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

22 October, 2000

Permit Supervisor

Division of Environmental Protection

105 Railroad Street, Suite 301

Philippi, West Virginia 26416

Dear Sir:

I would like to add my voice to those concerned about the upcoming permit decision for extending the operation of Greer Lime, Inc. in Germany Valley. My concern is about the cave known as Hell Hole and its status as a major hibernaculum for two species of bats currently on the federal list of endangered species.

I had the opportunity to visit Hell Hole Cave several times in the 1980s, prior to Greer obtaining its lease on the property containing the entrance to the cave. As a long time member of Bat Conservation International and a life member of the National Speleological Society, it is clear to me that Hell hole is one of the most significant caves in the United States, both geographically and biologically. Disturbing or destroying this West Virginia treasure would be a tragedy. As I understand the current situation, Greer Lime has prevented qualified surveyors and scientists from completing a proper survey of the cave and its bat population and yet plans to extend its quarrying operations in areas that could easily have that effect. Iím told that surveying was interrupted in the middle of a recently discovered and as yet unexplored section of the cave.

In both the letter and the spirit of the Federal Endangered Species Act, I would hope that any extension of Greer Limeís quarrying operation would not be granted till a proper survey of Hell Hole Cave is completed by qualified, independent cave surveyors and bat biologists. To inadvertently push the Indiana and Virginia Big Eared bats further toward extinction should be avoided. I am also very concerned about the destruction of the overall environment in what may be West Virginiaís most unique cave.

Thank you for your time. I would appreciate being advised of the outcome of the permit request.

Sincerely,

Walter R. Pirie, Ph. D.

3344 Mt Zion Rd

Blacksburg, VA 24060-0730

Tel: 540-951-7604

Email: wltpirie@vt.edu