Management Plan for Norman Entrance to the Bone-Norman Cave System

The upper level of downstream Norman Cave. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Introduction

The West Virginia Cave Conservancy (WVCC), a non-profit West Virginia corporation, has been asked by the absentee landowner of the Norman Entrance to the Bone-Norman Cave System to assist in the management of the Norman Entrance. The Norman Entrance is located on a 27-acre parcel of land located several miles from the town of Renick in Greenbrier County, West Virginia.

History

William E. Davies, in his 1949 Caverns of West Virginia, documented Norman Cave. He only described the entrance room and a hole leading down to a stream, although certainly some of the downstream passage had been explored before publication.

Norman Cave was connected to Bone Cave in the early 1960s. From 1972 to 1978, a survey of the Bone-Norman Cave System was conducted by West Virginia Association for Cave Studies (WVACS) cavers, led by Bill and Pam Douty. Bill Douty produced a map of the 14-mile system and the following related caves: Upper Bone, Ankle Bone Mann, and Richards.

From the 1980s to the present several rescues in the cave provided a good test of the new WV Cave Law, providing legal protection for cave landowners. Vandalism in the 1990s and 2000s have taken a toll on many of the beautiful formations near the Norman entrance. Conservation project are ongoing.

The Norman Cave waterfall in high water conditions. (Photo by Cliff Lindsay)

Cave Resources

Norman Cave is on the West Virginia Speleological Survey’s Significant Cave List for the following categories: history, aesthetics, geology, biology, hydrology, and length. Although not on this list for recreation, the Bone-Norman system certainly should be. It has long been a very popular cave for recreational caving.

In part because of the cave stream flowing through the majority of the cave, it contains a wide range of biota, from isopods and insects to bats.

The total length for the Bone-Norman System is 14.12 miles long and approximately 200 feet deep. Norman Cave is formed in the Patton and Sinks Grove Limestones and its development makes for multiple levels, with a major stream running in the lowest level. Waterfalls, large walking borehole, breakdown, large formation galleries, and flowstone are found in the cave. The famous Great White Way passage is home to abundant white calcite, gypsum and aragonite formations.

The Bone-Norman Cave System can be characterized as a series of long, mazy breakdown-filled canyons and is not recommended for the novice without an experienced guide. Numerous rescues have been performed in this system over the past thirty years almost invariably because of lost, overdue parties. Due to the length of the system (a through trip can take as long as 12 hours for inexperienced parties), its complexity, and the wet conditions, it is very easy for an inexperienced group to need rescuing.

Mann Cave is also on the same private property, but it is relatively short and uninviting.

Surface Resources

The entrance is on a working farm. Make sure gates are closed for cattle.

A caver in the Great White Way. (Photo by Ryan Maurer)

Publicity Policy

Publicity of details and location information for this cave system will only be available within the established caving community.

Management

The WVCC 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 Cave Manager will report to the Board on the status of the preserve, with any recommendations for changes to this plan.

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. No placement of permanent bolts, standing ropes or anchors is allowed. No other defacement of the cave, or its contents, is allowed.
5. Parking is only available on the shoulder of Brownstown Road.
6. No hunting will be allowed on the property. No fireworks or firearms will be allowed on the property.
7. No commercial activity, including cave-for-pay, will be allowed on the property.
8. No collection of any material from the surface or the cave is allowed without proper state permits and the express written permission of the owner.
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.

The Dry Extension of Norman Cave. (Photo by Cliff Lindsay)

Access Policy

The cave will be maintained in an “open” condition to responsible, experienced cavers, regardless of any organizational affiliation. No prior permission is needed. ONLY EXPERIENCED CAVERS ARE ALLOWED IN THE CAVE.

No exchange of money is allowed to visit the cave, which includes cave-for-pay or any other activity “for pay.” In this regard, cave-for-pay is defined as a caving experience for which the participants pay a fee, and in which a profit motive is involved.

West Virginia law prohibits vandalism, collection of artifacts, breaking or defacement of formations, etc. in all caves.

Several “No Trespassing” signs are in place, and maintained, along the Brownstown Road property boundary in order to discourage inexperienced, novice cavers from entering onto the property and into the cave.

Parking

Parking is not available on the property, only roadside. Part of the eastern boundary of the property is the Brownstown Road, however, this road frontage currently does not allow vehicular access as it is blocked by trees and rock ledges. Parking is only available on the shoulder of Brownstown Road. Care must be taken so all tires are off the asphalt road surface. Do not block any gates.

Cave Manager

The Cave Manager of Norman Cave is Randy Rumer. You may contact him at for information about the cave.

A caver in a passage in the Bone-Norman Cave System. (Photo by Ed McCarthy)

Aragonite-covered formations in Norman Cave. (Photo by Nikki Fox)