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National Park Service & Geocaching


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Ever since I've been caching I've read that geocaching is banned by the National Park Service, and/or banned in national parks. Was there ever a *specific* ruling or NPS regualtion about geocaching? Who has the final say regarding each park - the park manager, or the head ranger for that park, or someone else?

 

Is geocaching considered by the NPS to be an activity that adversely impacts the environment? If so, who made that decision?

 

I keep hearing that its not allowed, but I've never actually seen where it was prohibited (nor am I certain I even know the right place to look)

 

My apologies if all this has been discussed before, Markwell me if you can.

 

Please note I'm looking for specific regulations and/or rulings, not opinions.

 

I'm also interested in any specific discussions that geocachers or Groundspeak might have had with NPS administrators. Anything that imposes regulations on geocaching in NPS administered areas is what I'm looking for. Are there any ongoing negotiations to open NPS areas to geocachers?

 

Thanks!

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Here is the most commonly quoted rule by the NPS Use of Parks. There is no specific mention of geocaching. Each individual park may have seperate rules regarding geocaching, so it's always best to check with the specific park. Any rule that requires permission is not acceptable though.

 

Personally, I think 'We the people' own all the public areas in our country and can do whatever we want within the law. It's not illegal to geocache, therefore it should be okay to do it anywhere on public property. There may be regulations in certain areas, but the idea of requiring permission goes beyond the scope of the government's allowed power.

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There is a memo issued by the NPS that bans caching. It's been my experience that park managers do have some flexibility in allowing caches as evidenced by a few caches placed with permission that have been brought up in the forums.

 

The search function doesn't work on my work so I can't even attempt a search for the memo.

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Here is the most commonly quoted rule by the NPS Use of Parks. There is no specific mention of geocaching. Each individual park may have seperate rules regarding geocaching, so it's always best to check with the specific park. Any rule that requires permission is not acceptable though.

 

Personally, I think 'We the people' own all the public areas in our country and can do whatever we want within the law. It's not illegal to geocache, therefore it should be okay to do it anywhere on public property. There may be regulations in certain areas, but the idea of requiring permission goes beyond the scope of the government's allowed power.

 

National Park Service

U.S. Department of the Interior

 

Superintendent’s Compendium

Of Designations, Closures, Permit Requirements and Other Restrictions Imposed Under Discretionary Authority.

 

"Hitchhiking is prohibited within all areas of the park." They can prohibit hitchhiking.............they can prohibit geocaching. "Recreational activities that damage or harm natural, cultural, or archeological resources are prohibited. Examples include geocaching, orienteering, bungee jumping, rock climbing, and riding bicycles off paved surfaces." There are rules. No one said that you had to follow them, but there are rules. Lots of natural areas and parks prohibit leaving designated hiking trails and paths.........not much cache hiding there, eh? ;)B):D

Edited by Team Cotati
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Here is the most commonly quoted rule by the NPS Use of Parks. There is no specific mention of geocaching. Each individual park may have seperate rules regarding geocaching, so it's always best to check with the specific park. Any rule that requires permission is not acceptable though.

 

Personally, I think 'We the people' own all the public areas in our country and can do whatever we want within the law. It's not illegal to geocache, therefore it should be okay to do it anywhere on public property. There may be regulations in certain areas, but the idea of requiring permission goes beyond the scope of the government's allowed power.

 

They can prohibit hitchhiking.............they can prohibit geocaching. "Recreational activities that damage or harm natural, cultural, or archeological resources are prohibited. Examples include geocaching, orienteering, bungee jumping, rock climbing, and riding bicycles off paved surfaces." ;)B):D

 

Just because they do it doesn't make it right

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As a practical matter, one can look at the actions of NPS officials. I can think of several real life examples that fit this pattern:

 

Local ranger gives permission for geocache in NPS-managed area. Reviewer publishes cache based on assurance of adequate permission. Higher-up official within NPS reverses the decision based on national policy, and the cache is archived.

 

Or how about all the caches removed by NPS rangers following the issuance of the bulletin referenced above?

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Here is the most commonly quoted rule by the NPS Use of Parks. There is no specific mention of geocaching. Each individual park may have seperate rules regarding geocaching, so it's always best to check with the specific park. Any rule that requires permission is not acceptable though.

 

Personally, I think 'We the people' own all the public areas in our country and can do whatever we want within the law. It's not illegal to geocache, therefore it should be okay to do it anywhere on public property. There may be regulations in certain areas, but the idea of requiring permission goes beyond the scope of the government's allowed power.

