2015 marked the First Annual SCCi Photo and Video Competition based around our new marketing campaign Sharing the Secrets. Photographers were encouraged to submit photographs and/or videos taken on preserves owned by the SCCi in four categories - Secret Beauty, Secret Adventure, Secret Life, and Secret Water. Submissions began January 1st and ran through February 14th. The winners were announced at our membership appreciation event, Frick's Cave Open House, on February 28th.
There were 126 photographs submitted by 15 photographers. Five categories were judged by professional photographers who were both cavers and non-cavers. The sixth category, People's Choice, was voted on via Facebook likes and received 72 votes (the next closest had 55 votes).
We would like to first give a special thank you to everyone who submitted photographs! The judges certainly had their work cut out for them choosing from the stunning images.
We are proud to now share the winners of the First Annual SCCi Photo Competition!

2015_PhotoCompetition_Winners_SecretBeauty


2015_PhotoCompetition_Winners_SecretAdventure


2015_PhotoCompetition_Winners_SecretLife


2015_PhotoCompetition_Winners_SecretWater


2015_PhotoCompetition_Winners_PeoplesChoice


2015_PhotoCompetition_Winners_BestofShow


The winning photographers received a plaque in recognition of their work.


2015_PhotoCompetition_Award


It's never too early to grab your cameras and start taking pictures! This was but the first of our annual photo competitions. We are very excited to see what beautiful images our supporters come up with for next year. Don't forget to Like our Facebook page so you do not miss our announcements about the 2016 installation of the photo competition.

Photo entries are posted on the SCCi Facebook page
for this year's contest; now it is up to you to help us select the People's Choice winner! The photo with the most "likes" by February 27 at 11 PM Eastern will be the winner of the People's Choice Award. Please be sure to share these photos and encourage all of your friends to vote, both cavers and non-cavers alike. Please also share with other groups on Facebook with an interest in photography, outdoors, hiking, etc.
At the conclusion of the contest, photographers names and preserve names will be added to the photos.
StephenAlvarez3 - permission granted

The Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. is excited to announce that our Stephens Gap Callahan Cave Preserve is now open for visitation! Under an access agreement with the owner of the property crossed by the hiking trail to the preserve, SCCi is now issuing permits to visit this unique place. Permit requests can be completed electronically; details are available on the Stephens Gap preserve web page. Visitors will need to complete and return a liability waiver and the Clean Caving Questionnaire with their permit request, and place the issued permit on the dashboard of your parked vehicle while you are visiting the preserve. Permit requests and questions about the permit process should be emailed to the preserve managers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
SCCi purchased Stephens Gap Cave last December, protecting it forever! But we need to raise $150,000 to cover our acquisition and stewardship costs; will you help? You can make a secure online donation today at http://www.scci.org/support/. You can "buy" an honorary piece of Stephens Gap Cave, join SCCi as a regular or sustaining member, increase your current sustaining contribution level, or make a one-time donation. SCCi is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; your donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.
If you've already made a donation in support of SCCi's acquisition of Stephens Gap, thank you!
Not ready to join as a member or make a financial contribution, but want to stay connected with SCCi? By providing us with your contact information, you can stay informed about exciting SCCi news and announcements!
Ron Miller
Chair
Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc.
Photo ©Stephen Alvarez. Used with permission.

