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January 1998 NearNormal News



Jim Jacobs


The big news: we have some new officers, all of whom have worked very hardfor the NNG, even when they held no title. Our new President is Brian R. Braye.Brian has previously served as Secretary, and functions as co-editor of the"News". He has also chaired various committees, such as the"T-shirt/patch" committee and designed the NNG logo. Julie Angel isnow Vice President. Julie was Treasurer last year, and participates in nearlyall grotto functions. Beth Reinke has moved from Vice-President to Treasurer,and is likewise very active. Tonja Fraser is the only person who is holdingoffice for the first time. Since joining the NNG about three years ago, Tonjahas proved to be interested, enthusiastic and a very hard worker. She, like theother officers has participated in the Mammoth Cave field camps, and currentlychairs the grotto meeting program committee. I *know* that's a lot of work!Kevin Rasmus and I did it for the first few years. Norm Rogers retains hisposition as Member-at-Large (of the Executive Board).

We're in good hands!

At this juncture it's appropriate to send out a *huge* vote of thanks tooutgoing President, John Marquart. For us, Dr. Marquart was the right man inthe right position at the right time. His energy, drive, academic credentialsand networking expertise made the final chapter of the Blackball Mine gatingproject possible. I know that I've mentioned this in previous columns, but theenormity of the task--bringing together all of these various government andprivate agencies and getting them to talk to each other--just boggles the mind.Thanks again, John for all that you have done.

For the first time in the grotto's history, I won't be filling any office.Hopefully, my schedule will begin to free up in the near future, so that I'llbe able to begin participating again.

At the Annual Public meeting on FRIDAY, JANUARY 23, Steve Taylor willpresent a slide program, "Caves and Caving in the Midwest". Ofcourse, this fine program will be followed by a trip to Tobin's Pizza. BRINGPICTURES!


STEVE TAYLOR describes an exploring trip through a Florida karst area.

BETH REINKE reports on a presentation that she did for the younger set.

JO SCHAPER gives us advice on not disturbing bats during their hibernation.


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NNG MINUTES- 12/12/97


In attendance: Julie Angel, Brian Braye, Dennis Campbell, Tonja Fraser, JohnMarquart, Scott Meeker, Earl Neller, Beth Reinke, John Schirle, Tim Sickbert,Lara Storm, Len Storm, Steve Taylor, Phil Von De Bur and John Walther. Themeeting was called to order by president John Marquart at 7:11 pm.


A correction was made to the minutes of the October 1997 meeting as printedin the November 1997 Near Normal News. Although not present at the October 1997meeting, NNG participants at the Oct Mammoth restoration weekend included NormRogers, Chris Dinesen, Greg Phillips and Beth Reinke. The corrected minuteswere approved. Treasurer, Julie Angel reported a current balance of $351.74 inthe NNG account. Julie noted that NNG patch sales comprise $135 of the totalbalance and a $40 bill for our PO box rental still needs to be paid. Thetreasurer's report was accepted. Julie also reminded us that dues for 1998 arenow being accepted and noted that those who have joined the grotto since Aug 1,1997 are not required to pay dues for 1998. A motion was made and accepted toreimburse the treasurer for the costs incurred to copy the treasurer's reportsdistributed at the monthly meetings.


The election of officers for 1998 took place. Ballot counters, Len and LaraStorm, reported a unanimous decision in favor of the proposed slate. 1998officers are: President - Brian Braye, Vice President - Julie Angel, Secretary- Tonja Fraser, Treasurer - Beth Reinke, Member at Large - Norm Rogers.

John Marquart reminded us that one of the first things the new executivecommittee would be doing is reviewing the NNG by-laws for changes/additions.

No additional information was available on the vertical training coursebeing planned for the spring of 1998 (Rich Bell is coordinating this). Noadditional information on legal advice regarding the waiver of liability formswas available (Mark Belding is looking into this).


Julie Angel suggested that the grotto print up generic business cards foruse by members in their interactions with the public. She circulated a cardbeing used by the Mark Twain Grotto. Brian Braye will look into printing costs.

It was suggested that it may be time for another run of NNGT-shirts/Sweat-shirts. Brian Braye will look into the cost/logistics of this.

Brian Braye reported that he had several plaster casts (from Don Coons) of acougar track found in the Black Ball Mine. They are for sale at $5 each.