 

They can prohibit hitchhiking.............they can prohibit geocaching. "Recreational activities that damage or harm natural, cultural, or archeological resources are prohibited. Examples include geocaching, orienteering, bungee jumping, rock climbing, and riding bicycles off paved surfaces." ;)B):D

 

Just because they do it doesn't make it right

 

Have to disagree with you there, R-o-N. They are charged with maintaining and preserving natural resources, and preventing damage to such resources. The activities listed above, while usually participated in by conservation/LNT minded individuals, all have an adverse impact on the environment. Rock climbing involves anchor points hammered into rock faces, bicycling off-road--especially in groups--has a bad reputation for tearing up the path the bikes follow. Geocaching and orienteering both bring people to a concentrated point, frequently by the same path. It can take as little as seven trips across an area to compact the soil enough that vegetation cannot grow. As such, these activities are unfortunately detrimental to the parks, so they are fully right in not allowing them.

 

(going to go look for my nomex underwear now..)

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The few Park Service employees I know in this area all cite a memo from 2001 they saw that bans it. The concern is that ALL caches are buried and this could "threaten" historic or archelogic areas. I've never actually been shown the memo. I know 2 or 3 parks have a policy (very strict) that does allow caches.

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My point is that you shouldn't have to ask for permission to use OUR land in a legal manner. If they want to require a permit to place a cache, fine, I don't mind. You have to pay a day use fee to use some NPs and that is perfectly within reason.

 

I had a cache removed from a public municipal park because a group that was cleaning out invasive blackberry's felt it didn't belong there and was garbage (even though it was clearly marked on the container). When I spoke with the manager of the park, he felt that it was harming the area. The cache was placed within 2 feet of the trail behind some blackberry's. Was he worried I was going to harm the invasive blackberry's that they were there to remove?

 

Sorry, I just don't follow the rationale. I've yet to hear anyone give me a decent reason why I should care if geocachers create a 50 foot trail through the grass in a 500 acre park. Help me understand again what is being harmed..

 

Thanks!

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Have to disagree with you there, R-o-N. They are charged with maintaining and preserving natural resources, and preventing damage to such resources. The activities listed above, while usually participated in by conservation/LNT minded individuals, all have an adverse impact on the environment. Rock climbing involves anchor points hammered into rock faces, bicycling off-road--especially in groups--has a bad reputation for tearing up the path the bikes follow. Geocaching and orienteering both bring people to a concentrated point, frequently by the same path. It can take as little as seven trips across an area to compact the soil enough that vegetation cannot grow. As such, these activities are unfortunately detrimental to the parks, so they are fully right in not allowing them.

 

(going to go look for my nomex underwear now..)

Long term park service employees will tell you that years ago they were all about serving the public and keeping the park environment safe for both humans and natural habitat. These days the NPS has changed into a protect, preserve and PROHIBIT agency. Humans are basically out of the equation as our every movement is seen as harmful. My 2 cents worth anyway. Seems we could balance things a bit better.

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Have to disagree with you there, R-o-N. They are charged with maintaining and preserving natural resources, and preventing damage to such resources. The activities listed above, while usually participated in by conservation/LNT minded individuals, all have an adverse impact on the environment. Rock climbing involves anchor points hammered into rock faces, bicycling off-road--especially in groups--has a bad reputation for tearing up the path the bikes follow. Geocaching and orienteering both bring people to a concentrated point, frequently by the same path. It can take as little as seven trips across an area to compact the soil enough that vegetation cannot grow. As such, these activities are unfortunately detrimental to the parks, so they are fully right in not allowing them.

 

(going to go look for my nomex underwear now..)

Long term park service employees will tell you that years ago they were all about serving the public and keeping the park environment safe for both humans and natural habitat. These days the NPS has changed into a protect, preserve and PROHIBIT agency. Humans are basically out of the equation as our every movement is seen as harmful. My 2 cents worth anyway. Seems we could balance things a bit better.

 

Extreme Environmentalists don't understand balance. Is it really better to lay off 3000 forest workers to save an owl? I guess it just depends on how you view life. If you watch this thread long enough, you will eventually see someone compare human beings to other forms of life in an equal manner. I don't believe we are equal to anything on the planet and that everything is for our use. Does this mean we destroy everything? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Does this mean we get our panties in a wrinkle over a little trail in the woods? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

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Long term park service employees will tell you that years ago they were all about serving the public and keeping the park environment safe for both humans and natural habitat. These days the NPS has changed into a protect, preserve and PROHIBIT agency. Humans are basically out of the equation as our every movement is seen as harmful. My 2 cents worth anyway. Seems we could balance things a bit better.

 

I wouldn't go that far. I suspect in many area the park service employees would welcome geocaching as way to get more visitors to the less crowded of the parks. What is probably the case is that there is some law or regulation that requires an Enviromental Impact Study before allowing a new activity in the park. Maybe not every cache would require a study but each park that wanted to allow geocaching would need one and the money for this is just not there given the Federal deficit.

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Long term park service employees will tell you that years ago they were all about serving the public and keeping the park environment safe for both humans and natural habitat. These days the NPS has changed into a protect, preserve and PROHIBIT agency. Humans are basically out of the equation as our every movement is seen as harmful. My 2 cents worth anyway. Seems we could balance things a bit better.

