(INTERNAL USE ONLY) Cave crayfish at Twin Cave in Oklahoma, United States, North America. Photo credit: © Dante Fenolio
WOPA050914_D121 (INTERNAL USE ONLY) Cave crayfish at Twin Cave in Oklahoma, United States, North America. Photo credit: © Dante Fenolio © © Dante Fenolio

Places We Protect

Arkansas

Bear Hollow Cave

This is one of only three caves in the world known to harbor the endangered cave crayfish.

Why TNC Selected This Site

Bear Hollow Cave is a karst solution tube with approximately 2,000 feet of passage, most of which is traversed by a cave stream. The cave includes both aquatic and dry habitats.

Bear Hollow Cave is one of only three caves in the world known to harbor the endangered cave crayfish (Cambarus aculabrum), making it a very high priority for conservation.

Bear Hollow Cave was donated to TNC in 1998 by Pat and John Cooper, Jr., and Cooper Communities.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

Neighbors and volunteers have shown their support for the protection of this ecological treasure by keeping watch over the cave site and participating in cleanups.

In spring 2000, a cooperative effort by The Nature Conservancy, Bella Vista Property Owners Association, Bella Vista/Benton County Sheriff Department, and Benton County Jail, resulted in the removal of 100 tons of garbage from the most critical portions of the Bear Hollow Cave recharge area. These illegal dumps included paint and other hazardous materials that leach into the groundwater, affecting not only cave creatures but everyone living downstream.

TNC staff and volunteers have also cleared trash and removed graffiti from the cave's interior, repaired the entrance gate, and improved the area around the cave entrance to prevent vehicle trespass.

What to See: Plants

Many beautiful water-loving plants can be found in seeps throughout the site, including flowering hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), giant blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), and jewel weed (Impatiens capensis).

What to See: Animals

The cave's most noteworthy resident is the endangered cave crayfish (Cambarus aculabrum). Like many other cave creatures, C. aculabrum is specially adapted to its dark surroundings, exhibiting such features as reduced eyes, lack of pigmentation, a reduced metabolic rate, delayed reproduction, and reduced egg production. The threatened Ozark cavefish (Amblyopsis rosae) is also in evidence here.

Additional creatures found in Bear Hollow Cave include the eastern pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus subflavus), big brown bat (Eptesocus fuscus), cave crickets (Ceuthophis spp.), and several species of salamanders.

Visitors are welcome to view the cave entrance and surrounding woodlands; however, the cave itself is gated to protect the extremely fragile karst environment and species. Access to the cave interior is provided during guided field trips and cleanups, which will be posted under volunteer opportunities as they are scheduled.

If you see any signs of vandalism or cave trespass during your visit, please notify the Ozark Highlands Office at 479-973-9110 or arkansas@tnc.org.