The Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi), the largest land conservancy in the world solely focused on protecting wild caves, recently announced the award of two grants through its annual Science Award Program. Scientific research is an integral part of SCCi’s work. It is essential to conserving cave and karst resources.

"Buying caves to preserve and protect them is a noble endeavor. It is what SCCi is known for.” Says Dr. George Veni, Executive Director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute and President, International Union of Speleology. “But effective preservation and protection is often impossible without good scientific research to identify needs and best management practices. SCCi's Science Awards Program helps assure their caves are sustainably managed, and supports both established and young scientists' focus on much needed cave and karst research."

This year’s science award recipients are:

(1) Drs. Cathy Borer and Angela Poole, of the Department of Biology, Berry College in Rome, Georgia for “Molecular identification of plant roots” to be conducted at Howard’s Waterfall Cave Preserve, Georgia.  The researchers will develop and test molecular techniques needed to identify plant species of roots that are exposed in cave walls and ceilings.  The researchers note that root physiological studies done at the land surface are difficult to conduct without damaging roots and influencing their physiological processes while exposing them for study.  However, roots exposed in caves allow for easy access to plant roots for study and most importantly they can be sampled with minimal damage to the root system for analyses. In order to properly study root physiology, the plant species must be identified first.  Thus, this study will develop and test molecular techniques to identify the plant species from root samples. The SCCi has awarded $1,500 to support this important research.

(2) Joe Lamb and Dr. Yong Wang, of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama, for "Abiotic factors influencing cave use by salamanders in northern Alabama.”  This study forms part of Joe Lamb’s M.S. thesis.  The researchers note that cave salamanders have strict environmental tolerances (temperature, humidity), and that their abundance and diversity are an indicator of the health of a cave environment and perhaps the ecosystem health of forest systems surrounding caves.  Joe and Dr. Wang will determine salamander abundance, density, and diversity in the near-surface parts of Tumbling Rock Cave Preserve in Alabama.  The SCCi has awarded $1,500 to support this important research.

For more information about our science mission and to inquire about submitting science proposals for next year, please contact SCCi Chief Scientist, Dr. Matthew Niemiller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

office

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi), the largest land conservancy in the world solely focused on protecting wild caves, recently moved into its new office space at 2213 Fairmount Pike, Signal Mountain, TN.

The new office will allow SCCi to grow its staff and volunteer base is as it continues to acquire and protect more caves. "Our growth plans reflect 27 years of progress," says Ray Knott, Executive Director of SCCi. "Since SCCi started in a living room in Atlanta, we've come a long way in protecting more than 170 caves that span the Southeast US. But stewardship of these underground treasures is never-ending, and we need fresh ideas and more allies. With this new space, we'll be able to better foster collaboration with our donors, members, and conservation partners."

SCCi's work is vital to the effort of environmental conservation. "The Southeastern US is home to some of the most beautiful and scientifically significant caves in North America. But sadly, many of them are under threat of destruction from development or misuse. So we work to protect and preserve these caves for you, for future generations, and for the hundreds of endangered species that call them home," Knott said.

About Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc.
Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. protects and preserves caves through conservation, education, and recreation. When caves are safeguarded, fragile ecosystems are protected, historic artifacts are preserved, and endangered species thrive. SCCi is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. Visit SaveYourCaves.org for more information.

At approximately 7:30 pm (Central) on Saturday February 10th, Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit was dispatched to SCCi’s Tumbling Rock Cave Preserve. A visitor hurt his knee on the Wildcat Rock Pile. At approximately 11:00 pm (Central), the visitor was carried out by the Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit.
Special thanks to SCCi Board Members Patty Springer and Steve Davis and SCCi Preserve Manager Nathan Williams for their onsite assistance.
Incidents like this are a reminder that visiting wild caves come with inherent dangers. Accidents can and do happen. To learn more about recreational caving, visit a local Grotto (Chapter) of the National Speleological Society at www.Caves.org.

John JV Van Swearingen IV Stewardship AwardJV Van Swearingen IV. Nominate cave stewards for the JV Van Swearingen IV Stewardship Award!

SCCi, in cooperation with the Huntsville Grotto, is proud to announce that nominations are open for the 2017 John Van Swearingen IV Stewardship Award! The award was conceived by the Huntsville Grotto in honor of long-time member, conservationist, cave steward, and SCCi Director, JV, who passed away in 2001. It is presented annually at the TAG Fall Cave In.

The location of the 08/26/17 Board Meeting has been moved to:
7727 Harrier Hill
Signal Mountain TN 37377
The open session begins at 1:00 pm Eastern time.
Click here to view the August 2017 Edition of Bounce.

NSS LogoThe following basic safety information is provided with permission from the National Speleological Society. To learn more about caving or find a local grotto (chapter) of the National Speleological Society visit www.caves.org. While you are there, become a member!