 

I wouldn't go that far. I suspect in many area the park service employees would welcome geocaching as way to get more visitors to the less crowded of the parks. What is probably the case is that there is some law or regulation that requires an Enviromental Impact Study before allowing a new activity in the park. Maybe not every cache would require a study but each park that wanted to allow geocaching would need one and the money for this is just not there given the Federal deficit.

 

Environmental Impact Study -- God help us all......

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Long term park service employees will tell you that years ago they were all about serving the public and keeping the park environment safe for both humans and natural habitat. These days the NPS has changed into a protect, preserve and PROHIBIT agency. Humans are basically out of the equation as our every movement is seen as harmful. My 2 cents worth anyway. Seems we could balance things a bit better.

 

I wouldn't go that far. I suspect in many area the park service employees would welcome geocaching as way to get more visitors to the less crowded of the parks. What is probably the case is that there is some law or regulation that requires an Enviromental Impact Study before allowing a new activity in the park. Maybe not every cache would require a study but each park that wanted to allow geocaching would need one and the money for this is just not there given the Federal deficit.

****clarification****

by they - I meant the NPS as a government agency - not specific employees

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Extreme Environmentalists don't understand balance. Is it really better to lay off 3000 forest workers to save an owl? I guess it just depends on how you view life. If you watch this thread long enough, you will eventually see someone compare human beings to other forms of life in an equal manner. I don't believe we are equal to anything on the planet and that everything is for our use. Does this mean we destroy everything? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Does this mean we get our panties in a wrinkle over a little trail in the woods? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

 

Speaking of extreme... I regularly see the impact in areas where individuals believe they have the 'right' to go anywhere and everywhere they wish regardless of restrictions, just because they are on public lands. Your 'little trail in the woods' is very often one of dozens of braided, rutted tracks eroding into gullies.

 

Some areas can handle impact, some cannot. It's the job of land managers to determine how much and what sorts of use is appropriate, and we as the public employ them to use their education and training to do so. Given the choice between your 'it's own land, anything goes' attitude and regulations that ensure that my recreational experience in 10 or 20 years will be the same or even better than it is today, the choice is obvious.

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I heard rumors from a few people the reason they don't want caches in National Parks is because of a misunderstanding the way caches are placed.

 

but also I remember awhile back someone mentioned in the forums here about some caches placed in a national park east of california.

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Extreme Environmentalists don't understand balance. Is it really better to lay off 3000 forest workers to save an owl? I guess it just depends on how you view life. If you watch this thread long enough, you will eventually see someone compare human beings to other forms of life in an equal manner. I don't believe we are equal to anything on the planet and that everything is for our use. Does this mean we destroy everything? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Does this mean we get our panties in a wrinkle over a little trail in the woods? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

 

Speaking of extreme... I regularly see the impact in areas where individuals believe they have the 'right' to go anywhere and everywhere they wish regardless of restrictions, just because they are on public lands. Your 'little trail in the woods' is very often one of dozens of braided, rutted tracks eroding into gullies.

 

Some areas can handle impact, some cannot. It's the job of land managers to determine how much and what sorts of use is appropriate, and we as the public employ them to use their education and training to do so. Given the choice between your 'it's own land, anything goes' attitude and regulations that ensure that my recreational experience in 10 or 20 years will be the same or even better than it is today, the choice is obvious.

 

I think you are extremely overstating the impact of geocaching. In 10 to 20 years, you'll probably have more trails to enjoy. I'm still waiting for an explanation as to who/what we are hurting when we create a 50 foot trail in a 500 acre park. Any takers?

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As a practical matter, one can look at the actions of NPS officials. I can think of several real life examples that fit this pattern:

 

Local ranger gives permission for geocache in NPS-managed area. Reviewer publishes cache based on assurance of adequate permission. Higher-up official within NPS reverses the decision based on national policy, and the cache is archived.

 

Or how about all the caches removed by NPS rangers following the issuance of the bulletin referenced above?

 

From what I've read here so far, the decision is either the park superintendent's call, or from someone higher up. Documentation I've found on the web seems to indicate conflicting policies for individual parks, yet there's apparently some higher authority you're referring to. Do you have any specific information on the bulletin that was issued? Did it apply to every park, or just one?

 

There still seems to be some question about policies, and at what level they're set. This is exactly what I was trying to figure out from the beginning.

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Extreme Environmentalists don't understand balance. Is it really better to lay off 3000 forest workers to save an owl? I guess it just depends on how you view life. If you watch this thread long enough, you will eventually see someone compare human beings to other forms of life in an equal manner. I don't believe we are equal to anything on the planet and that everything is for our use. Does this mean we destroy everything? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Does this mean we get our panties in a wrinkle over a little trail in the woods? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

 

Speaking of extreme... I regularly see the impact in areas where individuals believe they have the 'right' to go anywhere and everywhere they wish regardless of restrictions, just because they are on public lands. Your 'little trail in the woods' is very often one of dozens of braided, rutted tracks eroding into gullies.

