Information on the Potential Future Sale and Conservation Activities at Indian Caverns
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) is under a conditional sales agreement, allowing the possibility that WPC can purchase the property from the owners of Indian Caverns. This agreement/potential sale is still in the very early planning stages and depends on WPC raising sufficient grant funding to support the purchase and subsequent restoration activities on the property. This sale also depends on real estate and other legal factors. WPC may not make a final decision as to whether to purchase the property until June 2017.
WPC is working with wildlife conservation experts from state and federal agencies to plan for the future of the property once it is purchased. The primary goal for the property will be to enhance the property’s value as habitat for hibernating bats. This could involve modifications inside and outside the cave to improve conditions for use by bats. Specific elements could include an open and gated entrance that would allow bats to fly in and out of the cave, while keeping the cave secure. This practice could also enhance temperature conditions in the cave, which is a key concern for the health of hibernating bats. Another potential goal for the property is to establish access to Spruce Creek for public fishing. The creek is a world-renowned trout stream with limited locations for the public to fish.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, populations of cave-hibernating bats in eastern and mid-western North America have declined by approximately 90%, or by approximately 6.7 million bats, between 2008 and 2012 due to a disease called White-nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS is caused by a fungus which grows on the skin of bats during hibernation. The goal of bat habitat enhancement work at Indian Caverns will be to create optimal conditions for bats to survive WNS and to begin rebuilding populations over time.
WPC will likely transfer the property to a public agency to manage and maintain. Public access to the cave will likely be limited after WPC purchases the property. However, WPC and other agency partners are exploring ways to make the property open to the public, such as developing a public fishing access on Spruce Creek. Limited cave tour events may also be held during times of the year when bats will not be disturbed.
Please direct any related questions or media inquiries to Carmen Bray, director of communications at the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, at 412-586-2358 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why is WPC buying Indian Caverns? WPC became interested in purchasing the property after the owners of Indian Caverns listed the property for sale. WPC believes it’s a great property and location to help address bat conservation issues and public access to Spruce Creek.
Will the public still have access to the property?
Preliminary plans are to open the property to the public so that people can have access to fishing and other recreation along Spruce Creek. Spruce Creek is a world-renowned trout stream with very limited access for the public to fish.
Will Indian Caverns close to the public once it’s sold?
Public access to the cave will likely be limited after WPC purchases the property. However, a final decision has not yet been made regarding public access to the cave. If purchased, WPC will likely transfer the property to a public agency that would make that long-term decision.
Will WPC seal the cave and close the entrance?
No. WPC’s preliminary plans are, in fact, to open the cave using a gated entrance that would allow bats to freely fly in and out of the cave, but yet keep the cave otherwise secure.
In addition to the cave, how many acres will be sold?
The cave at Indian Caverns is part of a 13-acre property that includes 1,200 feet of shoreline along Spruce Creek.
Who is the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy?
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) is a private nonprofit conservation organization that protects and restores the region’s most exceptional places. Founded in 1932, WPC has helped to establish ten state parks, conserved more than a quarter million acres of natural lands and protected or restored more than 3,000 miles of rivers and streams. Also, WPC enriches the region’s cities and towns through 130 community gardens and other green spaces that are planted with the help of about 12,000 volunteers. The Conservancy owns and operates Fallingwater, which symbolizes people living in harmony with nature. The work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 10,000 members.