/* Begin Common Code>
/* End Common Code> Janet Tinkham/Chair
Front Royal Grotto
21 Tanager Ct
Front Royal, VA 22630
WV Division of Environmental Protection
105 Railroad Street
Philippi, West Virginia 26416
October 25, 2000
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.
Chair/Front Royal Grotto