Help Needed

The following “Ode to the Tumbling Creek Cavesnail” is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial page for Sunday, August 18, 2002 following the federal listing of the Tumbling Creek Cavesnail as an endangered species.


Small as a rice grain, blind as a bat

three yellow whorls

on your favorite hat.


Dining on caveslime

Since the Cretaceous,

Sliding on rocks

With a grip most tenacious.


Once you were many,

Now just a few

Lonely old cavesnail

What shall we do?


Clean up your creek

Keep the dirt in its place

‘Cause if you go, then we go-

and not at snail’s pace.


The Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) Not-For-Profit corporation and contributions are tax deductible. The long term success of efforts to protect the cave and its nationally significant fauna and other features cannot occur without help from those who care about caves and about maintaining the incredible diversity of life on earth, including life beneath the surface of the earth.


The Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation already owns 389 acres. In addition, Tom and Cathy Aley own over 2,300 acres that will ultimately pass to the foundation under their estate plans. The major remaining need is not land, but instead is funding to protect and actively manage the cave and the rest of the property. These resources cannot be protected by simply locking gates, walking away, and hoping for the best.


While there are various organizations involved with the conservation of caves and other natural features, none of these have missions or current abilities adequate to meet the needs of Tumbling Creek Cave and its ecosystem. For example, because of its fragility, the cave cannot be adequately protected and managed by an absentee owner, nor could the valuable educational programs be maintained at their current level. Neither governmental agencies nor universities have the mission or ability to adequately protect and manage the cave system for the perpetuation of its fauna and other values. As a result, the Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation was formed specifically to meet the long-term needs of this marvelous cave and its incredible fauna.


Tom and Cathy Aley live at the cave and provide a high level of protection and management for the cave and direct Foundation activities. They have done this for many years. Changes will occur with time and age, but Tumbling Creek Cave and its resources require perpetual on-site protection and management. That in turn requires a dependable source of funding such as an endowment.


In recent years the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, through its “Stewardship Ozarks” matching funds program, has assisted in developing an endowment for the Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation. Through our combined efforts we have raised over $50,000 for the endowment and are currently working on another challenge grant that will add another $20,000 to the endowment. We need help in reaching this dollar for dollar match. The Community Foundation of the Ozarks manages the endowment for the benefit of the Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation. We have a good start, but it is only a start. Our Foundation has established an endowment goal of $2 million. An endowment of at least this size should provide annual funding of $100,000 for staffing and expenses while maintaining the size of the endowment and growing it at a rate at least equal to the rate of inflation.


There are many worthwhile non-profits with programs that need funding. Why consider us? As compared with many groups we are very small so every contribution is significant and makes a difference. We already have a track record of success in the protection and management of the cave. Finally, the Aleys and the Foundation own the cave and most of the lands that are critical to the protection of the cave.


Please join us in the unique and challenging endeavor of ensuring the perpetual protection of Tumbling Creek Cave and the most diverse cave fauna known from any American cave located west of the Mississippi River.  Help us protect this designated National Natural Landmark. For further information please contact:


Tom Aley, President

Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation

1572 Aley Lane

Protem, MO  65733



Tom Aley can be reached through the Ozark Underground Laboratory at 417-785-4289

© 2009 Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation

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Protem Missouri