William M. Balfour, P.G., Director

987 Doe Creek Rd.

Pembroke, VA 24136

Email: Bal4karst@msn.com

 


THE WEST VIRGINIA SPELEOLOGICAL SURVEY


10/10/00

WV Division of Environmental Protection

105 Railroad Street

Suite 301

Philippi, West Virginia 26416

 

Dear Sirs:

It has come to our attention (via the September 28, 2000 issue of The Pendleton Times) that Greer Lime Company in Germany Valley has filed for a permit renewal and expansion of its operation to the east.

The Greer Lime quarry is located directly west of Hellhole, one of the most significant caves within the State of West Virginia. The same calcium-pure beds that made the limestone a commercial product have also produced some of the largest cave passages and rooms in West Virginia and one of the most impressive cave systems in the world.

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources instigated a West Virginia Significant Cave List in 1983. The West Virginia Speleological Survey has maintained this list since then, and of the eleven possible categories, Hellhole is listed for six: Biological, Depth, Aesthetic, Geological, Length, and Recreational.

 

 

 

The bottom line is that Hellhole is one of the most significant and biologically important caves in the Eastern United States. It should be protected at all costs, and quarrying operations should not intersect it.

In short, we feel that additional work is required before the permit can be issued. In particular, because the quarry wants to expand to the east, it is of premier importance that the cave be explored and mapped before the quarry is allowed to expand toward it. In addition, the hydrological picture in the valley is incompletely understood, and a study should be completed to properly determine this picture.

To reiterate, Hellhole should be completely surveyed before the quarry is allowed to expand toward this very significant cave. The West Virginia Speleological Survey is not opposed to Greer Limestone mining within the valley but we would like to see safeguards in place to protect the cave and the federally endangered bats that it contains.

Sincerely,

 

 

William M. Balfour, P.G., Director