Cleversburg Sink Management Plan


The Mid-Atlantic Karst Conservancy (MAKC) is a non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania in 1997. The MAKC owns or leases several karst preserves in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The MAKC was established by cavers to preserve and ensure access to caves by acquiring and managing caves and karst areas for conservation, scientific study, and recreational caving.

Southampton Township owns a tract of property near Shippensburg, PA that contains one large gated cave, Cleversburg Sink Cave. The owners of the property (Southampton Township), the Franklin County Grotto (FCG) of the National Speleological Society (NSS), and the MAKC have a common goal to preserve, protect, and maintain access to this unique resource and wish to partner in the management of this property as it relates to the cave which may contain biological inhabitants such as eastern woodrats, bats, salamanders, and invertebrates and significant hydrogeological importance.


In the Pennsylvania Geolologic Survey, dated 1932, the reference is that the cave was discovered by E.M. Craighead, while hunting in the area. He was hunting with another man by the name of Frank Masland of Carlisle. Mr. Craighead was from Harrisburg.

The first recorded trip into the cave was in 1931 when the water level had dropped an estimated twenty five feet or so, and allowed access to the Giants Hall. Length of the cave at that time was estimated to be about four hundred feet. In the N.S.S. publication dated 1953, the length of the cave was listed as five hundred feet. That book in reference is bulletin fifteen, Caves of Pennsylvania by Ralph W. Stone.

The next reference is in Bulletin #4 of the Mid-Atlantic Region (MAR) series dated November 1958. Map and survey dated 1950, 1954 and 1957 by McKenna, B. Hivner, and B. Smeltzer listed the cave as nearly three thousand feet.

The owner as of 1991 was Kenneth Goshorn who was also, at that time, a township supervisor. It was in 1991 that the FCG closed the main entrance with large tree trunks and rocks and debris that was lying around the sink. At that time, the FCG also installed the bat-friendly gate and kiosk. The township purchased the cave and surrounding ground in 1996 or 1997.

The FCG met with township officials at the time of their purchase and agreed upon a continued management of the cave and gate. In September 2005, the FCG in cooperation with Southampton Township returned to the original entrance to remove the trees, rocks, and debris previously filling the entrance, and replaced that with steel beams, concrete, and heavy gauge mesh overlain with rocks, concrete, and gravel.


Cleversburg Sink Cave’s geology, biology, archaeology, paleontology, hydrology and mineralogy has been briefly described in Caves of Southern Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania, Mid-Appalachian Region Bulletin 6, edited by William B. White and published in 1958. This management plan includes a broad set of objectives regarding the
cave and management.


Researchers are required to submit a preliminary report documenting initial findings, data, and project progress no later than 30 days after access to preserve. A final report is required within one year of completion of project. A schedule of reports for longer-term projects can be established if necessary. The owners reserve the right to comment upon published papers which might reveal sensitive information, and specifically prohibit publishing reports on the internet without their approval. Any research project that involves removal of cave soils, digging, mineralogical or biological sampling must first receive the approval of the preserve owners (Southampton Township), the lessee (MAKC), and their cave management team (FCG). Any reference to the cave’s location must be approved by the FCG prior to publication (see publication policy below).


A wooden kiosk maintained by the FCG is installed outside of Cleversburg Sink Cave. The kiosk has a shingled roof to protect the information from the elements and a single-sided display. The kiosk is used to display Pennsylvania Cave Laws, information about the cave, a cave map, emergency contact information, and educational resources (including web links and regional caving groups).


The MAKC board of directors will designate the FCG as the preserve management team to oversee the property. The FCG shall report directly to the MAKC board of directors on any issues concerning Cleversburg Sink Cave.


The MAKC seeks to publicize caves only as befits our mission as stated in our bylaws and constitution: for education of the public about caves and karst resources; for published scientific studies in cave-related publications, and depending on the sensitivity of the material, on the MAKC website ( Specific cave location information, such as directions to the cave, WILL NOT be released to the general public. The MAKC will seek to minimize publicity of cave locations.

