Providing the Standard for Excellence in the Groundwater Tracing Industry Since 1973

Fluorescent Tracer Dye Specialists in Water and Land Use Investigations

417  785  4289


Tumbling Creek
Cave Foundation

The Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) Not-For-Profit corporation formed for charitable and educational purposes. The specific purposes are to conserve Tumbling Creek Cave (TCC) and its natural environment and maintain or establish the habitat for native species and native plant and animal communities, including, but not limited to, various unique, threatened and endangered species, and to facilitate or conduct education and/or research on natural cave and karst systems and provide facilities for such education and/or research.

Tom Aley and Cathy Aley are the owners of Tumbling Creek Cave (TCC), and Tom is the President of the Ozark Underground Laboratory, Inc. (OUL) which sits atop the ridge overlying TCC.  Aley had always wanted to develop his own underground laboratory, and with the proximity of TCC, has been able to study and demonstrate the effects groundwater systems have in karst areas, especially sensitive environments like TCC. Aley has performed over 60 dye traces to delineate the recharge area for TCC which is over 9 square miles and has a discharge area of over 2,900 feet of river way.


OUL staff regularly conduct surface and cave field trips in and around Tumbling Creek Cave to educate professional and academic groups on the characteristics, vulnerabilities, and importance of karst environments and ecosystems. To learn more about our professional short course or schedule a visit, please contact the OUL at (417) 785-4289 or visit the TCCF website.



The Foundation’s mission is to conserve Tumbling Creek Cave and its natural environment,

both above and below ground, and to maintain or establish habitat for native species and native animal and plant communities.

The Foundation also facilitates and conducts educational programs and research to

protect cave and karst systems.




Tumbling Creek Cave has been protected by the Ozark Underground Laboratory and Tom and Cathy Aley since 1966. The Foundation was established in 2004 as a public charitable and educational foundation to continue and expand this protection. Over four square miles of land including all known cave passages are owned by, or will ultimately pass to, the Foundation.


Conservation accomplishments in the cave’s recharge area have included:


• Restored 135 acres of prairie, 50 acres of glade, and 50 acres of savannah.

• Repair of over 13,000 feet of erosion gullies.

• Planting of 75,000 trees in riparian areas.

• Cleanup of 32 dumps.

• Improvements to 13 (about half) of the on-site sewage systems.

• Construction of a novel bat-friendly gate on the cave.

Important cave habitat projects have been completed with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Missouri Department of Conservation, L-A-D Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and many other groups and individuals. Educational projects have included nearly 2,000 educational field trips through the cave.


Donations are gratefully accepted for on-going conservation programs or for adding to the endowment to support the long-term protection and management of the cave and associated lands. We have already raised over $70,000 for this endowment, which is managed through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. We are small and efficient, so all contributions make a big difference.

The Ozark Underground Laboratory provides facilities and assistance for cave related research.  Studies are permitted in the cave only if they will not harm the cave or its features, or interfere with other studies in progress. Members of the Laboratory staff can assist in the studies as needed. A large library of publications about cave regions is available to researchers at the Ozark Underground Laboratory.

More information can be found at the Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation website.


1572 Aley Lane        |        Protem, Missouri 65733        |        Phone  417-785-4289        |        FAX  417-785-4290

© Copyright Ozark Underground Laboratory 2016