Southern Appalachian Mountains,
Henderson and Rutherford Counties
"Bat Cave Map"
Contact: NC Geographical Survey
1612 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1612.
OWNERSHIP & ACCESS:
The Nature Conservancy has closed Bat Cave Preserve to the public for the forseeable future to protect the preserve’s infected bats and to keep White Nose Syndrome from spreading to unaffected colonies.
One of Hickory Nut Gorge’s wonders is Bat Cave Preserve, owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy since 1981. The preserve is home to the largest augen gneiss granite fissure cave in the world. The granite of these caves was formed over 500 million years ago. The cave provides habitat for rare bats, salamanders, and spiders.
The Conservancy’s management goals for the preserve include reestablishing the critically endangered Indiana bat to its former habitat. Bat Cave Preserve is infected with white-nose syndrome: a fungal disease that has wiped out millions of bats in North America (in 29 states and 5 Canadian provinces) since 2007. The fungus invades the nose, mouth and wings of bats during hibernation, when their immune systems are largely shut down. Research indicates that the fungus may lead to dehydration, causing them to wake more frequently and burn precious fat reserves. This leads to starvation.
The Conservancy has closed Bat Cave Preserve to the public for the forseeable future to protect the preserve’s infected bats and to keep the disease from spreading to unaffected colonies. Staff also avoid the area in winter months to give the bats their best chance at hibernating successfully and undistrubed through the winter.
In 1981, Margaret Flinsch began making gifts of undivided interest in the Bat Cave natural area to The Nature Conservancy. The preserve is now completely owned by The Nature Conservancy. The Flinsches had owned the property since the 1920s. Invasive species such as tree-of-heaven, multiflora rose, Japanese grass, wineberry, and Japanese honeysuckle threaten the preserve’s native plants. North Carolina Chapter staff and volunteers are battling these exotic plants through our invasive species program.
NEARBY PLACES TO VISIT:
Public Natural Areas