 

Some areas can handle impact, some cannot. It's the job of land managers to determine how much and what sorts of use is appropriate, and we as the public employ them to use their education and training to do so. Given the choice between your 'it's own land, anything goes' attitude and regulations that ensure that my recreational experience in 10 or 20 years will be the same or even better than it is today, the choice is obvious.

 

I think you are extremely overstating the impact of geocaching. In 10 to 20 years, you'll probably have more trails to enjoy. I'm still waiting for an explanation as to who/what we are hurting when we create a 50 foot trail in a 500 acre park. Any takers?

I totally agree. I grew up deer hunting in Pennsylvania. Some environmentalists would call me an evil murderer of a beautiful creature. However, any hunter can tell you that deers leave trails all through the forests. Plus they rub the bark off glorious trees during the rut, with no regard to how rare that tree may be. Maybe I was just killing them off before they could leave any more traces. :anibad:

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Extreme Environmentalists don't understand balance. Is it really better to lay off 3000 forest workers to save an owl? I guess it just depends on how you view life. If you watch this thread long enough, you will eventually see someone compare human beings to other forms of life in an equal manner. I don't believe we are equal to anything on the planet and that everything is for our use. Does this mean we destroy everything? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Does this mean we get our panties in a wrinkle over a little trail in the woods? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

 

Speaking of extreme... I regularly see the impact in areas where individuals believe they have the 'right' to go anywhere and everywhere they wish regardless of restrictions, just because they are on public lands. Your 'little trail in the woods' is very often one of dozens of braided, rutted tracks eroding into gullies.

 

Some areas can handle impact, some cannot. It's the job of land managers to determine how much and what sorts of use is appropriate, and we as the public employ them to use their education and training to do so. Given the choice between your 'it's own land, anything goes' attitude and regulations that ensure that my recreational experience in 10 or 20 years will be the same or even better than it is today, the choice is obvious.

 

I think you are extremely overstating the impact of geocaching. In 10 to 20 years, you'll probably have more trails to enjoy. I'm still waiting for an explanation as to who/what we are hurting when we create a 50 foot trail in a 500 acre park. Any takers?

 

disclaimer~~For the record, an above post seemed like I was being termed an Extreme Environmentalist. That is not the case, I love my gas guzzling truck and do believe some of our policies go to far, but this is one I understand.

 

Now, on to my reply. Ever heard the saying "Give them an inch, they'll take a mile"? If they allow geocachers to place a cache knowing that a 50 ft geotrail will likely result, then the orienteering crowd sees it and wants their turn...then the bikers...then the ATV's....

 

I love geocaching, and I love where it takes me, but you give me the choice between hiking a 50 foot geotrail to find a rusty ammo can today and 50 years from now taking my grandchildren to the same pristine wilderness I enjoyed today, and the geocache loses.

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Extreme Environmentalists don't understand balance. Is it really better to lay off 3000 forest workers to save an owl? I guess it just depends on how you view life. If you watch this thread long enough, you will eventually see someone compare human beings to other forms of life in an equal manner. I don't believe we are equal to anything on the planet and that everything is for our use. Does this mean we destroy everything? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Does this mean we get our panties in a wrinkle over a little trail in the woods? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

 

Speaking of extreme... I regularly see the impact in areas where individuals believe they have the 'right' to go anywhere and everywhere they wish regardless of restrictions, just because they are on public lands. Your 'little trail in the woods' is very often one of dozens of braided, rutted tracks eroding into gullies.

 

Some areas can handle impact, some cannot. It's the job of land managers to determine how much and what sorts of use is appropriate, and we as the public employ them to use their education and training to do so. Given the choice between your 'it's own land, anything goes' attitude and regulations that ensure that my recreational experience in 10 or 20 years will be the same or even better than it is today, the choice is obvious.

 

I think you are extremely overstating the impact of geocaching. In 10 to 20 years, you'll probably have more trails to enjoy. I'm still waiting for an explanation as to who/what we are hurting when we create a 50 foot trail in a 500 acre park. Any takers?

 

Another thing I'd like to add....it's always been my understanding that if a geocache is placed--and hunted--such that a noticable geotrail is developing, the owner should temp. disable or archive the cache to give the environment time to heal itself. Am I the only one that thinks this way?