The Gating of Hollow Ridge Cave: A SCCi Preserve



Allen, Kristen and Uriah at entrance #1 gate with lock
Allen, Kristen and Uriah at entrance #1 gate with lock[
]
On December 5-7, 2014 a group of cavers met to gate Hollow Ridge Cave in Jackson County, Florida. This was necessary because the county was in the process of building hiking trails just downhill of the bluff line where the lower cave entrances are located. The gates were constructed to keep out vandals and to keep people from getting lost in the cave which contains 3400’ of surveyed passage. There are also rare cave fauna that need protection.
Kristin Bobo designed the cave gates and provided her expertise in installation. Her Assistant, Uriah Pryor, cut the steel. The hauling group consisted of Allen Mosler, Bufford Pruitt, and Tevis Kouts. Tiffiny Kouts, Terrin Kouts, and D’Ann Mosler ran errands. Guy Yates helped return some of the equipment to Tallahassee.
It took three days to build four gates. The gate at Entrance 1 (with lock) was located at the upper entrance and is 3’x8’ in size. The gates at Entrance 2 were located 70’ inside the entrance and are 3’x3’ and 6’x2.5’ at the flood plain level. Entrance Gates 3 & 4 were placed 30’ inside the cave and block three of the mid-bluff entrances. It took about a day and a half to build each gate. The process was Kristen would measure for the needed steel, Uriah would cut the steel, and someone would carry the steel to the gate and help Kristen with the installation. The gates were impressive being made from 6”x6”x3/8” and 4”x4”x3/8” angle iron. They look bullet-proof.
In addition to the people above who provided their time and talent, I would like to thank the following grottos and cavers that made donations: Flint River Grotto, Florida Speleological Society, Middle Georgia Grotto, River City Grotto, Tamps Bay Area Grotto, Paul Aughey, Matt Fisher, Jerry Johnson, Kitty Markley, Roger Moore, Allen Mosler, Steve Nemeth, Ed Pratt, Larry Rueff, and Philip Walker. Donations of over $4000 were made that covered about 60% of the cost of building the gates. The extra steel was taken to Gainesville by Bufford Pruitt to be used in the reconstruction of Warrens Cave gate, a NSS Preserve.
This hard-working and generous group of cavers made this project a success…thank you.
Allen Mosler
Property Manager, Hollow Ridge Cave
Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc.
 
[gallery ids="1717,1712,1715,1716,1713,1714"]
Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc is pleased to invite our members and their guests to the Frick's Cave Annual Open House. 
Throughout the year, Frick's Cave is closed to protect endangered bats and salamanders that live in the cave. On this ONE DAY ONLY, while the bachelor colony of bats is not present, the SCCi will open the cave to show our appreciation for your membership. After exploring the cave, please join us around the fire for hot food, a talk about the endangered bats, and announcement of the winners of the 1st SCCi Photo and Video Contest!

To help our volunteers plan please RSVP here.


Date: February 28, 2015 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Who: Open to current SCCi members and their guests.
Schedule of Events - 

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM: Cave open for visitation, assuming summer gray bat colony has not yet returned. Note: SCCi Clean Caving Procedures will be strictly enforced! Frick's is a stream cave, please dress accordingly.


12:00 PM - 4:00 PM: Hot food will be available until supplies run out.
Don't forget to RSVP so we can plan!


1:00 PM: Trina Morris, a bat biologist from GA Dept of Natural Resources, will talk about the Frick's Cave gray bat colony.


Winners of the SCCi Photo and Video Contest will be announced after the bat talk.


Location: To protect our properties we do not publish their locations online. If you are a member and do not know where the Frick's Cave Preserve is located please use the contact information below to obtain directions.
Questions: Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Call us at (423) 771-9671.
As most of you probably are aware, in December, SCCi purchased a property containing Stephens Gap Cave, Pipeside Pit and three other known caves in Jackson County, Alabama.
Unfortunately, working out an access agreement with the new owner of the land between the county road and SCCi's property boundary near Pipeside Pit is taking longer than anticipated. The trail to the cave goes through this neighbor's property, and he has asked that we not allow visitors to cross his property until an agreement is in place.
We apologize for the delay in opening the preserve to visitation; however, we are hopeful that we will be able to come up with an access solution that works for all parties in the near future.
We'll keep you posted here and at our website of any changes. Until then, please respect the property rights of our neighbor and postpone any planned visits to the Stephens Gap Cave Preserve for now. SCCi appreciates your patience as we work out these access issues.
Stephens Gap Cave. Photo by Lynn Roebuck (https://www.flickr.com/photos/caving).
Stephens Gap Cave. Photo by Lynn Roebuck (https://www.flickr.com/photos/caving).

