Butler Cave Conservation Society

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The Butler Cave Conservation Society (BCCS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Virginia corporation dedicated to the conservation, exploration, survey, preservation, and scientific study of Virginia's longest and deepest cave systems.[1]

The BCCS currently owns three properties in Bath and Highland counties totaling 159 acres (0.64 km2), protecting the entrances to Butler Cave, Bobcat Cave, Robins Rift, and many other minor caves. As of January 2015, Butler Cave is the 40th longest cave in the United States, and the Chestnut Ridge Cave system (including Bobcat Cave) is the 30th longest cave in the US.[2]

The BCCS is an affiliated cave conservancy of the National Speleological Society.[3]


The BCCS was formed by a group of Virginia and Pennsylvania cavers in 1968, making it the first cave conservancy in the United States.[4] The idea of forming a society to protect and manage Butler Cave was formulated in July 1968 by Nevin C. and Thelma Davis, and Ike and Connie Nicholson, and the society was formed on 2 November 1968. The society then shortly leased the property containing the entrance to Butler Cave, and formally incorporated on 15 May 1970.[5]

In the mid-1960s, Butler Cave was the longest known cave in Virginia.[6] Being the longest cave in Virginia, the cave attracted much attention from recreational and exploratory cavers, and incidents of vandalism and trespassing grew.[5] After forming in 1968, BCCS established an access policy to curb prior problems of vandalism and trespassing, and the policy was announced in the NSS News in 1971.[7]

In February 1971, the BCCS began work on performing a comprehensive study of the caves and karst of the Burnsville Cove (Virginia) area, and the study was published in The NSS Bulletin. The 101-page July 1982 NSS Bulletin was completely devoted to this topic.[5][8]

In 1973, Butler Cave and Breathing Cave were designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.[9]

In 2012, the BCCS made its third land acquisition, the 10-acre (4.0 ha) property containing the entrance to Robin's Rift.

In 2015, the book The Caves of Burnsville Cove, Virginia was published by Springer. This 479-page full color volume of the "Cave and Karst Systems of the World" series was edited by William B. White, a BCCS member, and the content was written by BCCS members and affiliated friends of the BCCS.[10]

In 2015, the monograph Breathing Cave was published by the Virginia Speleological Society. This 88-page volume contains a number of chapters written by BCCS members.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BCCS Website". Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Gulden, Bob. "USA LONGEST CAVES". Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Wilson, John. "Milestones for Cave Conservancies and Institutional Conservancies of the National Speleological Society". Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Wilson, John. "Cave Conservancy Management". Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Wefer, Fred; I. Kennedy Nicholson (July 1982). "Exploration and Mapping of the Sinking Creek System". The NSS Bulletin. 44 (3): 60–61. 
  6. ^ Douglas, Henry (1964). Caves of Virginia. Falls Church, VA: Virginia Cave Survey. p. 142. LCCN 64023716. 
  7. ^ Stellmack, Jack (1971). "Butler Cave and the Butler Cave Conservation Society". NSS News. 3. 29: 30–31. 
  8. ^ "The NSS Bulletin". National Speleological Society. Archived from the original on 19 August 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Butler Cave-Breathing Cave". National Natural Landmarks. National Park Service. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  10. ^ White, William, ed. (2015). The Caves of the Burnsville Cove, Virginia. New York: Springer. p. ix. ISBN 9783319143910. 
  11. ^ Zimmerman, Robert, ed. (2015). Breathing Cave. Virginia Speleological Survey. ISBN 9781495103100. 

External links[edit]