On January 13, 2012, the IKC closed on a 50.3-acre tract of property containing the upstream entrance to Upper Twin Cave. This parcel extends the IKC's landholdings in Lawrence County and helps protect the watershed of a world-class cave system, including habitat for the northern blind cavefish Amblyopsis spelaea and the blind crayfish Orconectes inermis. Several other rare invertebrates are also reported to be in the cave. Water in the cave system originates at the sinks of Mosquito Creek and continues downstream into the Shawnee Cave system in Spring Mill State Park, which includes Bronson Cave and Donaldson Cave. The system is famous for the cavefish studies conducted in the 1890s by the noted IU ichthyologist, Dr. Carl Eigenmann. Photos are also available of the property and cave.
Upper Twin cave has been on the IKC's priority list for acquisition since the mid-1990s. The cave is mostly a single stream passage with swimming required in some places. There are some potholes and drop-offs and the cave is known to flood after heavy rains. This, along with the presence of sensitive cave fauna, presents some unique management challenges. A management plan has been written, and cave access is available to responsible and experienced cavers only. This is not a cave for a novice.
Through the generosity of cavers and other interested parties -- not to mention the hard work of our membership -- many initial management goals have already been achieved. The access road has been hardened, along with a parking area. Hiking trails continue to be developed and primitive camping is available. Reforestation activities are also underway. One sinkhole dump has been cleaned up and erosion control measures have been undertaken. Although the IKC is no longer actively soliciting donations, additional money received for Shawnee Karst Preserve will be placed in a dedicated fund for cave resource stewardship and to acquire other karst properties in Indiana. Donations can be made online using our secure server at Network for Good (click the "Donate Now" button). Mail-in donations should be sent to the following address:
Indiana Karst Conservancy
P O Box 2401
Indianapolis, IN 46206-2401
Special thanks go to all the people and organizations who have already contributed to the Shawnee acquisition fund. The IKC would also like to again recognize The Nature Conservancy of Indiana, without whose assistance the purchase would not have been possible. Our management agreement with TNC is also available for download.
For cave access or management concerns, please contact:
Dr Julian Lewis, Cave Patron & Property Manager
Phone: (812) 967-7592
At this time access is being arranged through the cave patron only.