The Kentucky Karst Conservancy (KKC) was started by a group of Louisville cavers who wanted to make sure that we were preserving the caves in our area. Using the SCCI, IKC, and other conservancies as examples, we set out to set up an organization based around the principle that all cavers are welcome so long as the practice safe and preservation minded caving. Our main goals are to promote karst conservation, both above ground and below, and to promote safe caver access. If you are a caver interested in supporting conservation goals please don’t hesitate to join and help add to our vision. If you are a caver that has little or no experience, we welcome you to join us and learn more about caving.
The KKC is a Conservancy of the National Speleological Society.
The Big Bat Cave Preserve
Located in Kentucky near Custer, the Big Bat Cave Preserve is a 3 acre preserve situated over an environmentally significant karst area. The preserve also included the Mushroom Entrance to Big Bat Cave.
The surface part of the preserve is a canyon boasting a sinking creek. This creek flows down into the property where the water is deposited directly into the groundwater supply through a series of sinkholes feeding subterranean waterfalls. While these waterfalls are beautiful to see underground, they also allow the direct transmission of pollutants from litter. As part of our mission, we strive to keep this sinking creek clean.
The Mushroom Entrance connects to Big Bat Cave. Big Bat Cave is currently mapped at 13.9 miles and growing. The cave has a number of formation areas which are quite photographic. Additionally, the cave connects multiple levels of geology and is a great specimen for learning about the local geology. Both wet and dry caving are possible in this cave. A variety of different subterranean species call this cave their home including fish, crayfish, crickets, and several species of bats. Unfortunately, bat populations are suffering due to the effects of White Nose Syndrome (WNS).
Warning: Big Bat Cave is a flood cave. Check the weather before entering the cave and ensure there is no rain coming during your trip. Also, there is a rain delay where water levels in the cave may increase up to 48 hours after it has stopped raining.
All members of the KKC are owners of this property. As such they have full use access provided they agree to preserve the cave and to meet the NSS safety guidelines for caving. This property is a WILD preserve and users are responsible for their own safety in accordance with KRS guidelines regarding recreational and scientific users of caves. All persons entering the cave must sign a waiver indicating they understand they are responsible for any and all dangers encountered.
KY Cave Law
The state of Kentucky has very caver friendly laws on the books. These laws are in place to promote recreation and scientific purposes in caves and related karst features. The KKC is not an expert in law, and any information is provided for informational purposes only. If you have any questions regarding cave law you should contact a legal adviser.
Kentucky statute KRS 433.883 describes liability protection for recreational and scientific use of cave property.
Kentucky statute KRS 411.190 describes liability protection for recreational use of property.
The Rockcastle Karst Conservancy has put up this document regarding cave law.
The ESSO grotto has put up this document regarding cave law.