Germany Valley Karst Survey, Surveying Caves, Karst and Karst Features of Germany Valley, West Virginia

111 Wirt St. SW

Leesburg, VA 20175

October 20, 2000

Reference: Quarry Article 4 Application #O-2036-86

Permit Supervisor

Division of Environmental Protection

105 Railroad Street, Suite 301

Phillippi, West Virginia 26416

Dear Permit Supervisor,

It has come to my attention that the Greer Lime Company is applying for a renewal of their mining permit and intend to expand their operations eastward. The expanded quarry operations have a very high probability of intersecting Hellhole, one of West Virginia’s biologically and geologically significant caves.

Hellhole is home to two federally endangered bat species. The cave is one of the largest hibernaculums for Virginia Big-Eared Bats (Plecotus twonsendii virginianus) in the world. Approximately 9,000 Virginia Big-Eared Bats, or 45% of the world’s population, live within the cave. There are also approximately 9,000 Indiana Bats (Myotis sodalis), the largest colony in the Mid-Atlantic region. These bats, along with several other unprotected species, play an integral part in both insect control and pollination in the Germany Valley.

The cave is a superb bat habitat because of its extremely low air temperature. Most caves in West Virginia maintain a constant temperature of 57 degrees Fahrenheit, but Hellhole averages 47 degrees, a temperature ideal for bat hibernation. The delicate nature of this bat habitat would be severely disturbed, if not destroyed, should quarrying operations breach the cave.

The intent of this letter is not to argue against quarrying operations; the quarry provides an essential product and economic benefits to the people of West Virginia. Rather, that before an expansion permit is issued a complete survey of the cave passage be performed. Hellhole has extensive, on-going passageways that are currently unsurveyed. A complete survey of the cave would allow a plan to be developed allowing both expanded quarry operations and protection for the Federally Endangered bat species that reside in the cave.

Thank you,

Craig Hovey

Member, National Speleological Society