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

Janet Tinkham/Chair

Front Royal Grotto

21 Tanager Ct

Front Royal, VA 22630

WV Division of Environmental Protection

105 Railroad Street

Suite 301

Philippi, West Virginia 26416

October 25, 2000

Dear Sir;

The Front Royal Grotto is a chapter of the National Speleological Society (NSS) and has a membership that is dedicated to the conservation of caves and the fragile ecosystems they sustain. We are extremely concerned that Hellhole cave will be damaged by the blind expansion of quarrying as proposed by Greer Lime Company.

If this cave is breached, the unique physical attributes that have proven to be so beneficial to the survival of thousands of endangered and federally protected bats will no longer exist. This cave acts as an immense enclosure of colder-than-normal air due to its unusual form and its single elevated entrance. These features provide prime hibernation conditions for Virginia big-eared bats and Indiana bats, both of which are designated as federally-endangered species. If even very small, but new entrances open the cave, a loss of the colder air may result, thus damaging the quality of this fabulous bat hibernaculum.

If the quality of this hibernation site is diminished, the excuse of not knowing where the cave passages were located cannot be accepted. Hellhole is closed to cavers and has been for many years. There are offers from experienced cave surveyors to map Hellhole free of charge. Surveying Hellhole may take some time, but what is a postponement for Greer Lime Company in comparison to permanently losing this unique habitat of significant populations of endangered bats?

Front Royal Grotto supports the quarrying by Greer Lime Company, but would like to see future expansions planned carefully in order to preserve this special and valuable habitat.

Sincerely,

Janet Tinkham

Chair/Front Royal Grotto