Mulepen Cave Addition

Mulepen Cave Addition

John Attaway has graciously donated an additional parcel of land to expand the Mayapple - Steve and Nancy Attaway Preserve. It includes the short but hydrologically significant Mulepen Cave, which is the primary swallet for Dry Creek. These waters flow into Mulepen Cave, through Mayapple Cave, then Big Room and Big Mouth Caves on their way to Sartain Spring on the Elk River. Conserving Mulepen Cave will help protect the water quality in this complex karst system for perpetuity. SCCi is once again grateful for John Attaway's generosity and dedication to conserving caves and karst in Tennessee.

The Mayapple - Steve and Nancy Attaway Preserve is approximately 18 acres located in Grundy County, Tennessee. Created from land donated by John, the preserve is named in memory of his son Steve who passed away in 2019, and in honor of Steve’s wife Nancy. It now includes three caves, six entrances, and over 6000 feet of passages.

Photo credit: T. Whitehurst

Run To The Mill Incident

On Saturday August 21, someone rammed the locked gate at SCCi’s Run To The Mill Preserve. The impact damaged the gate and the front end of the vehicle. The vehicle continued down the driveway, ran through the parking area, and continued on the old roadbed. The vehicle then drove off a 35 foot embankment into the entrance sink to the cave. The driver and passenger fled the scene.

There appears to be no environmental damage to the cave or surrounding area. Plans are being made for extracting the vehicle. Until that time, Run To The Mill will be closed for visitation.

John Attaway Donates SCCi's 32nd Preserve

On July 27, 2020, John Attaway has generously donated to the Southeastern Cave Conservancy (SCCi) a 17-acre parcel containing Mayapple  and  Meander caves. This stunning piece of property is located in Payne Cove in Grundy County, Tennessee.

Closing2Mayapple Cave has three entrances, all located on the property, with more than 6,000 feet of horizontal passage and 154 feet of vertical cave. Meander is a smaller cave with 123 feet of horizontal passage.

The preserve will be named the “Mayapple - Steve and Nancy Attaway Preserve” in memory of John’s son Steve who passed away a year ago and in honor of Steve’s wife Nancy who resides in New Mexico. Steve was an active caver in the Southeast during the 1970's and 1980's and served in cave rescue alongside his father.

Steve moved to New Mexico to work at Sandia National Laboratories in 1987 and enjoyed a successful career there until his passing. He maintained his dedication to rescue by serving in Albuquerque Mountain Rescue as a rescue leader, performing hundreds of rescue missions in the wilderness of New Mexico over the years. Steve and Nancy were also accomplished jewelers and gem carvers, winning awards for their work.

Mayapple BBiddix 
 Photo credit B. Biddix

SCCi Director Kyle Lassiter says, “John Attaway has been an exemplary caver and landowner for over 45 years. He has always been a very active and engaged member of the caving community. It is not a surprise that his children (Steve and his sister Myrna) followed suit and greatly enriched the caving community in their own right. His generous donation to the SCCi will allow the Attaway legacy to be remembered for many generations to come. The SCCi is excited to protect these caves on this beautiful land forever, honoring his passion for cave conservation.”

SCCi is currently making preparations to open the preserve for visitation. As with SCCi’s other 30 preserves, recreational use will be carefully balanced with conservation.

 

SCCi Responds to Chattanooga Times-Free Press Article

SCCi is aware of the article written in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press and published on June 3, 2020.  According to the article, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division “sent a notice to Southeastern Cave Conservancy” on May 20 that requires us to give them steps that outline how some gravels and rip-rap rock that have entered Hurricane Creek will be removed and properly relocated or disposed. It also requires us to state a remediation schedule and the projected completion for the corrective action plan. We are complying with that request and are completing what needs to be done in the time frame given.

SCCi placed gravel and rip-rack rock under an EPA 319 Clean Water Grant at the beginning of the year. The work was meant to stabilize flows into Hurricane Creek. Unfortunately, torrential rains washed away much of the remediation work before it settled, causing the extra material to flow into Hurricane Creek.

SCCi continues to work diligently to protect the lands with which we have been entrusted. 

Temporary COVID19 Closures - UPDATED

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.

Tumbling Rock Changes and Improvements

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.

COVID-19 Update

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.

Fatality at Valhalla Preserve

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.