Wayne Cave Preserve Expansion

Help us make “The Connection” with our new Wayne Cave Preserve Expansion!

The Connection is our exciting new property acquisition project! We have been waiting for years for the right opportunity to connect our Wayne Cave Preserve with the National Speleological Society’s Richard Blenz Nature Preserve. Now is the time and we know you are as excited as our Executive Board to see this vision come true.

Recent History

The Indiana Karst Conservancy has managed access to Wayne Cave since 1986. In 2003 we acquired the entrance to Wayne Cave and the original 20 acres above the cave. Our overall objective is to preserve the karst and watershed of this important part of the Garrison Chapel karst area. To that end, an additional 12 acres was added to the Preserve in 2014, followed by another 25 acres in 2018. The IKC is now adding another 20 acres to bring the total Wayne Cave Preserve to over 77 acres.

New Opportunities

  • This new 20-acre acquisition connects the IKC’s Wayne Cave Preserve with the National Speleological Society’s Richard Blenz Nature Preserve. This equates to over 120 acres of combined protected karst and watershed protection!
  • Protection for Sassafras Pit and Jim’s Hole caves located on the property.
  • Prevents development of the Connection property and protects the watershed that drains to Blair Hollow.
  • Provides an opportunity for a multi-mile trail system to extend the existing loop trails on both preserves.
  • Ecologically rare communities protected.

If you are ready to make history and protect The Connection’s future - DONATE HERE

Ecological Protection

From an ecological perspective, this new expansion property is judged to be high quality. Wyatt Williams, Community Ecologist with the Division of Nature Preserves, wrote this after his May 2023 visit:

“A majority of [the] Wayne Cave [Preserve expansion] is a very unique mesic upland forest. The canopy is largely dominated by Acer saccharum [Sugar Maple] and Fagus grandifolia [American beech] in spite of being relatively steep, south-facing, rocky slopes. The canopy is dense and the valley is noticeably cooler and more shaded than much of the IKC Preserve. The geology of the [expansion] matches that of the IKC property with sandstone capped ridges and upper slopes grading into limestone ravines dotted with karst features. One of the most noteworthy elements was the rich diversity and abundance of Carex sedges. We timed the visit out to get a sense of the spring wildflower display, but received a display of sedges on and around limestone and sandstone outcrops!”

The other surface feature of note on the expansion property is a sinkhole swamp/pond that actually straddles the eastern boundary of the IKC’s current Wayne Cave Preserve. Wyatt indicated:

“The sinkhole swamp is the most important part of the plant communities within the IKC property and [expansion]. It is the only sinkhole swamp known in Monroe County, and only one of nine known from the state. Of those nine, all are on private land except part of this one and one other – the protected one has no rare plants and is of lower quality…”

“Aside from the sinkhole swamp, perhaps the most important thing the [expansion property] accomplishes is connectivity of remnant natural areas. It connects the two cave properties, protects additional cave and sinkhole openings, and continues to allow the sites to have mobility of wildlife between them. In Monroe County, with Bloomington ever-growing and expanding, this is a significant accomplishment. Properties directly adjacent to the west and beyond, most owned by Pike Lumber Company, include forested ridges and valleys within this Garrison Chapel karst region and should be the target of further conservation efforts.” [Full report available here.]

More photos of The Connection are available on this separate page.

Acquiring Land in Monroe County is Not Cheap

Due to the proximity to Bloomington and the recent appreciation of land in Monroe County, this acquisition will be expensive, with a project budget of $225,000 once the land, surveying, title insurance, closing, and other direct cost are included, along with an appropriate contribution to the IKC’s Stewardship Endowment fund for long-term care. While this project is the IKC’s most expensive and ambitious to date, we are very excited to pursue this significant karst property. We will be pursuing numerous grants, but we will also need significant financial support from our members and the caving community.

We appreciate your support of this acquisition; however we have reached our fundraising goal for this project. We still encourage you to use the donation button below to help support our next acquisition.

Credit card and paypal donations can be made here...


...or a check can be made payable to the IKC. Please note Land/Cave Acquisition in memo and mail to:

Indiana Karst Conservancy
PO Box 2401
Indianapolis IN 46206

The IKC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and all donations qualify as tax deductible.

Special thanks to those donors who have contributed to this project.