Steve Taylor reported that the comment period for placing the IL CaveAmphipod on the endangered species list was over. He also noted that he tookthe photo accompanying the Pantagraph article about the amphipod, but that thephoto wasn't of the amphipod in question.

Tonja Fraser asked for the membership's help in coming up with programideas.

Brian Braye reported that the meeting dates for 1998 have been set andconfirmed. The November 1998 meeting will be held in December due to conflictswith the Thanksgiving holiday. It was suggested that we send a "ThankYou/Christmas Card" to the bank for letting us use their meetingfacilities. Brian will take care of this.


Steve Taylor reported on a trip to Mystery Cave, MO - 16 people, two groups,cold! Julie Angel reported on a trip to Ralls County, MO with several membersof the Mark Twain grotto - potential virgin cave, neat fossils, verticalpractice. Lara Storm reported on a CRF trip in KY - a trip in the Austinentrance and the 25 year reunion of the Mammoth Cave connection team! JulieAngel and Steve Taylor reported on the December meeting of the IL Karst WorkingGroup. One of the main topics of discussion at the meeting was a recentaccident at IL caverns and the need for more formal call-out procedures there.Julie Angel reported on a recent incident where a fireman resuscitated a bat ata house fire. John Walther reported on an early Nov trip to IL Caverns - sawbats in the lunchroom. Dennis Campbell reported on two "rookie" tripsto IL Caverns. Beth Reinke reported on a cave talk she gave to a 5th gradeclass in Carmel, CA.


Steve Taylor reported that the Fall issue of IL Audubon Magazine has severalinteresting articles on IL caves. He circulated a copy of the magazine forthose interested in obtaining a copy.

Tonja Fraser and Lara Storm will be caving with Don Coons in Hawaii (Hiloarea) in late Dec/early Jan.

Articles and photos for the January Near Normal News are due Friday Jan 9,1998.

Members requested information on the Mammoth Cave restoration weekend plannedfor Jan 30-Feb 2. Norm Rogers is the contact person for this.

Tonja Fraser asked if anyone had received a letter regarding somethingcalled "resource watch" or "cave watch". No one present hadreceived a letter.

The next meeting will be Friday January 23rd. This will be our annual"public meeting". Steve Taylor will present the program. Brian Braye,Jim Jacobs and Julie Angel will coordinate publicity for the meeting. TonjaFraser and Beth Reinke will organize refreshments.

It was suggested that members make use of the web site in announcing trips.Announcements can be emailed to Len Storm (cfles@eiu.edu) and he will postthem. It was also suggested that the web page address be listed in each issueof the Near Normal News.

Beth Reinke passed out updated member rosters to those who needed one.

The business meeting was adjourned at 8:11 pm.

We enjoyed cake provided by Julie Angel to thank John for his 2 years ofservice as President. Dennis Campbell presented the program: a slide show andtalk about a caving expedition to New Guinea.

Respectfully submitted,

Beth Reinke, Treasurer-elect

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by Steve Taylor

In December of 1997, I had thegood fortune to be invited to spend ten days of the season's holiday with myfather at his friend's cabin, located in an isolated enclave of private landwithin the sprawling acreage of northern Florida's St. Marks National WildlifeRefuge. On the agenda were bug collecting (I had secured the appropriate permitin advance), bird watching, canoeing, hiking, and visiting springs. Because ofthe shallowness of the aquifer and the proximity to sea level (less than 25feet throughout the whole area), there are no air filled caves in this area (asfar as I know, which is not very far). But the surface karst (epikarst) is welldeveloped in two layers of limestone, and the area sports a number of springsand some subaqueous caves which are well known

in cave diving circles.

I left Chicago-O'Hare amidswirling snow flurries, landing in Panama City, Florida under overcast skies.The following day, we drove to the St. Marks NWR headquarters to pick up mycollecting permit, and do some bird watching. While at the refuge headquarters,I picked up a few topo maps of the area. It was a miserable cold, rainy day,thankfully the worst of the whole trip. A few birds could be seen hunkered downin the salt marshes - Great Egret, White Ibis, and Great and Little BlueHerons. That evening in the cabin, I poured over the newly acquired topo maps,entering the coordinates of several springs into the GPS (global positioningsystem) receiver I had brought along.