We are happy to announce that the Buy a Piece of Stephens Gap Cave Preserve eStore is now active. Named features are first come, first served so don't delay if you have one in mind!
Follow this link to see what features are still available or to reserve a slice of the Pit or Walkdown Entrances.
(Please note that this will take you to a secure site off of the SCCi.org website.)
PURCHASE A PIECE OF STEPHENS GAP HERE
Stephens Gap Cave. Photo by Lynn Roebuck. Stephens Gap Cave. Photo by Lynn Roebuck.
Stephens Gap is one of the most beloved caves in the Southeast, with a beautiful 143-ft pit that cavers love and a huge walk-in entrance that draws hikers, photographers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. The view of the pit from the walk-in passage is one of the most photographed wild cave scenes in North America. Located in the heart of Jackson County, AL, Stephens Gap, is SCCi’s 30th cave preserve. By acquiring this preserve, SCCi ensures that it’s protected and preserved for future generations of cavers, hikers, and photographers.
The bottom of the entrance pit can only be reached using vertical caving skills, knowledge, and equipment to safely descend by rappelling a rope and ascending that same rope with specialty equipment to exit the cave. The bottom of the entrance pit is 143 feet below the edge.
The best way to obtain the skills needed for vertical caving is to join a local caving club (grotto) of the National Speleological Society (www.caves.org) and receive hands-on training from its members. The walk-in passage does not require rope, but is steep in places and may be slippery, particularly when it’s wet. The walk-in passage intersects the pit about 50 feet above the floor; therefore, extreme caution should be exercised close to the edge as footing can be uncertain.
Help us preserve and protect this beautiful cave by making an honorary purchase of a section of Stephens Gap by clicking here.

Important Information About Your Visit



  • If you do not possess vertical caving skills, ability or experience needed to safely visit the bottom of the pit, Stephens Gap is still an impressive and unique place to visit and the short walk-in passage alone may be worth the hiking effort. Please be careful – the trail is primitive and can be steep and slippery. Bring water and stay hydrated.

  • Helmets, headlamps and sturdy shoes/boots are strongly recommended, even in the walk-in passage; helmets are required for any climbing or rope-related activities.

  • Cellular telephone coverage is poor to nonexistent in the area; don’t count on being able to call for help from the preserve.

  • Please do not endanger your life or the lives of rescuers by attempting anything beyond your known skills and abilities.

  • There are only three rig points for rope allowed at the top of the pit: the large tree near the arrival area; the large tree on the bench above the arrival area; and one of several trees up the hill from the “Keyhole” entrance.

  • Pad any trees used to rig ropes at Stephens Gap.

  • Camping is only allowed on the bluff above the pit entrance (no camping in the parking area); there is only room for a couple of small tents; conditions are primitive (no electricity, water or toilets) and all waste must be packed out. Add camping to your permit request’s itinerary if you’ll be staying overnight.

  • Use of drones is prohibited.

  • When you visit the preserve, please place your permit on the dashboard of your parked vehicle while you are visiting the preserve. Vehicles without evidence of a permit – either the permit form itself, or a piece of paper with a valid permit number must be displayed – may be towed. Do not use or block the green gate into the adjacent quarry property.


Preserve Information


Cave type: 143 ft open-air pit (requires vertical rope skills) and steep walk-in horizontal entrance
Trail: Approximately ¾ mi / 300 foot increase in elevation
Hiking-only permit (no cave access) available: No
Camping: Yes; limited primitive camping (no electricity, water or toilets); campsite is on bluff above pit entrance ¾ mi from parking area
Pets: On leash; pack out waste
Acreage: 123 acres in Jackson County, Alabama
Preserve Management Team: Milton Polsky, Tom Whitehurst, and Aaron Polsky (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Preserve Management: Stephens Gap Visitor Use Plan
Maps: Cave Map | Pit Map


All SCCi Preserves require a no-cost permit. Visit permits.scci.org .


 
Stephens Gap Cave Alabama
Stephens Gap Cave, photo by Alan Cressler

Stephens Gap is one of the most beloved caves in the southeast, with a beautiful pit that cavers love and a huge walk-in entrance that draws hikers, photographers, and outdoor enthusiasts. The SCCi is very excited to announce that we now own this fantastic cave! Located in the heart of Jackson County, AL, the Stephens Gap Callahan Cave Preserve is our 30th cave preserve! By purchasing this beautiful cave, the SCCi will ensure that it's protected and preserved for future generations of cavers, hikers, and photographers. This purchase was not cheap. We need to raise $150,000 to cover the land costs, closing costs, and the funding needed to care for the cave in to the future. If you enjoy visiting Stephens Gap, or would like to visit it in the future, please join us in establishing our newest, and likely one of our most popular, preserves! Thank you for your support.
Help us preserve and protect this beautiful cave! 
Details coming soon about how you can buy your own honorary piece of this beautiful cave.