MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR
THE PRESERVE FOR
THE PERSINGER’S ENTRANCE TO BENEDICT’S CAVE
The Board of Directors of the West Virginia Cave Conservancy approved this Management Plan on April 6, 2003.
The West Virginia Cave Conservancy (WVCC), a non-profit, West Virginia corporation, has purchased approximately 5 acres that includes the Persinger’s Entrance to Benedict’s Cave. This parcel was subdivided from the old Persinger Farm, located just off of Benedict Lane, near the Greenbrier Valley Airport, approximately one mile from U.S. Route 219. At least one other parcel has been sold. The farm is in a prime development area in the booming Lewisburg, WV area, and the entire farm has been subdivided with all the other parcels for sale.
Access to all the major cave systems in Greenbrier County are potentially threatened by the rapid population growth and development of the area, and by increasing liability concerns. WVCC has a goal of maintaining access to Benedict’s Cave, and to as many of the other major systems in West Virginia as possible. Benedict’s Cave offers outstanding scientific, educational, and recreational opportunities. WVCC will manage the Persinger’s Entrance to maximize these opportunities. At the present the Benedict’s Entrance is open to caver visits by special permission from the owner.
Benedict’s Cave is listed on the Significant Cave List for length, depth, hydrology, geology, biology, history, and esthetics. The cave has two entrances, the main Benedict’s entrance that was first used to gain access to the cave and the Persinger entrance. WVACS members found the Persinger entrance from the inside during exploration of the cave. An attempt was made to dig out from the inside but was not successful. Subsequently, the entrance was located on the surface and was excavated.
Benedict’s Cave is one of the longest, most complex of a series of so called “contact cave systems” located in the historic “Great Savannah” of Greenbrier County. These contact cave systems are known for extensive passage development in the contact zone between the overlying Mississippian Greenbrier Limestone and the underlying MacCrady Shale. To date, approximately 14 miles of passage has been surveyed in Benedict’s.
Benedict’s Cave lies between two other major contact cave systems: Wades Cave to the southwest, and Maxwelton Sink Cave to the northwest. All these systems are interrelated, and connection potential exists for all of these systems. A total of 5 major contact cave systems are developed adjacent to each other in this area. A total of 77 miles have been mapped so far in all these systems.
Major stream passages in Benedict’s were formed near the limestone/shale contact, and are cutting down into the underlying red shales of the MacCrady Formation, yielding interesting passage morphology. In addition, numerous faults and folds have been documented, and the cave shows interesting passage modifications where these features are encountered.
Hydrologically, Benedict’s has several infeeder streams that travel from the surface down-dip to the master trunk stream. This stream has been dye traced to an eventual resurgence at Davis Spring, approximately 15 miles to the south on the Greenbrier River. Benedict’s Cave serves as a major in feeder to the 65 square mile Davis Spring drainage basin.
Although not highly decorated with speleothems, certain areas of the cave contain nice formations. Benedict’s contains several species of bats and invertebrates that are common to the area. The cave is not a significant hybernaculum. The cave has the potential to produce some interesting paleontological finds.
The Persinger’s Entrance is situated in roughly the center of the Persinger farm. WVCC was able to choose the acreage that suited both budget and usage concerns. A large section of the wetlands draining into the cave was included in the purchase along with a second entrance that most likely could be dug open. A common use right-of-way was included in the purchase.
The blind valley with the Persinger Entrance is ringed with many mature trees and a large portion of the property is open meadow. Included with this draft plan will be a conservation proposal from the USDA for a tree, shrub, and legume-planting program to provide soil, wetland, and wildlife protection.
The Persinger’s Entrance will be maintained in an “open” condition, and will be freely available to all responsible cavers, regardless of any organizational affiliation. If, in the future, additional information indicates that some resource needs some additional level of protection, whatever minimal controls needed to protect the resource may be instituted. In general, access to the cave will be maintained as open as practical. No release form is required for visitation. No cave-for-pay, or any other activity “for pay” is allowed.
WVCC will publicize the Persinger’s Entrance preserve only to the extent necessary to accomplish our mission goals. Publicity of details and location information will only be available within the established caving community. Publicity available to the general public will be limited to information needed to promote our educational and scientific goals. In the event of a rescue at the cave, WVCC will make every effort to minimize media coverage, especially any location information.
The Board of Directors has established a management committee to implement and monitor this management plan. The Board will be responsible for any plan changes. The management committee will report to the Board on the status of the preserve, with any recommendations for changes to this plan.
The management committee will be responsible for monitoring the following rules controlling use of the preserve:
1. No camping or fires will be permitted at this time.
2. All trash and human waste must be packed out.
3. ATV’s, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles are not permitted on the preserve.
4. Collection of rocks, flora, fauna, etc. on the surface is prohibited. Any collection underground must be done in accordance with West Virginia laws, which require a permit from the state, based in part on permission from the Board. The Board will approve such requests on an individual basis, based on scientific need.
5. No placement of permanent bolts or anchors is allowed. No other defacement of the cave is allowed.
6. Parking is allowed only in designated areas.
7. No hunting will be allowed on the property. No fireworks or firearms will be allowed on the property.
8. No commercial activity, including cave-for-pay, will be allowed on the property.
9. Visitors’ conduct should conform to National Speleological Society conservation guidelines, and to NSS Safety and Techniques Committee recommendations.
10. Visitors are expected to comply with all applicable state and federal laws.
An informational kiosk will be placed on the preserve. All necessary information, including the rules of the preserve, and information about the conservancy and the NSS will be posted on the kiosk.
As funds allow, a gravel roadway will be established from the common right-of-way to a parking area near the Persinger Entrance.
In the future, picnic shelters and camping areas may be established, if the necessary facilities are sufficiently desired by the caving community. The USDA plan allows space for the parking area and for a backpacker style, primitive camping spot that will be sheltered by evergreen trees.