 

(and yes, I realize that this comment in and of itself is counterproductive to my earlier posts, but I have to ask)

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I totally agree. I grew up deer hunting in Pennsylvania. Some environmentalists would call me an evil murderer of a beautiful creature. However, any hunter can tell you that deers leave trails all through the forests. Plus they rub the bark off glorious trees during the rut, with no regard to how rare that tree may be. Maybe I was just killing them off before they could leave any more traces. :blink:

 

And what about these types? :anibad:

 

gcon93l.jpg

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As a practical matter, one can look at the actions of NPS officials. I can think of several real life examples that fit this pattern:

 

Local ranger gives permission for geocache in NPS-managed area. Reviewer publishes cache based on assurance of adequate permission. Higher-up official within NPS reverses the decision based on national policy, and the cache is archived.

 

Or how about all the caches removed by NPS rangers following the issuance of the bulletin referenced above?

 

From what I've read here so far, the decision is either the park superintendent's call, or from someone higher up. Documentation I've found on the web seems to indicate conflicting policies for individual parks, yet there's apparently some higher authority you're referring to. Do you have any specific information on the bulletin that was issued? Did it apply to every park, or just one?

 

There still seems to be some question about policies, and at what level they're set. This is exactly what I was trying to figure out from the beginning.

 

First I have read the original memo that banned geocaching and stated that they would use the abandoned property laws to deal with caches. The memo had factual errors but now they have proliferated through the NPS system. However I can not find a version on the net, not even on the NPS site. It's probably there to be found if the right search string can be found.

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....Have to disagree with you there, R-o-N. They are charged with maintaining and preserving natural resources, and preventing damage to such resources. The activities listed above, while usually participated in by conservation/LNT minded individuals, all have an adverse impact on the environment. Rock climbing involves anchor points hammered into rock faces, bicycling off-road--especially in groups--has a bad reputation for tearing up the path the bikes follow. Geocaching and orienteering both bring people to a concentrated point, frequently by the same path. It can take as little as seven trips across an area to compact the soil enough that vegetation cannot grow. As such, these activities are unfortunately detrimental to the parks, so they are fully right in not allowing them...

 

Ironicly the park by it's very existance and development concentrates people. That creates the need to ban most of the activities that people who enjoy parks would like to do, and which without the NPS having developed the park in the first place we could hike in and do. Oh the irony! :anibad:

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First I have read the original memo that banned geocaching and stated that they would use the abandoned property laws to deal with caches. The memo had factual errors but now they have proliferated through the NPS system. However I can not find a version on the net, not even on the NPS site. It's probably there to be found if the right search string can be found.

 

I've also been told by an NPS ranger that they treat caches as abandoned property and apply that specific law. I was hoping to locate the source of that decision, and it sounds like this mysterious memo is what caused it. I was also hoping to get my hands on the memo, so I could understand where that decision originally came from, especially if it contains errors or misunderstandings about geocaching. Sometimes decisions are made and people forget why they were made, they just remember that "it's always been that way". Finding out why it is the way it is could be the first step to changing the policy.

 

I'm sure there are other considerations as well, like geo-trails, lack of funds and staff to manage a permit system, etc etc, but the decision came from someone at some point in the past, it affects all of us today, and most likely will for the forseeable future. It's a piece of history we should probably not forget, especially if we hope to change it some day.

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Still can't find it but here is an NPS document that allows Geocaching with a permit.

 

http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:0mrOn2...us&ct=clnk&cd=4

 

Here is an article that linked to the origial memo that started it all. The link is dead. Apparently the NPS has removed it from it's website.

 

http://www.coloradojournal.com/geocaching.htm

 

So maybe they changed their mind.

Edited by Renegade Knight
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Still can't find it but here is an NPS document that allows Geocaching with a permit.

 

http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:0mrOn2...us&ct=clnk&cd=4

 

Here is an article that linked to the origial memo that started it all. The link is dead. Apparently the NPS has removed it from it's website.

 

http://www.coloradojournal.com/geocaching.htm

 

So maybe they changed their mind.

 

Good links! The first appears to be specific to Prince William Forest Park though, and doesn't seem to apply to any other parks, based on the title of the document. That appears to indicate that geocaching is discressionary based on the person in charge of a specific park, and not banned completely by the NPS. Good to know, perhaps, little by little, park by park, we can open up some of these areas again.

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As a practical matter, one can look at the actions of NPS officials. I can think of several real life examples that fit this pattern:

 

Local ranger gives permission for geocache in NPS-managed area. Reviewer publishes cache based on assurance of adequate permission. Higher-up official within NPS reverses the decision based on national policy, and the cache is archived.

 

Or how about all the caches removed by NPS rangers following the issuance of the bulletin referenced above?

 

From what I've read here so far, the decision is either the park superintendent's call, or from someone higher up. Documentation I've found on the web seems to indicate conflicting policies for individual parks, yet there's apparently some higher authority you're referring to. Do you have any specific information on the bulletin that was issued? Did it apply to every park, or just one?

 

There still seems to be some question about policies, and at what level they're set. This is exactly what I was trying to figure out from the beginning.