Basic Safety Information

There are several versions of cave safety guidelines. Having adequate training and reliable equipment are the main points in each one. Safe use of equipment can be achieved only by sharing information, teaching and demonstrations. Chances of being injured are reduced by awareness of dangers and by knowledge of your equipment and techniques.

Statistically, caving accidents are mostly attributed to poor judgment, little or no caving experience and falls. The most common causes of caving accidents include: falling, being struck by falling objects and hypothermia.

Falling: To reduce the risk of falling, one should avoid jumping and uncontrolled sliding down slopes, wear proper footwear, check and discard any faulty or worn vertical equipment and obtain proper training. When caving, you should always try to have three points of contact when moving over uneven ground. This means having three points on your body supported on immovable objects to stabilize your body while moving through difficult areas.

Falling Objects: Injury caused by falling objects are best avoided by always wearing a helmet. It is best to stay clear of the base of drops and climbs. Secure all items of equipment so that they will not drop on cavers below you. Remember to always yell "ROCK!" for all falling objects, even if it's your water bottle. Saying "WATER!" will take too much time for the person to think when a second of reaction time is all they have.

Hypothermia: If the temperature drops more than a few degrees, the body can no longer function properly. Dress appropriately for the weather and carry extra clothing or something that can protect you from the cold. The first signs of hypothermia are fatigue, drowsiness, exhaustion, unwillingness to go on, feeling cold, poor coordination and stumbling.

Other Hazards: Not all caving problems involve injuries. A few people do get lost in caves, become stuck or are unable to climb up a ledge or rope to get out of the cave. Exhaustion and a lack of light (or light failure) may cause someone to become lost who might otherwise have found their way out of the cave.

A Closer Look Into Safety

As you plan to go on a cave trip, there are several things you should include in your pre-trip planning. Proper preparation will help you have a safe trip and will give some amount of protection against the many dangers of being under ground.

The mere fact that you are interested in caving implies that you are probably comfortable with some level of risk and are somewhat comfortable with the unknown. These are good things, but a person preparing for a cave trip considers the risks, tries to anticipate the problems and thinks about the unknowns. No one wants to have a problem while we are under ground, but we should never go into the cave without at least taking a few minutes to think about the things that can go wrong on our trip.

NEVER Cave Alone

This is dangerous, fool hardy and is a sure recipe for a disaster. The smallest size group recommend is four people. With this number, if someone is hurt, one person can stay and comfort the injured and the other two can get help.

First-time Cavers

There are several things that should be discussed with people who have never been underground before. Discussing the following points with them will help them be mentally prepared, safer and have a better experience.

  1. Three points of contact should be exhibited when moving over uneven ground. This means having three points on your body supported on immovable objects. Whether it is your left foot, right shoulder and knee; your left elbow, head and right hip; or your right hand, bottom and back.
  2. The group needs to stay together. The only reasons not to have people stay together will involve either someone with an injury or an emergency.
  3. Do not exert yourself beyond the limits of your endurance and never do anything that your are not comfortable with. Remember, discretion is the better part of valor. If anyone should have any questions or anxieties, he or she should make their concerns known. It is a team effort when underground.
  4. Do not leave trash behind, pick up others' trash, do not vandalize and do not take souvenirs. Everyone should know the importance of cave conservation on the trip. The caver's motto: Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing footprints, kill nothing but time.
  5. Have an emergency plan and discuss what will be done if something goes wrong. Everyone should know to wait for instructions from the trip leader, unless he or she is in a life-threatening situation. They need to understand that the trip leader makes the decisions in case of an emergency.

Getting Equipped

Every caving trip requires the same basic equipment and supplies. These items include light, head protection (helmet), food, water, first aid kit and proper clothing.

Responsibility

Caving responsibly involves planning a trip, moving through the cave safely and returning on time. You and your partners are responsible for protecting yourselves and the caves you visit.

Tell Someone Your Plans

Establish a time to be out of the cave and a contact person who knows this information. Notify a reliable person about your caving plans, including the name, the location of the cave you are visiting and your estimated time of return. Agree on what to do if you do not return on time. He or she should understand that they will be the person to call for help if you have not checked in with them after the trip should have ended. If you exit the cave after your estimated exit time contact this person as soon as possible to prevent an unnecessary rescue.

Group Size

A good group size is four to six people. Groups larger than six tend to be slow and difficult to manage, so divide a larger group of cavers into separate groups. Each group should have at least one, preferably two, people who are familiar with the cave and good caving skills and practices.

Alertness and Challenges

When caving it is important to remain clear headed. Drugs, including alcohol, that affect your alertness, judgment or ability to think clearly make you a threat to your group’s safety.