The MAKC can use the cave names in publicizing acquisitions and in its newsletter, Karst Chronicle, and other caving publications, such as the NSS News, grotto newsletters, and the MAKC website. The management plan will be available for publication in these mediums mentioned above. Any individual caver or other organization which publishes cave location information on MAKC preserves WILL LOSE ACCESS to the preserve and face prosecution for trespass upon return trips to MAKC properties. Caving organizations publishing electronic forms of their newsletters should remove reference to the cave location in the electronic format/archive and may publish trip reports to the cave, where they are not widely available to members of the general public. Specific requests for publicity concerning the cave that are not covered under this policy should be approved by the MAKC board of directors and FCG.


Pennsylvania Cave Protection Act (1990), No 1990 -133, SB 867, Signed into law Nov. 21, 1990, prohibits removal of any type of material or species and organisms from a cave: remove, deface, tamper with or otherwise disturb any natural or cultural resources or material found within any cave; kill, injure, disturb or otherwise interfere with any cave life, including any cave roosting bat, or interfere with or obstruct the free movement of any cave life into or out of any cave, or enter any cave with the intention of killing, injuring, disturbing or interfering with life forms therein, except where public health may be threatened and willfully or knowingly break, break off, crack, carve upon, write, bum, mark upon, remove or in any manner destroy, disturb, mar or harm surfaces of any cave or any natural material which may be found therein, whether attached or broken, including speleothems, speleogens and sedimentary deposits.

For the complete text of federal and state cave laws, refer to this link.


The MAKC has a lease agreement for Cleversburg Sink Cave only and has no responsibility for maintaining surface portions of the property.

Southampton Township retains all surface rights and management, and may enter into agreements with other agencies, individuals and organizations, as pertains to other aspects of the surface portion of the preserve and its management.

While on the property all rules and regulations for Southampton Park established by Southampton Township must be followed when visiting Cleversburg Sink Cave. Additional restrictions are as follows:

Park only in the designated parking area.

Be discreet when changing in and out of cave clothes.

Use of the restroom facilities for changing clothing and cleanup at the park is prohibited.

All trash must be removed from the property. Use of Southampton Park trash receptacles is prohibited. Littering is prohibited.

Cavers associated with Cleversburg Sink Cave are expected to adhere to state and federal laws along with the rules posted near the park entrance.


While membership is not required for access to Cleversburg Sink Cave, the MAKC strongly recommends that visitors be members of the MAKC and/or FCG. Membership in the NSS is also encouraged. Membership applications can be found at and 

All cave laws must be adhered to (Addendum I).

One key shall be in the possession of the owner (Southampton Township), a second by the lessee (MAKC), and a third set in the possession of the cave management team (FCG). The FCG shall be informed of all trips to the preserve. Persons or groups wishing to enter the cave shall call or e-mail ahead to notify the FCG and make arrangements with the FCG key holder(s) to sign out and obtain a key to access the cave gate. Contact information is located on the FCG website
and in the NSS Members Manual.

All cavers must be properly equipped. Visitors conduct should adhere to NSS conservation guidelines. Visitors conduct should also reflect NSS Safety and Techniques Committee recommendations for safe caving practices.

Cave diving is strictly prohibited.

Illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, alcohol and alcoholic beverage containers are not allowed in Cleversburg Sink Cave.

Use of Cleversburg Sink Cave for any kind of commercial activity, including “cave-for-pay” caving or other recreational activities is prohibited.

No modifications to the Cleversburg Sink Cave or gate, including the use of bolts or other permanent climbing aids are allowed. Exceptions may be granted by the FCG.

Human-produced trash and waste must be carried out of Cleversburg Sink Cave and properly disposed of off the property. No littering.