 

The single document pointed to most often as the origin/basis for the "ban on geocaching" in areas managed by the National Park Service ("NPS") is the "Morning Report" from March 22, 2001. That bulletin has been referenced above. It's no longer online, but I happen to have found a copy in my reference materials and it's reproduced below. Reading this document may help people to better understand the reasoning behind some of the site's listing guidelines, such as the "no buried caches" guideline.

 

Note that I said "areas managed by" the NPS -- not "National Parks." The issue is far wider than just U.S. National Parks. I have several anecdotal examples from individual NPS offices, such as correspondence from National Recreation Areas and National Monuments. But it all started with this:

 

Geocaching - There is a new web-based activity called geocaching that has affected several National Park Service areas. The Ranger Activities Division asked Olympic NP SA Mike Butler to investigate. Here's his report: Geocaching is an activity in which participants hide a cache and take a position at the location using a GPS receiver. The position is then published on the group's web site with an invitation to search for the "treasure." Caches often contain a notebook or log book and something the finder may take. The finder is asked to put another item in the cache for others to discover and will often report the find on the web site. Several caches have been found in National Park Service areas. The webmaster for the site has been contacted. He was very surprised that geocaching is illegal in NPS areas, and understood NPS concerns about the damage geocaching has and can cause to historic, archeological and natural sites. He agreed to work with the Service to discourage further geocaching activities in parks.

 

Two related activities were also discovered. Letterboxing is a phenomenon similar to geocaching in that a player takes directions from a web site and uses those directions to find a hidden object. In letterboxing, the directions come in the form of a riddle and the hidden object is a stamp which the finder can use to stamp a piece of paper to prove that he has visited the site. The web site showed the location of at least two letterboxes in parks. The parks have been notified, but the Service has not yet contacted the webmaster or game managers. The Degree Confluence Project is another web-based activity where people try to visit various latitude and longitude integer degree intersections and report their findings on the web site. In this case, however, no objects are placed in the ground, and there are no apparent regulatory violations in areas where cross-country travel is allowed or where the confluence is not on a protected site. There has been no attempt to contact the project organizers.

 

Additional comments referring to sections of the Code of Federal Regulations: The depositing of the cache, be it a bucket or other type of container, could be in violation of a few regulations like digging up plants if it was being buried. Additionally, it is against regulations to leave property unattended for more than 24 hours without it being subject to impoundment. If people are "hunting" for something, it could certainly take more than 24 hours to find. Lastly, some areas are closed to off-trail hiking which could prohibit someone from going off trail to place or retrieve a cache.

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Now, on to my reply. Ever heard the saying "Give them an inch, they'll take a mile"? If they allow geocachers to place a cache knowing that a 50 ft geotrail will likely result, then the orienteering crowd sees it and wants their turn...then the bikers...then the ATV's....

 

I love geocaching, and I love where it takes me, but you give me the choice between hiking a 50 foot geotrail to find a rusty ammo can today and 50 years from now taking my grandchildren to the same pristine wilderness I enjoyed today, and the geocache loses.

 

You're assuming these geotrails are inevitible. With over 500 cache hunts under my belt and 150 caches placed, I've seen a maybe a half dozen. And in every case it was no different from a game trail. There was no compacted treadway, erosion or any other damage.

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The single document pointed to most often as the origin/basis for the "ban on geocaching" in areas managed by the National Park Service ("NPS") is the "Morning Report" from March 22, 2001. That bulletin has been referenced above. It's no longer online, but I happen to have found a copy in my reference materials and it's reproduced below. Reading this document may help people to better understand the reasoning behind some of the site's listing guidelines, such as the "no buried caches" guideline.

 

Note that I said "areas managed by" the NPS -- not "National Parks." The issue is far wider than just U.S. National Parks. I have several anecdotal examples from individual NPS offices, such as correspondence from National Recreation Areas and National Monuments. But it all started with this:

 

Thanks for digging through your archives! The bulletin states that it is illegal, but not why. However the abandoned property regulation clarifies that. I was able to locate that specific regulation on the net. According to it, abandoning property is prohibited, as is "Leaving property unattended for longer than 24 hours, except in locations where longer time periods have been designated or in accordance with conditions established by the superintendent". Since the abandoned property regulation is the one the NPS uses to ban caches, it looks like it also gives us a legal way of placing caches - only if the superintendent allows it.

 

It also states that the above regulation applies, "regardless of land ownership, on all lands and waters within a park area that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States." So we aren't talking just National Parks, but all other NPS regulated lands too, like you said.

 

Thanks for the info!

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My point is that you shouldn't have to ask for permission to use OUR land in a legal manner. If they want to require a permit to place a cache, fine, I don't mind. You have to pay a day use fee to use some NPs and that is perfectly within reason.

 

I had a cache removed from a public municipal park because a group that was cleaning out invasive blackberry's felt it didn't belong there and was garbage (even though it was clearly marked on the container). When I spoke with the manager of the park, he felt that it was harming the area. The cache was placed within 2 feet of the trail behind some blackberry's. Was he worried I was going to harm the invasive blackberry's that they were there to remove?

