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What is the BCCS?

The Butler Cave Conservation Society, Incorporated, was formed in 1968 and incorporated in 1970 under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. We are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Business correspondence can be addressed to the BCCS in care of our Treasurer, Bill Royster, at 465 Karst Ridge Drive Williamsville, VA 24487.

The BCCS is designated as a Conservancy of the National Speleological Society.

On October 1, 2016, the BCCS approved a revised Mission, Vision, and Strategy for the Society. In short, our mission is

to promote the conservation, exploration, survey, and scientific study of the caves and karst in and around Burnsville Cove, Virginia.

Butler Cave was discovered in 1958 when a small crack under a ledge of limestone was dug open. Spectacular discoveries followed as miles of natural underground tunnels and chambers were found. In 1968, ten years after the discovery of the cave, the Butler Cave Conservation Society, Inc. was formed. It is a non-stock, non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation, conservation and study of caves.

Shortly after its inception, the BCCS leased the 65 acre tract of land which included the entrance to Butler Cave to protect the cave. In 1975 the BCCS purchased this property from Carl Butler. In 1989 another 84 acre tract of land was purchased surrounding the entrance of nearby Bobcat Cave, now part of the Chestnut Ridge Cave System. And in 2012 the BCCS purchased 10 acres surrounding the long-collapsed entrance to Bob Robins Rift, and began a long project to dig it back open. Nestled in a remote section of Virginia's highlands, these spectacular caves are permanently conserved for scientific, educational, and recreational uses. In 2018, the BCCS purchased a 7.8 acre parcel containing the Steamer Hole (a sinkhole) and the historic Burnsville Postmaster House; and established the Postmaster House Preserve. In 2022, the BCCS acquired the 10.85 acre "White-Wefer parcel", containing the Glacier Dig, a sinkhole in the vicinity of the Woodsall Sink.

Butler Cave had been designated by the National Park Service as a National Natural Landmark.

The Burnsville Cove Conservation Site has been designated as one of the seven "Significant Karst Areas" in Virginia by the Natural Heritage Program of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

To ensure the continued pristine nature of these caves, the entrances were gated and management plans were put into effect. Each year hundreds of hours are spent underground by volunteers who study, survey, and explore these underground laboratories.

Butler Plaque


The members and friends of the BCCS are active in cave exploration and scientific study of the karst environment.

These efforts have been rewarded. Cave surveyors have mapped more than 18 miles of passages in the Butler Cave-Sinking Creek System, making it the fifth longest cave in Virginia. The Chestnut Ridge Cave System, currently 21.26 miles long, is Virginia's third longest cave and at 808 feet, the state's second deepest. A number of scientific papers based on research in Burnsville Cove have been published, including a dedicated journal issue and a book.

Some of our accomplishments and ongoing projects include

Limestone Award

From time-to-time, the BCCS awards its highest recognition, The Limestone Award, to a BCCS Member or Friend for Outstanding Service to the Society.


In May 2008, we celebrated our "50/40" Anniversary: the 50th Anniversary of the discovery of Butler Cave and the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Society. The focus of this celebration was the discovery of Butler Cave, and many of the original explorers of the cave were able to attend the celebration. More info here.

In May 2018, we will celebrate our "50/60" Anniversary: the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Society, and the 60th anneiuversary of the discovery of Butler Cave. The focus of this celebration will be the founding of the Society.


How Can You Help?

As a volunteer organization, the BCCS is dependent upon the time, dedication, and labor of our members, friends, and volunteers to achieve our exploration and research goals. If you are interested, we always welcome experienced, dedicated cavers willing to assist with our ongoing projects—and hopefully develop and lead projects of their own. Join us for an upcoming expedition and come enjoy the beauty and mysteries of the Burnsville area.

In addition to projects for volunteers, the BCCS offers a limited number of orientation trips into Butler Cave. Visitors incur no obligation, but it is hoped that they will volunteer for additional project-oriented trips.

Financially, we are dependent on dues from members—and contributions from you—to continue the conservation and preservation of these caves. The unique character of the work of the BCCS, as well as the mystery and beauty of Virginia's underground treasures will be enriched by your generosity.