The next day (Christmas) wasmuch nicer, and we canoed a segment of

the Wakulla River. This river isof speleological interest, as it receives nearly all of its water from WakullaSpring - a huge rise pool which puts out an average of 391 cubic feet of waterper second (max outflow 1910 cfs). This, of course, results in a beautifullyfloatable (albeit rather short) river, peppered with a variety of waterfowl,fish, gators, and an occasional manatee (the latter, unfortunately, was notseen on this trip). Along the way, we canoed up a side channel to a spring thatwas not indicated on the top map, but which released enough water for us toturn the canoe around in the rise pool. This was the first of several springsencountered that smelled of rotten eggs - an indication that the water wasladened with sulfates (and likely also high levels of chloride) and probablycame up from fairly deep beneath the ground. Unlike Wakulla Spring, which isthe resurgence of a shallow aquifer and is home to many large and beautifulfish, there were only a few guppy-sized fish at this spring. We speculated thatperhaps low oxygen levels, high(ish) temperatures and/or undesirable chemicalcharacteristics excluded most

animals from this habitat.

The next day featured a surfacehike, in search of a spring that my father had unsuccessfully tried to find afew days before my arrival. We had sought more information at the refugeheadquarters and at a state park, and were now equipped with a variety ofmisinformation: "You can't miss it, just follow the blue trail blazes onthe trees," said one refuge employee. A state park employee, who hadconsiderable canoeing experience, indicated that she had spotted the largest'gator she'd ever seen at the spring (Shepherd Spring), and that it only hadone eye. She had canoed up towards the spring from Shepherd Spring Creek (fromits' mouth in a saltwater bay), then (aided by someone who already knew theroute) bushwhacked up to the spring. Armed with all of this info, and the gpsreceiver, we tromped through the dry upland (relatively, we were only 15 ftabove sea level) woods for several hours without seeing any blue blazes orgators. We found a swamp, and a beautiful palm forest, but no spring.

Losing hope and stamina, we gaveup and began the hike back. Shortly, we noticed a small trail leading offthrough the underbrush. Perhaps twenty yards down the trial we found an orangeblaze on a tree, then a couple of blue blazes, then the spring. This spring,with a rise pool some 25 feet across, was quite beautiful, and sported avariety of fish, easily seen through the clear waters. Chain Pickerel, Bass,Sunfish, and even a Blue Crab (which must have wandered upstream from the bay).Fortunately, we didn't see the one-eyed monster-gator. Among other things, Imarveled at the fact that such a large spring (with a sizable creek flowingfrom it) was not indicated on the topo map. In Illinois, this spring wouldprobably warrant it's own state park!

The next day, cold and overcast,we went up to Wakulla Spring (now a state park) to view the rise pool. A steadyrain accompanied us, obscuring our view of the animal life underwater. Still,the immensity of the spring was a pleasure to behold. The shops in the parkwere a disappointment, as they carried very little stuff that actually told youanything about the spring. Instead they were stocked with all sorts of tackyplastic tourist crap. There was no interpretive center to speak of. I did seean outdated map of the cave from which the spring arises. The cave was surveyedby cave divers, including such notables as Bill Stone, Noal Sloan, and the lateSheck Exley. There was also a Pleistocene pachyderm leg bone, but not anyinformation about it or the other discoveries made in the cave.

We left the park in the rain,and drove to a large sinkhole I'd seen on the topo map. 'Cherokee Sink' was alarge sinkhole pond. Unlike sinkhole ponds in the Midwest, this one was notformed by the plugging of a sinkhole, but existed because it was deep enough togo down to the water table (close to sea level). This was one of the few spotsI saw a natural outcropping of limestone. A variety of beer cans and otherdebris gave evidence that this spot sees a lot of Friday/Saturday night action.

We left the pleasure hole thatis Cherokee Sink, and drove over to check out two springs marked on the topmaps. Newport Spring was rather large (the rise pool being some 30-40 feetacross), but was little more than an ugly roadside attraction with more thanits share of garbage.

Brewer Spring, located just downthe road from Newport Spring, was much more interesting. A trail back into thewoods lead to an odiferous small spring. There must be a lot of calcite insolution, because all of the stream bottom, and any debris which had falleninto it (leaves, etc.) was covered with a thin, white encrustation. The watersmelled strongly of sulfate, and was warm enough to be bath water. A fewguppy-sized fish darted about along the margins of the stream, but little otherlife was seen. We wandered down the springbrook, and found several more ventswith the warm, strong-smelling water flowing out. It was a really pretty littlespot.

