Western Cave Conservancy

The Western Cave Conservancy is a 501c3 organization dedicated to securing permanent protection for threatened caves in the western United States.


The mystery and allure of caves pull us into one of the last unexplored frontiers on earth. New caves are found every year, and new discoveries are made in caves long known. The cave environment is unique, harboring highly specialized life forms, some found only in a single cave. Many caves preserve evidence of the distant past... clues to the ancient landscape and climate, remains of animals extinct since the Ice Ages, and evidence of ancient cultures.

But, particularly in the west, where caves are relatively uncommon, this unparalleled opportunity for exploration and study is severely threatened. There are no laws to protect privately-owned caves if their owners permit harm to come to them. Population growth and urban expansion put ever-increasing pressure on this unique resource.

The WCC, in cooperation  with Peninsula Open Space Trust and Sempervirens Fund, manages karst and cave research on  the CEMEX Redwoods Tract in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

One way to do this is to purchase threatened caves directly. Another way is to manage a cave owned by a government agency or private landowner that doesn't have the resources or experience to manage it themselves. Our intent is to manage caves in a way that permits reasonable public access while protecting the resource from development and environmental degradation.

WCC presently owns and manages the 15-acre Weller Natural Preserve, the heart of which is Rippled Cave. Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, Rippled is the second most extensive cave in Amador County, California, after Black Chasm, a nearby commercial cave.

Discussions with the US Forest Service led to WCC actively managing Windeler Cave in the central Sierra Nevada. This cave is a wonderful resource that has been protected since its discovery, and WCC is proud to be helping protect it.

WCC provided personnel and management expertise in cooperation with the National Park Service during the recent restoration at Clough Cave in Sequoia National Park.

In addition to future acquisitions, WCC also seeks to protect caves through conservation easements and public education. We publish a newsletter 2-4 times yearly, full of news about threats facing caves in the west and information that empowers you to help. We have brought our message to public events such as the California Academy of Sciences’ 150th anniversary celebration, and the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History’s Cave Capers family fun day. The WCC  also assisted San Francisco Bay Area PBS TV station KQED in preparing a cave film about the CEMEX Redwood tract's cave and karst values.  In addition we have assisted preparing karst and cave-related exhibitions at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History and the San Lorenzo Valley Museum of Natural History in  2013 - 2014.

Who and When?
The Western Cave Conservancy was incorporated in 2002 by a group of dedicated cave enthusiasts. The WCC is run by an all-volunteer staff, including 12 Directors of varying scientific and caving experience, as well as an Executive Board that runs days-to-day operations. The Board of Directors is assisted by a large Advisory Board. In addition various volunteer committees take on specific work such as managing Windeler or Rippled Caves, generating promotional materials, etc.

Conservation Partners:
Land Trust Alliance
Peninsula Open Space Trust
Sempervirens Fund
Land Trust Santa Cruz
Save The Redwoods League
National Speleological Society

Contact Western Cave Conservancy

213 Elm Street
Santa Cruz, California  95060-4314
Phone: 831-421-0485


Service Area

Statewide service provider in:
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Washington

To request additions or corrections to this entry email the Administrator