Did you know that for the cost of a fast-food lunch you can buy a cave?How? By becoming a Sustaining Member of the SCCi! The Conservancy needs a steady income to make mortgage payments on all current acquisitions such as Fern Cave and Steward Spring Cave. Your monthly contribution of $10 or more can be leveraged into more than $100,000 per year in cave purchases.
The Southeastern Cave Conservancy, through its Valhalla Society, is working to protect and manage caves in the southeast. Its major activity is the acquisition of cave preserves, usually by purchase or lease. Contributions from members and donors are always needed for new acquisitions. These come through wills, bequest and insurance or IRA beneficiaries.
In addition, the Conservancy has continuing expenses for property taxes, surveys, boundary marking, maintenance, and other stewardship and management activities. It is often difficult to raise and set aside funds for these ongoing expenses of stewardship. The Conservancy is working to establish financial security and guarantee the protection and preservation of its preserves in decades to come.
You can help ensure the long-term success of the Conservancy by making a provision in your will, life insurance, or estate plan to leave a gift to the Conservancy. This is called Planned Giving. Through your planned gift to the SCCi, you can choose which of the Conservancy's programs you wish to support. Gifts to the General Fund support all of the Conservancy's activities. Gifts to the Cave Acquisition Fund will be used to buy or lease caves. Or, you can designate your gift toward one of our restricted funds, such as the Stewardship Fund or the Endowment Fund.
Many SCCi preserves feature beautiful landscapes and photogenic cave entrances. Most of our preserves are open for hiking and photography at any time with no restrictions. However, if you are planning to go inside one of our caves, please follow these guidelines.
Visiting SCCi Caves:
SCCi members have committed enormous amounts of money and time to help protect caves and fragile cave ecosystems. Introduction of foreign substances into our caves can have unintended consequences to cave life. In addition to concerns regarding White Nose Syndrome (WNS), some caves have microscopic life that is unique to that cave, and that can be decimated by material introduced from other caves. The SCCi Board of Directors has adopted guidelines to help reduce the potential that cavers could inadvertently impact our cave ecosystems by carrying soil, water, or other substances from one cave to another. If you have any questions, please contact an SCCi board member or the appropriate SCCi property manager. Before and After Visiting Any SCCi Cave Preserve Clean and disinfect all clothing and gear following the Clean Caving Procedures before and after going inside any SCCi cave. Permitted SCCi Cave Preserves Read the SCCi Cave Visitation Policy. Complete and return the Clean Caving Questionnaire to the SCCi Property Manager. If you save this file to your computer then reopen it, you can fill out the information online. This procedure is in addition to any other permit requirements contained in the preserve management plan. Planning Cave Cleanups: Want to schedule a cleanup trip on an SCCi preserve? We'd love your help! Read the SCCi Cleanup Policy and Procedure to learn how to plan your cleanup trip.
One of the SCCi's most popular fundraising programs is the "Buy a Piece of the Cave" program. You can buy an honorary piece of a cave passage or surface plot, your name is added to an outstanding map of the cave or surface plot of the property, and you will also receive a certificate and t-shirt specifically created for the individual cave preserve. Various types of cave passage or surface features are "for sale" with many of our programs. The following links open copies of all of the existing maps so you can find your name and print out a poster. If you haven't bought a piece of a cave, make a donation now and your name will be added to the poster! These posters are also good ways to see what some of our cave preserves are like. You can also review the different options available with the Buy a Piece of a Cave program and buy your own piece of a cave today!
SCCi preserves are of great interest to explorers, scientists, historians, artists and others. We encourage the study and exploration of our preserves. Simultaneously, SCCi is committed to a conservation mission that ensures that our caves and preserves remain in their natural state for future generations. To balance these two goals, SCCi has a process for individuals and organizations interested in pursuing activities on SCCi preserves that are beyond the traditional recreational uses of our preserves, which include caving, hiking, ridge walking, bird watching, and similar pursuits. We have attempted to make the process as transparent and straightforward as possible. All permitting is done through http://permits.scci.org. The information below is provided to guide you through the permitting process. Research Permits SCCi requires Research Permits for all research activities on our preserves, in order to ensure that our stewardship continues to be informed by the latest scientific knowledge. We define the term “research” broadly to include any scientific activity intended to obtain information about our resources, including but not limited to: data collection, inventories, monitoring, and sampling or collection of any type of biota, geologic media (e.g. rocks, minerals, formations, soil, sediment or deposit), water, or air. Research Permits permit the research activity for up to one year. Visitor Permits are required when the research team will be on site. If you are unsure as to whether your proposed activity requires a research permit, please contact us with details of what you would like to do. Special Use Permits SCCi requires Special Use Permits (SUP) for all non-research activities that (1) fall outside typical recreational use of a preserve, (2) have the potential to impact preserves/caves, their natural or cultural resources, or (3) interfere with the visitor experience. Examples when a Special Use Permit is needed include, but are not limited to:
Any activity prohibited or listed as requiring a special use permit in an SCCi preserve management plan, visitor use plan, or policy. (e.g., group sizes that exceed limits; camping; disturbing, collecting, or removing artifacts, biota or geologic media (just to be clear, the mud that sticks to your shoes, clothes or gear is OK!), digging in the cave or on the preserve, modifying the cave passage, bolting of any nature, removal or replacement of existing bolts or rigging, use of rigging points other than those allowed, etc.)
Cave exploration and survey. If you found a previously unknown or unexplored cave on an SCCi preserve; discovered previously unknown passage within a known cave; want to do a lead climb to explore a high lead, dome, or canyon; or want to re-survey a previously mapped cave, you need a SUP. All new cave exploration will follow a “survey-as-you-explore” ethic, and that all cave survey activities will meet our current survey standards.
Cleanup activities beyond the removal of typical incidental modern litter that may accumulate in caves and on preserves. A SUP is required for organized group cleanups; large-scale waste removal; or ANY graffiti removal, formation cleaning.
The Southeastern Cave Conservancy buys caves! We buy caves to provide recreational caving access, to protect endangered species, to protect fragile watersheds, and to provide other types of recreational opportunities like photography, hiking, and camping, and to provide opportunities for scientific research. Sometimes if we are unable to actually buy property, we will work with the landowner to set up a lease. Leases allow our supporters to visit, photograph, and hike to caves that may have been closed for many years, and allows cavers to help protect fragile underground ecosystems. We also partner with many other conservation organizations across the region to accomplish our mission. Many people are confused about the SCCi's business model. Unlike many land conservancies that set up easements and accept land donations, we buy property at fair market value. Owning property is one of the fundamental principles of our organization. We think that the best way to protect caves and property forever is to own what we want to protect. Sure, we'll take a donated cave any time we can get one as long as the cave fits in with our mission, but we know that we need to try to buy caves we want to protect. If we can't buy a cave we want, we try to lease it. We own over 1,400 acres of land, 23 separate cave preserves, and lease many more acres. We have a list of many more caves we're actively trying to buy. We started out buying caves in the area centered around Chattanooga, TN that features one of the most fabulous caving areas in the country. As the SCCi grew, we started to expand outward to protect properties throughout the southeast. We currently own or manage caves in six southeastern states, including Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, and West Virginia.