Another Preserve in Tennessee

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Re: Another Preserve in Tennessee

Postby wyandottecaver » Jan 21, 2013 9:10 am

If FWS is involved I can't say I am optimistic.
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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Re: Another Preserve in Tennessee

Postby PYoungbaer » Jan 21, 2013 8:54 pm

I share wyandottecaver's pessimism. The state has the bottom line say on their property, but with federally endangered species involved, the feds do have authority to protect those bats. Without WNS, a seasonal visitation plan might well be supported. However, USFWS has yet to revise its original caving advisory. As such, for them to support any visitation to any cave in Tennessee (a WNS-affected state) would be inconsistent with their currently stated position.

That said, the advisory is just that - advisory. Their only authority would be under the ESA, and would need to get into an analysis of critical habitat, etc. That the USFWS' authroity is somewhat limited, and that the state is aware of the historical use of the cave and the apparent desires of the previous landowner, may offer some hope of a reasonable resolution.

I strongly urge folks to stay engaged.
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Re: Another Preserve in Tennessee

Postby Stopher » Mar 19, 2013 10:34 am

Surely Im not the only one getting frustrated. So frustrated in fact Im finding it very difficult to find a place to begin. How many caves are going to be purchased and closed by the state. First off if its on state (public)land that is paid for by tax payers then I believe the caves should remain open to the publc(within reason of course). Secondly we are going into year 4 with WNS... I understand the need to find a cure and protect the bats.. but at the same time why are we closing ALL caves on state land... not all caves are inhabited by bats. When I bring this up in discusion Im often told to go to privetly owned caves, well I do but many times Ive also been told by cave owners that they got a letter from the state urging them to close thier cave due to WNS... even though there are no bats in their caves. ??? I also dont understadn why the state is going out of their way to purchase land with caves on it just o gate them afterwards.. Example... Grassy Cove Saltpetre Cave.. The State has a tract of land that runs across the top of Brady Mountain (part of the cumberland trail) well they recently just purchased the land that GCSC is located on... a cave that has been visited by cavers for years(very badly vandalized I admit) and it is scheduled to be gated this summer along with caves on Black Mountain. There seems to be a pattern.. Devil Step Hollow... Gated... Bone Cave... Gated.. GCSC.. soon to be gated... Windlass Cave... soon to be gated... Lost Creek... who knows... I hope not. And finally.. why is it that the people that are responsible for gating the caves(so called researchers who do just as much damage to the cave as the public, state workers who work for the park and the people who construct the gates) are still getting into gated caves. You know how frustrating it is to see photos of a cave posted on line taken by the person who put up the gate to keep you out.... shew I feel better.. lol
Last edited by Stopher on Mar 20, 2013 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Another Preserve in Tennessee

Postby UnderGroundEarth » Mar 20, 2013 7:35 am

The US Fish & Wildlife are also currently persuing a big tract of land in Franklin County, Tennessee at the head of the Paint Rock River.

Sewanee Mountain Grotto members have been following it and a few even went to the first public meeting back in January. Here is the last update from the USFWS about the potential refuge:

"Hello - the first phase of public involvement regarding the Paint Rock River refuge proposal has ended. Via the link below you can access the "summary of the public comments" on the project website. It is a summary of all the ideas, issues, and concerns received to date. ... s2-28-2013.\pdf

Your next opportunity to comment will be during April 2013, when we will make the draft Land Protection Plan and Environmental Assessment available for public review and comment. We will send out an email around mid-March to let you know the exact date that the document will become available.

If you have trouble accessing the above link or have any other questions, please let me know.

Again, we thank you for your comments and participation.


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Re: Another Preserve in Tennessee

Postby tncaver » Mar 20, 2013 8:30 am

Unless enough people complain in writing to state and federal governments and agencies, at all levels, about their taxes being used to shut them out of public and private land and keeping them from using public land for caving, it is unlikely anything will improve. Obviously the USFWS is proceeding with their short sighted plan to CONTROL as many caves as they possibly can. The Land of the Free rings hollow in America. It seems cavers are not going to wake up to reality until it is too late. I've been preaching this for several years now as the caving situation grows worse. Unfortunately, cavers are a small group when considered on a national level. Therefore we have little influence. This is especially true if only a small percentage of cavers make any effort to halt the closure of caves. Motivating people to act, even for their own good, appears to be an almost impossible task.
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Re: Another Preserve in Tennessee

Postby Stopher » Mar 20, 2013 9:16 am

Heres another thought.. They say they are gating these caves to protect bats, yet Ive been in several prior to them being gated and seen no sign of bats anywhere. They gate them claiming they are protecting the cave.. yet how many caves has the state and federal goverment barried putting in a interstate or a parking lot. I know of many... where was the protection then? They gate them saying they are protecting a water source.. yet Ive seen caves almost choked closed with garbage from road run off. I think the proper word here is CONTROL.
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Re: Another Preserve in Tennessee

Postby cavergirl » Apr 5, 2013 3:57 pm

Heads up Tennessee cavers:
*Paint Rock River National Wildlife Refuge Proposal Available for Review and Comment*

A public meeting will be held on April 10, 2013. This meeting will give
the public an opportunity to view a presentation summarizing the proposal
and address some of the known concerns, discuss the proposed establishment,
have questions answered, and provide written comments about the proposed
*Where: Franklin County High School Auditorium, 833 Bypass Road,
Winchester, TN 37398
*When: April 10, 2013 - 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (CDT)
5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. - Open House
7:30 p.m. - Presentation on the proposal
8:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. - Questions and Answer Session
For more information, and to review these documents please visit:

In the Environmental Assessment, two alternatives (Alternative A: No Refuge and Alternative B: Proposed Action to Establish Refuge) and their potential impacts on the environment are evaluated.

Gerald Moni, mapbook keeper for the Tennessee Cave Survey tells me: “In the Conservation Partnership Area are 68 caves listed in the TCS. This area is also surrounded by other state owned lands so that in effect most of the Cumberland Plateau in western Franklin County will be under government ownership or control.”
And we all know what happens to caves on federal land.
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Re: Another Preserve in Tennessee

Postby PYoungbaer » Apr 7, 2013 11:20 am

cavergirl - thanks for the notice.

From the Environmental Assessment:

"Over 11,000 caves have been documented in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Most of these are
concentrated in the Cumberland Plateau and Highland Rim physiographic provinces, which contain
some of the highest densities of caves in the country (Culver et al. 2000). Caves in the area support
one of the richest assemblages of cave-obligate species known in the country. However, due to large
gaps in biological and hydrological data for the region, it is difficult to develop a comprehensive model
for describing and delineating these intricate subterranean ecosystems."

But, while they say it's difficult to develop and comprehensive model, they go on to say, when talking about the federally-endangered gray bat,

"The most important feature of this plan would be the protection of roosting habitat. This would require gaining control of important hibernacula and maternity caves and protecting them from human disturbance. This can be done by direct purchase, cooperative agreements, easement, etc."

While caves and karst are mentioned in several places throughout the document, under the various sections describing socio-economic impact and recreational use, there is absolutely no mention of caving or impacts to it. Neither is there any mention of scientific study in caves, nor any mention of collaborative agreements or arrangements with cave or cave conservation organizations. This is in contrast to other conservation organizations.

Tennessee and other TAG cavers, the SCCi, grottos and the NSS need to be participating.
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