year." The Tin Cup Rattlers are a husband and wife duo from Chattanooga who feature a rich bluegrass tradition.
Best of all will be the opportunity to experience all of this on a gorgeous nature preserve with the stunning entrance to Frick's Cave as the backdrop. The evening ends with a chance to witness the spectacular flight of the endangered gray bats from the cave.
Click here for more information and to buy your tickets 4th Annual Bats, Beer and Bluegrass
After a recent fatality at the Stephens Gap Preserve involving Philip Whitehead of Kentucky and Florida, SCCi has decided to temporarily close visitation to the preserve up to but no later than September 20. This is out of respect to the family and friends of Philip Whitehead, and to evaluate and discuss current visitation guidelines and/or develop new ones. The Board must also evaluate reports from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office and the Jackson County Coroner, as this death remains under investigation. The Board did not make this decision in haste or without much discussion and counsel. Should you have questions, please contact Ray Knott, Executive Director at 423-771-9671.
SCCi extends our condolences to the family of the man that fell to his death at the Stephens Gap-Callahan Preserve on 04/11/19. Cause for the fall in unknown.
Out of respect and to facilitate the investigation, we cancelled all permits for 04/12/19 and have suspended issuing new permits to the preserve until 4/20/19. The Jackson County Sheriff's department has released no details regarding the fatality as of this post.
SCCi was recently awarded a capacity building grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation. This grant funds 2 positions.
The first position is a Director of Outreach and Education. This person will be responsible for developing a robust education program that primarily targets K-12 classrooms. In addition to curriculum support, the position will develop and deliver talks focused on SCCi and wild cave conservation to community groups, preserve vistors, etc. Finally, the Director - Education and Outreach will have responsibility for working with our members and donors (under $500 annually). For more information and instructions on applying, read the position description - SCCi_Director_Education_and_Outreach.pdf
The second position is a Land Manager. This position is responsible for managing various aspects of preserve operations ranging from working with preserve visitors to managing small projects such as trail maintenance, kiosk building, signage, etc. This position will also work to kick-start an SCCi led trip program. Due to the nature of this position, the person will need to be skilled in both horizontal and vertical caving; have the physical ability to navigate rough terrain safely; and be willing to work outside in all four seasons. For more information and instructions on applying, read the position description - SCCi_Land_Manager.pdf
The Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. recently received a donation of more than 2,300 acres in Northwest Georgia from an anonymous donor, as well as additional acreage from the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, Inc. Together, the donated property constitutes most of the failed development called the Preserve at Rising Fawn, located at Johnsons Crook in Dade County, Georgia.
The property includes more than 30 known caves, stands of hardwood trees in a stunning landscape, and a diverse ecological environment supporting wildlife of all kinds. This donated land will be named the Charles B. Henson Preserve at Johnsons Crook, honoring the memory of Chuck Henson, a long-time caver and benefactor to the Conservancy. His recognition of the risks of development to the fragile systems of Johnsons
For over six years, Georgia-Alabama Land Trust worked to protect many parcels in the failed development as they became available, through the acquisition of land and through conservation easements. It now holds a permanent conservation easement on all of the land in the Henson Preserve. The Land Trust’s Johnson's Crook Project was accomplished through private and corporate donations, and support from foundations such as the Open Space Institute's Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund. Open Space Institute’s Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund is made possible with funding from the Lyndhurst Foundation and the Benwood Foundation. The Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund seeks to build capacity of land trusts working to protect ecologically significant landscapes in northwest Georgia.
“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that this project all came together,” said Katherine Eddins, Executive Director of Georgia-Alabama Land Trust. “The importance of preserving Johnson’s Crook first came to my attention fifteen years ago, and it has been gratifying to see land once slated for development preserved in its natural state.”
Crook and the opportunity for conservation began the efforts to protect the land and make the preserve a reality.
“The partnership with the Land Trust has made it possible for this natural resource to be protected and enjoyed forever by cavers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts,” said Ray Knott, Executive Director of SCCi. “The Conservancy wants the Henson Preserve to be an asset to Dade County and the North Georgia community.”
The Conservancy will work with community partners to develop a master plan for the Henson Preserve. “Conserving this amount of land comes with a lot of responsibility and cost. Stewardship, trails, and basic recreation structures can be costly. We will need the input and support of many partners to make the Henson Preserve a North Georgia destination,” stated Knott.
About Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi): SCCi is the world’s largest land conservancy solely dedicated to saving caves. SCCi protects more than 170 caves on 4,500 acres in six southeastern states. Founded in 1991, SCCi is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. To learn more about SCCi and wild cave conservation, visit www.SaveYourCaves.org.
About Georgia-Alabama Land Trust: The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, Inc. is a nonprofit conservation organization that actively works to protect and steward land. We are the largest land trust that services the Southeastern region of the United States. For more information on protecting land in Alabama and Georgia, visit www.GeorgiaAlabamaLandTrust.org.