The following day, we canoed outinto the saltwater bay by the town of Spring Creek, in search of the fabledSpring Creek Spring. It was a cold morning, with frost on the ground. Right atthe edge of the bay was a fierce upwelling, the primary vent of the eight ventswhich comprise Spring Creek Spring. Though the rest of the bay was quiteplacid, the current here was incredible. It was only with the most determined ofpaddling that we were able to get 'upstream' into the middle of the rise pool.It was still early in the day, and steam was rising off of the resurgence. Westopped paddling and were quickly swept away from the vent. Then we paddled upseveral canals which lead back into the town of Spring Creek, discoveringseveral of the other resurgences. This spring (also not marked on the topomap!) is Florida's largest, averaging a whopping 2000 cubic feet per second!! Iwas impressed!

The bay by Spring Creek Spring leadsup into a salt marsh, and eventually to Shepherd Spring Creek. We paddledcarefully among oyster bars (it was low tide, and we were often in only a fewinches of water) up to the creek, watching an otter catch fish along the way.We worked our way up Shepherd Spring Creek till it got very narrow. After twoportages, we gave up the 'by sea' approach and tied off the canoe. Sloggingthrough swampy bottomlands, we finally rediscovered Shepherd Spring itself (butagain, no one-eyed alligator). Pompous and smug from our success, we trompedback to our canoe (now floating high because of the rising tide), and retracedour route.

Brewer and Newport springs flowinto the St. Marks River, and that river was the focus of our attentions thenext day. The interesting karst features of the St. Marks River, unfortunately,lay in the next county to the north, outside of the cruising range of ouradventures. There, the St. Marks disappears beneath the earth for about a milebefore rising again to the surface through a series of resurgences in thevicinity of Natural Bridge Spring (averaging 109 cubic feet per second). Italso receives a large quantity of water from St. Marks Spring (averaging 517cubic feet per second). I didn't get to see any of this stuff, and don't quiteunderstand the relationships among the springs and the resurgence. Knowledge ofthe above features gave the river a nice karsty feeling, which pleased me, andwe paddled happily up the river. Several places along the river we saw lowoutcroppings of limestone bedrock, and one spot was totally bedrock bottomed.We had the good fortune to come within 5 feet of a young otter along the shore.After canoeing, we spent the rest of the day driving through rural black slumsand rich white beach-front mansions - depressing statements on the humancondition. The next day we canoed a creek which I cannot justify taking about,as it had no karst related features, and the following day I flew back toChicago. My bird list for the vaction was 35 species long, and I got some ofthe bugs I was looking for as well. I saw lots of things unrelated to caving,including people, boats, and one incredible sunset. While none of this trip wasreally caving, it WAS karst related. I learned a lot about low elevation karst,and can recommend similar adventures to other cavers.

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Jo Schaper

[First published in "The Meramec Caver"]


Just as sure as November brings woods' travelers and hunters in blaze orangein these parts, the Batphone has been ringing at the Schaper/Vale house. (Ijust wonder what it is like at BCI this time of year.) And with each call comesmore information dispersed to some inquiring mind. It goes with the territorywhen your husband is known statewide for his bat programs.

The first call came from Matt Marciano. A couple Sundays ago, he called toreport a cave on private land where he had found an increased number ofcolonial bats over previous trips he had made there during the last sevenyears. He described the bats as being in a part of the cave where they werepreviously unknown, and in several distinct groups, not just a bat here orthere. He noted that he and his party had left the cave upon discovering them,and a day later was now in a quandary over what to do.

"I feel like I should tell somebody, but if I do, the cave will probablybe closed. It's a really neat cave," he said, or words to that effect.

"Why don't you call the landowner first," I suggested. "Bytalking with the landowner, you can tell him something about his cave, andexpress your concerns as a caver, that, while you wouldn't mind a seasonalclosure, you don't want to see the cave locked up year round. That way, there'sa chance that everybody wins--the bats, the cavers, the landowner."

Matt seemed dubious, but he took the phone number we gave him. "I'llthink about it," he said. Twenty five minutes later, he called back.