...

Yes it may be OUR land but isn't it entrusted to the care/protection/management of these other people? Guess who gets the complains for not doing enough to protect this or that if something is damaged. Some parks (or specfic rangers) figure they need to CYA and just say no, instead of trying to find a balance between protecting the area from harm, AND allowing public recreation use. If some parks person has some incorrect idea, like that geocaches are buried, or that allowing the placement of a cache means 50 people will show up the day after and hack a trail threw the park to the cache, then its understandable why they think geocaching is harmful and shouldn't be allowed.

 

It shouldn't have been this clean up groups decision about removing the cache or not.

For for what you were 'harming', that's something to discuss with the park manager. He may have simply been saying No to avoid having to make a decision. Or he may have been concerned about spreading the seeds from that invasive plant it was hidden next to. (the same ones that animals, and other human trail users may already be spreading <_< ) It would have been better if the ranger had helped find a better location for the cache, you know a spot that would have allowed the public (geocachers) enjoy the area, while Not doing permanent damage to the area.

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I might be blowing the whistle on somebody here and getting them in trouble but when I talked to our local rangers about putting in a geocache they didn't seem to be too upset. I ran into one ranger who got snotty and nasty and told me that in her opinion I shouldn't have to put in a cache to get people to go there in the first place. That just being out doors and moving around should be reward enough. I pointed out several local areas that not many people would know about with out some "advertising" that are not impacted at all by the cache. I left it alone and left. Came back a few months later and talked to a ranger who knew all about geocaching and whose only concern was some of the details of the hide. He actually had an idea of where to put it so that it would be basically on the side of a trail (about 2 feet off it) hidden in a rock formation that would be easy to find if you were looking for it but if you weren't you would walk right past it everytime. The whole no food, no weapons etc thing was discussed and etc. Everybody who goes along the trail (up the side of a mountain) follows this same trail (or falls off the mountain which is generally regarded as bad luck) so there would not be an increase in traffic (it is a long, hard, nasty, high hike that goes from about 6K feet up to about 9.5K feet where the cache would be) over the normal traffic to the top which is about 10.5K feet up. Since it is basically on the trail and hidden in a rock area none of the ground cover plants (there aren't any growing on the rocks) would be impacted.

 

I got the feeling talking to him that there was some sort of a universal ban but that the ban could be altered on a carefully screen and controlled individual basis as long as the Park staff was involved and had control over the details. Maybe I read him wrong but I don't think so.

 

Right now my challenge is to get myself and 2 of my boys into good enough shape to make the 10 mile round trip to the peak and back <_<

 

Ron Gerth

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I found this link on the NPS website Heritage Education – Louisiana 2004-05 Mini Grants. It is to the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT). Ironically they awarded a $2500 mini-grant to a teacher at Forked Island E. Broussard Elementary School for a student project where there students will produce a PowerPoint presentation containing caching sites with pictures and information of Vermilion Parish. The project is called Geocaching Vermilion Style.

 

So while the NPS bans Geocaching, they will award a mini-grant for people to promote it.

 

I'd be interested in knowing if the teacher, Patricia Gaspard, is a member of Geocaching.com and what if anything she might be able to add to the topic.

Edited by BRTango
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On the one cache I did get approved for a national park I started out by talking to the park superintendent and explaining my idea for the cache. The superintendent then sent the request all the way up line . It took quite a while to get approval since it had to go through a lot of red tape. This was before the more widespread ban on caches in national parks. It probably would die a violent death today.

 

I would also note that more than once I have seen caches that were inappropriately placed or buried. I can see how the NPS would be concerned about something like that happening in a national park.

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I have to chime in here, sorry...

 

I have been working with floristics for a number of years. I have worked with both Nature Conservancy personnel and those with the Nature Preserves Commission, neither of which are in charge of NPs, but still oversee protected lands. I have also dealt with some NP personnel and state university personnel who manage bio-preserves.

 

None of the people above are happy with caching. Why? While one may think/believe that a small trail or path is not enough to have an effect on the environment and that animals or normal nature conditions have the same effect, I would have to disagree.

 

Much of what is being done in NPs or in state preserves is done either to control human encroachment or to return sites to their natural state. Glades, barrens, etc. are all but gone, prairies, ranges for some wildlife, etc. are loosing their hold. The animals that have been spoken about are generally found in greater numbers now than at any time in the history of the U.S.

 

How many people who take part in geocaching know the difference between a Rosa multiflora and a Rubus canadensis, which is an invasive non-native and which is an endangered native? Clam, bats, mammals, you name it...

 

Perhaps you will call me one of the environmentalist that.... (fill in your explative), however if we can CITO, I am certain that we can do so while respecting the land in other ways.

