Mason County News
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Bat Cave Report
Vicki Ritter, 2011 Texas Nature Conservancy Steward
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 • Posted May 11, 2011

From the beautiful, small town of Mason, Texas, I can see things happening across the country via television, hear reports over the radio, and read events on printed page. There have been hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, drought, flooding, wildfires and different events that would cause one to shudder. Closer to home Mason’s emergency teams have been sent out to one place after another. One such scene was a huge fire that burned just across the river from The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve a few months ago. I held my breath knowing the devastation that could be inflicted should the flame catch the cave on fire. Most people familiar with the cave know that bat guano is almost ten feet deep throughout the bottom or floor of the cave. Bat guano was used during the Civil War for gun powder and dynamite. We don’t need a rocket scientist to explain the outcome should guano meet flame. For me, I thank all of those involved in helping control the blaze and eliminating the need for The Eckert James River bats to find shelter elsewhere.For any of you that have not visited the cave in the previous twenty years that The Nature Conservancy has held stewardship of this eight acres, I would like to invite you out for one of the grandest events on this planet. I am Vicki Ritter, and I will be The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve steward for the 2011 season. I am employed by The Nature Conservancy to safely maintain the bat cave and to educate as many people as possible on the bats that inhabit the cave during the summer months. For the past five seasons I have had the unique privilege of doing this work. I am delighted to return for season six. If the phone calls are any indication of what lies ahead for this season, it shall be a tremendous success! If you would like to join us in viewing the emergence any Thursday-Sunday night from MAY 12th-THE MIDDLE OF OCTOBER, please check the bat hotline (325-347-5970) for current emergence times. The time for the nightly flight out (emergence) is currently 8:22 P.M. This time can change up to one hour from night to night, so please try to be at the Preserve no later than 7:00 P.M. I give an educational presentation each of these evenings around 7:15 P.M. There is a 1500 foot hike up to the seating area from the parking area that will take ten to fifteen minutes, so please allow this time when scheduling your visit. It is also about a 35-40 minute drive from downtown Mason. There are no restrooms or refreshments available at the Preserve. No alcohol or pets are allowed either in the parking area or the seating area. Please bring along a flashlight since it will be dark when heading back to the parking area.On hand for the premiere showing of the season was Mr. Warren,”Dusty” Schulze, brother of the late Clinton Schulze. Clinton and Dusty grew up with the bat cave on their family’s land. Not having visited the cave in over 35 years, Dusty brought his daughter, Connie, and son, Charles (see attached photo) to rekindle memories of years gone by. We attended the bat cave performance in all of its glory. Ninety year-old Dusty Schulze took the trail up and back with such vim and vigor that it shamed my feeble attempt at it without pausing along the way to get my breath. What a truly remarkable man!! What a generous gift from his family—the ability for all persons to view this emergence for many, many years to come. Schulze family, please return soon!!I am excited that the season is now here and that Mason is the host of these most treasured creatures, The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve bats!! Come on out and join the fun....make memories that last a lifetime!! Admission to the Preserve is $5.00 for persons six years of age and older. See ya at the cave!!

Joining me at The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve for the premiere showing of the emergence of the bats for the 2011 season are the Schulze family. Ninety year old Warren “Dusty” Schulze sits on the bench at the mouth of the cave between his daughter Connie and his son Charles. Dusty is the brother of the late Clinton Schulze of Mason. Dusty told me that he had not been to visit the cave in almost 35 years. The bats were out in full form and no doubt helped our visitors to develop more wonderful and enduring memories of these nighttime creatures.

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