Everyone going on the trip should be physically and mentally ready for the challenges that will be associated with the trip. He or she will also need to have the skills required for the kind of cave. For example, does someone have a limiting medical condition? Is someone claustrophobic and you are going on a tight trip? Will everyone on a vertical trip understand on-rope techniques like a change over? The bottom line is, if you think that you or someone else on the trip is not up to challenges that you will be encountering, it is far better to bring it up before a serious problem arises inside the cave.

Hazards

A novice’s apprehension before a caving trip is healthy and an awareness of possible hazards helps you avoid them. Here are some of the dangers of caving.

  • Getting lost
  • Running out of light
  • Hypothermia
  • Passages flooding
  • Falling rocks
  • Poor footing, falling
  • Falling down pits

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi) announces the inception of the Annual Science Awards program to help fund scientific and conservation research projects on SCCi preserves.  As the nation’s largest and most successful land conservancy devoted to acquiring and protecting caves, the SCCi understands that scientific research must be part of our mission. We firmly believe that research is essential to conserving 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.  The SCCi currently protects 171 caves on 31 preserves in 6 states.  Any one of these would be worthy of various types of scientific investigations. The SCCi is now accepting grant proposals from non-profit caving groups, independent scientists, university/college faculty members, and undergraduate-graduate students for conducting research projects at SCCi properties, beginning in 2017.  Funds can only be given to a not-for-profit organization or education institution. For this year, there are 3 annual awards of $1,500 each for (1) geology, geochemistry, or hydrology, (2) biology (zoology and botany) and (3) environmental/archaeological projects. All proposals must be submitted using the SCCi research proposal online.  The deadline for submissions is August 1, 2017. A team of reviewers will evaluate all proposals and base their decisions on scientific merit.  Decisions will be announced by September 1, 2017.  If an awarded project is to continue into the following year, the researcher(s) may submit a proposal for a research extension.  Results from the research must be submitted to the SCCi as a written report or thesis.  We encourage publishing in scientific journals but the SCCi reserves the right to review each report for approval/disapproval prior to publishing. To submit a grant request visit https://permits.scci.org/annual-science-awards. You must register to complete a grant request. For more information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

If you would like to learn about SCCi's accomplishments over the 2017 fiscal year, you can read the report at http://2017annualreport.scci.org. Great years like this are only possible because of the ongoing support of our members, sustaining members, donors and volunteers. Thank you!



Call for Board Candidate Nominations


 
SCCi is the world's largest land conservancy solely dedicated to cave and karst conservation. The Board of Directors provides strategic oversight for the organization including stewardship of 31 cave preserves, responsible planning for future acquisitions and the management of over $2 million in assets. Currently, SCCi has a 5-year strategic plan which provides for the future growth and direction of the organization. You can read a summary of that plan by clicking here.
Each year a portion of the Board is selected by membership to three year terms. This year there are four positions up for vote.You can self nominate by sending an email with a position statement (in Word or PDF format) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before midnight July 12, 2017. Only members in good standing as of June 10, 2017 can run for a board seat.
The following should be reviewed before deciding to run for the a board seat.
Expectations of Board Members

  • Must be willing to actively serve a full 3-year term, if elected.

  • Must know and support SCCi’s mission and strategic plan.

  • Must acknowledge the accountability, legal liabilities, and possibility of exposure to litigation while serving as a Director.

  • Must acknowledge that as a Director they will be considered ambassadors for SCCi and will be viewed as such by everyone. Individual actions will reflect on the SCCi as a whole.

  • Must recognize the cost, both in time & money, associated with board service. Examples may include telephone expense, property research, and travel to attend meetings and events.

  • Must have email capability as much of SCCi business is conducted outside of scheduled meetings.

  • Beneficial to have attended previous Board meeting(s) to see how SCCi conducts its business.

  • Beneficial to possess knowledge, skill, and experience with financial matters for running a business. Being able to understand the nuances of the annual operating budget, the balance sheet, and the income statements prepared by the Treasurer is critical to the continued success of the SCCi.

  • Beneficial to possess leadership experience obtained from either career venues or from serving in leadership roles in organizations outside of work.

  • Should possess an overall understanding of conservation challenges associated with caves and karst properties.

  • Support the SCCi financially according to your individual means.

  • Realize that fundraising is a major activity of SCCi. Board members are expected to take an active role in fundraising and seeking donations.


 
Schedule of Elections (all days end at midnight Eastern time)
July 12, 2017 Nominations and Candidate Statements Due
July 19, 2017 Elections Open (A voting link will be emailed. If you do not have an email address on file or your email bounces, you will be mailed a notification postcard to the address on file).
August 19, 2017 Election Closes
August 26, 2017 Results Announced at Quarterly Board Meeting
If you have questions related to the election, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 423-771-9671 during regular business hours.