"Hey, Jo, Mr. X is a really nice guy. He listened to me and took myname and number. I told him that the cavers could help if he needed informationor ideas about how to manage his caves. He seemed really glad that I called,and especially glad that the bats were coming back if in the kinds of numbers Itold him about. He said he was going to have one of his people look into thecave, and check out what I told him."

Bingo! While not every landowner is as conservation minded or friendly asMr. X, most landowners who have caves of any significance are aware that theyare there, and have some interest in them. Cavers with a little bit of tact,patience, and diplomacy can draw these landowners out, show them that we haveas much concern about their caves as they do, and maybe even get a cave tripand a new friend out of the process.

This doesn't happen by knocking on doors and treating the landowner only asa person who happens to own the cave, with access your only objective. If youcan show them, by whatever means, that you are enthusiastic about theconservation of caves generally, and his or her cave as well, you may well beinvited to take a look at their treasure. That is the great prize of developinggood landowner tactics, because you will have won the trust of the landowner,and not attempted to gain entry as a right, but as a privilege.

The next call came from someone who apparently knows Eugene, and knows ofhis expertise with bats, though we racked our brains to put a face to the name,this caver has a new project cave, which he is mapping. He noticed hibernatingbats, and wanted to know what kind they were, and should he put off his mappingproject until spring.

Unfortunately there was little we could tell from a secondhand description.No, the clusters weren't tightly packed, and the only characteristic he couldrelate was that the bats were brown--not terribly edifying, since most cavebats are some shade of brown. He could tell they weren't pipistrelles (no pinkwingbones) but that was it. Positive myotine bat identification is based ondifferences which generally require handling the bats (not a good idea at anytime).

We were able to tell him that unless the clusters were tightly packed, itwas unlikely that they were endangered species. Little browns have a curioushibernating pattern where individuals are close (within a few inches) butgenerally not piled one on each other two or three deep unless it is anabnormally cold or drafty cave. Endangered bats also tend to roost high inceiling pockets, if possible.

We did relate a few things to minimize disturbance to hibernating bats:--Don't look directly at them with a white light. Use a red filter if for somereason you feel compelled to examine them. Better yet, ignore them as much asyou can. --Keep sources of heat (like carbides) several feet away. Hibernatingbats are sensitive to changes in air temperature. --Speak in low tones aroundthem. Don't whisper, or use a lot of "s" words. The hissing of eithercontinues upward into the ultrasonic. --Don't jangle keys, or make other metalon metal noises around them. A sure way to wake, and just thoroughly annoybats. It's like squeaky chalk on a blackboard to them. --The best advice is:Don't linger in the area where bats are hibernating, but move through asquietly and quickly as you can. If you find tightly clustered bats in a cavewhere they are not known to be, back out at once, and notify the landowner,letting him or her know that the Conservation Department, (or whichever is yourstate wildlife agency) might be interested in knowing this as well.

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by Beth Reinke


On a recent business trip, I had the opportunity to talk to my Godson's 5thgrade class at Robert Louis Stevenson grade school in Carmel, CA about cavingand cave conservation. Julie Angel graciously lent me the slides she's used forsimilar talks.

Since a few years have passed since I've been in sync with 5th-graders, Iwasn't quite sure what to expect. I asked for a few tips from my dad who is aretired teacher and school administrator. His main piece of advice: "Don'task open-ended questions, you'll open the flood-gates and never be able to geta word in! Ask show-of -hand questions instead." I've always known my dadwas a wise man!

After extricating myself from my first ill-advised open-ended question (!),we viewed the slides and talked about where caves are found, how caves areformed, cave entrances, cave passages, cave formations, cave wildlife and caveconservation. They were particularly interested in the cave formation andanimal pictures. With lots of interaction with the kids, the hour flew by beforeI knew it!

In summary, I really enjoyed the experience and would recommend a return to5th grade anytime!


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Beth Reinke


Just a reminder that we're now accepting dues for 1998! Dues are $10.00 peryear ($5.00 for students), quite a bargain! The primary use of the dues is tocover the cost of producing our top-quality newsletter, the Near Normal News.Please note that those who have joined the grotto since August 1, 1997, are notrequired to pay dues for 1998. Checks should be made payable to "NearNormal Grotto" and sent to Beth Reinke, 612 Creve Coeur Dr, Champaign, IL61821. Or you can pay at the next meeting. Thanks!

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