The collection, destruction, and/or removal of plants, animals, minerals, or historical items are prohibited.

Exceptions to any part of the access policy or management plan must be obtained in writing from the FCG in advance.

The FCG management team may conduct occasional property/cave inspections and patrols to ensure cave groups adhere to this policy.


On November 16, 2019, the MAKC Board of Directors adopted the National Speleological Society White Nose Syndrome Policy for  its managed, leased and owned preserves. The Policy was approved by the NSS Board of Governors on April 17, 2010. In part the policy reads:

“The NSS recognizes the serious nature of white-nose syndrome (WNS) and its devastating effect on bat populations in the eastern United States. The Society is committed to advancing scientific knowledge of WNS, helping to determine its cause, and limiting its impact on cave organisms. At the same time, the NSS will promote responsible study, management, and access to cave resources based on demonstrated risks and the latest available data. The NSS has a responsibility to its current members and cavers of tomorrow to do what it can to ensure that any restrictions on cave access are based on demonstrated threats, sound evidence, and recognition that risks are site- and strategy-specific.”

The entire policy is at this weblink.


The MAKC’s and FCG’s initial management will focus on these areas:

1. Continuing studies begun over decades ago on this cave.
2. Conducting cleanup trips as necessary.
3. MAKC and FCG may conduct conservation-related trips to the caves, and property, as opposed to purely recreational trips.


Maintenance of the Cleversburg Sink Cave gate and kiosk are the responsibility of the management team (FCG). Major gate repairs, gate vandalism, or a break-in to the cave will be reported to Southampton Township. Major instances such as those stated above will be corrected by the management team and repaired with cooperation of Southampton Township.

Maintenance to surface portions of the property is the responsibility of Southampton Township.


The MAKC, its board of directors, the FCG, Southampton Township, the NSS or its local chapters (grottos) or any individual members thereof will not be liable for any damages, accidents, injuries, or death on the surface or subsurface of the property (Addendum II & III). All the above named organizations will also not be liable for any damage or loss of personal property while visiting Cleversburg Sink Cave.


The MAKC promotes a policy of non-discrimination for everyone. That policy, adopted by the MAKC Board on February 16, 2019, is as follows:
The MAKC does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, granting membership, selection of project volunteers and serving on internal committees. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all board of directors, officers, agents, members, volunteers, and contributors.


The MAKC follows the National Speleological Society’s anti-harassment policy. That policy is as follows:

The National Speleological Society and the MAKC are dedicated to providing a safe and harassment-free (experience) environment for our members and attendees at our events, on social media and within our organization. We will not tolerate harassment in any form. Any attendee that violates this policy will be (told) asked to leave the event and may be subject to further disciplinary action at the discretion of the MAKC Board.
Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate comments, inappropriate sexual behavior that warrants intervention, unwanted advances and touching, invasion of personal space in a sexual manner, deliberate intimidation, and unwelcomed sexual advances. In addition, harassment includes unwanted verbal, physical, cyber, or social aggressive behavior. The action of our members and guests will be closely monitored and if an incident of harassment is reported the event staff, volunteers, or MAKC representatives will (may) take corrective action against any offenders at the time of the incident, ranging from verbal warnings to expulsion from the area and/or event and a referral of the offender to the MAKC Board for consideration of expulsion from the MAKC.

If you are being harassed or witness another person being harassed, please contact a security staff member immediately. We will be happy to assist you and provide protection for our members and attendees. We value all of our members and attendees that come to caving events and want to ensure that your safety and well-being is a top priority.


This management plan was approved by the MAKC board of directors and the FCG on August 11, 2007. The MAKC board of directors and FCG reserve the right to update, adjust, alter or amend this plan at any time without notice, with consent and approval of Southampton Township and their consultants. Changes in the management plan must be sanctioned by the FCG, MAKC, and Southampton Township and thereafter will be publicized in the MAKC newsletter and/or website at the discretion of the MAKC board of directors.