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MAY 2021


Photo Courtesy of T. Whitehurst

Celebrating SCCi's 35th Preserve

SCCi is proud to announce on our 30th anniversary the acquisition of our 35th preserve. The Salamander Cave Preserve is located in Giles County, Virginia about an hour west of Blacksburg, and includes 70 acres that encompass 95% of the cave footprint. Salamander Cave is over 2 miles long and is a rather complex vertical maze consisting primarily of narrow sinuous canyons.

Under the Virginia Cave Protection Act, Salamander Cave was designated as a “significant cave” and was assigned “very significant” status by the Virginia Speleological Survey, thus making conservation of Salamander Cave a priority for Virginia, as well as for the entire cave and karst community. In addition, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR) has identified Salamander Cave as a site of “global outstanding biodiversity significance.” VDCR was instrumental in putting together a partnership to facilitate SCCi’s purchase of the cave.

This acquisition was funded entirely by a grant from Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC (Mountain Valley). Natalie Cox said on behalf of Mountain Valley, "Mountain Valley has a long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship, and were pleased to partner with SCCi to protect Salamander Cave. As part of the SCCi Conservation Partnership, Mountain Valley has voluntarily provided funding that is specifically dedicated to the long-term stewardship and preservation of parcels embracing Salamander Cave.”

The preserve is currently being readied for visitation and SCCi will announce when it is available on the permitting site. Visitors will be able to enjoy hiking and caving on the preserve.  A future camping option is being considered.

30 Years of Wild Cave Conservation

In 1990, a group of cavers gathered in a living room in Atlanta, GA and discussed forming a non-profit organization dedicated to cave acquisition, management, and recreational access. On May 1,1991, their dream became a reality. 30 years later, SCCi is the world's largest land conservancy solely dedicated to cave and karst conservation. SCCi protects these very special resources on 35 Preserves across 7 states.

As one of the founders, Bill Putnam, says, "I am continually amazed at all that SCCi has accomplished, at what it continues to do, and at what it has become. In our wildest dreams, we never expected such success.”

For our 30th Anniversary, be on the lookout for stories, photographs and videos of our founding members and our first acquisitions including Howard's Waterfall Preserve and Neversink Preserve. You will find these on our social media channels as well as the blog at SaveYourCaves.org.

You can help us celebrate by making a $30 gift in honor of all the volunteers that have ensured caves are safeguarded, fragile ecosystems are protected, historic artifacts are preserved, and endangered species thrive for 30 Years.

Hugden Cave Open for Caving

We are excited to announce a partnership with the Tennessee River Gorge Trust to open Hugden Cave to recreational caving. Using SCCi's online permitting system and history of recreational cave access, TRGT is able to provide cavers access to Hugden and continue to preserve its natural beauty. 

The cave is located near downtown Chattanooga. It is part of TRGT's 17,000 conserved acres in the scenic Tennessee River Gorge. From large, picturesque rooms to tight squeezes, this cave offers a fun adventure for experienced cavers. Preserve Manager Jeremy Rardin describes the cave as "primarily a low wet crawl cave with two nice waterfall rooms. You can request a permit at https://permits.scci.org.

Meet Our New Chief Scientist

Dr. Jan Simek is a New York native who has spent his career as a Distinguished Professor of Science at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. With a passion for cave archaeology and cave art, he is the founder of the Cave Archeology Research Team at the University. His research includes Paleolithic Archaeology, Human Evolution, Quantitative Analyses, Spatial Analysis, Southeastern Archaeology, and Cave Archaeology. We are grateful for Dr. Simek’s willingness to serve with SCCi and look forward to working with him on cave research. 

SCCi Research Projects

With Spring having officially arrived, researchers on SCCi preserves are gearing up for another field season.

Above and below ground biological inventories have been underway for the past year, with significant work being completed in Dade (GA), Dekalb (AL), Franklin (TN), Jackson (AL), and Marion (TN) Counties. One of our newest preserves, Balcony Sink, recently underwent dye tracing to better understand where the water flows once it disappears into the limestone.

SCCi has cave surveying projects ongoing across many preserves, with new passages being found in caves on a monthly basis. Just this past year, 5 more caves have been located on the Henson Preserve with one mapped at over 500ft of passage with a 30ft open air entrance pit.

As the year progresses, we are focusing on local institutions taking ownership of inventories and annual monitoring of observation sites. To be a part of this research and exploration experience, apply for a Research Permit at https://permits.scci.org.


SCCi Annual Meeting

SCCi is hosting our 30th Annual Members Meeting on June 12. Due to the continuing COVID-19 situation, the meeting will be virtual. Current members will be sent an email with a link to RSVP and as we approach the date of the meeting, you will be sent additional information on how to join online. 

Although we cannot meet in person again this year, we encourage you to join us to learn what SCCi has accomplished over the past year, including the addition of several preserves.

Monthly Giving Makes the Difference

Did you know that half of SCCi’s income comes from Sustaining Members? Sustaining Members make a monthly donation using their credit card or bank account. This stream of predictable income makes it possible for SCCi to plan long-term for the forever stewardship of some of the most significant caves in the region. You can become a sustaining member today for as little as $5 a month. Click the button below to get started.

Volunteer Opportunities

We thank you for your interest and assistance in helping support SCCi and our mission. We are here to protect caves and karst landscapes through the Southeastern U.S. through conservation, education, and recreation. We could not do this work without you. 

We are using a new system to post upcoming volunteer projects. One of our projects where we are need of assistance is an administrative task. Please click on the link for more information:



At SCCi, we protect and preserve caves through conservation, education, and recreation. When caves are safeguarded, fragile ecosystems are protected, historic artifacts are preserved, and endangered species thrive.

Contact Us

Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc.
PO Box 250
Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377
(423) 771-9671

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