 

And, just for your information, geocaching websites are constantly being monitored by these organizations. They know the boundries of the properties by lat/long coordinates, the boundries are generally logged through poi's. Anything within those bounds is easily found, and easily removed. It is a shame that virtual caches are not accepted anymore, earthcaching is such a fabulous educational tool...

 

And that is my two cents worth...

 

p.s. Rubus canadensis, endangered... Rosa multiflora, non-native invasive...

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What, geocachers are responsible for the spread of invasive plants? Maybe in isolated areas of Northwest Ohio, but apart from that, I'm not following your logic.

 

I *do* agree with your logic when it comes to protected environments. But there is so much paved, commercialized space at NPS managed properties -- visitor centers, urban settings, etc. Like every other cache, a cache on NPS managed property could be evaluated by the local manager and be accepted if it did not have an adverse environmental impact.

 

Here in Pennsylvania, our State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources reviews each cache application against a database of protected areas. It is called a natural resources inventory review. One of my cache proposals was rejected because of rare ferns in that area. The park naturalist worked with me to identify a different location, which turned out to be far superior. And, designated "natural" and "wild" areas are off-limits entirely to caches.

 

This system has been working quite well for more than three years. It is a shame that the NPS can't adopt a common sense policy that works like this one.

Edited by The Leprechauns
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And, just for your information, geocaching websites are constantly being monitored by these organizations. They know the boundries of the properties by lat/long coordinates, the boundries are generally logged through poi's. Anything within those bounds is easily found, and easily removed.

 

In a cooperative model, such a database of NPS property boundaries could be shared with the geocaching community -- particularly the volunteer cache reviewers. Each week, the reviewers screen out several caches placed on NPS property without permission, and ask the owners to retrieve them. Any which slip through are likely due to poor maps.

 

But that would be too easy. Instead, tax dollars are spent on sending people into the woods to remove dangerous tupperware.

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....Much of what is being done in NPs or in state preserves is done either to control human encroachment or to return sites to their natural state. Glades, barrens, etc. are all but gone, prairies, ranges for some wildlife, etc. are loosing their hold. The animals that have been spoken about are generally found in greater numbers now than at any time in the history of the U.S.

 

How many people who take part in geocaching know the difference between a Rosa multiflora and a Rubus canadensis, which is an invasive non-native and which is an endangered native? Clam, bats, mammals, you name it...

....

 

Oddly enough I just got a nice guide to native plants of Idaho for my use in restoration of the land as it relates to my job. You ask what any one cacher knows and I'll say about as much as you, though about different things. Collectively we know a hell of a lot.

 

My advice for all parks, conservancies, refuges etc. is the same. Preservation for the people not from the people. Preservation from the people has no social purpose and I sure as heck don't want to fund it out of my pocket. Budgets are getting tight and if the choice starts coming down to funding land uses that allow recreation and the ones that just fence off our country from it’s citizens it’s an easy choice.

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And, just for your information, geocaching websites are constantly being monitored by these organizations. They know the boundries of the properties by lat/long coordinates, the boundries are generally logged through poi's. Anything within those bounds is easily found, and easily removed.

 

In a cooperative model, such a database of NPS property boundaries could be shared with the geocaching community -- particularly the volunteer cache reviewers. Each week, the reviewers screen out several caches placed on NPS property without permission, and ask the owners to retrieve them. Any which slip through are likely due to poor maps.

 

But that would be too easy. Instead, tax dollars are spent on sending people into the woods to remove dangerous tupperware.

 

I'd venture a speculation that they are talking GIS type information which is reasonably accurate but nothing I'd hang my hat on. You could use GIS boundaries to know when you should look at a cache on the boundary of a park but you would have to actually check it out in the field.

 

Once past the fuzzy GIS boundary there is a point at which they would clearly know the cache is inside their grounds.

 

GIS though would be a awe inspiring took for geocaching. (Insert plug for an aspiring non profit geocaching organization to get the grants to do something like this here.)

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What, geocachers are responsible for the spread of invasive plants? Maybe in isolated areas of Northwest Ohio, but apart from that, I'm not following your logic.

 

I *do* agree with your logic when it comes to protected environments. But there is so much paved, commercialized space at NPS managed properties -- visitor centers, urban settings, etc. Like every other cache, a cache on NPS managed property could be evaluated by the local manager and be accepted if it did not have an adverse environmental impact.

 

Here in Pennsylvania, our State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources reviews each cache application against a database of protected areas. It is called a natural resources inventory review. One of my cache proposals was rejected because of rare ferns in that area. The park naturalist worked with me to identify a different location, which turned out to be far superior. And, designated "natural" and "wild" areas are off-limits entirely to caches.

 

This system has been working quite well for more than three years. It is a shame that the NPS can't adopt a common sense policy that works like this one.

 

It isn't necessarily the spread of invasives but the harmful effects on natives that are, in many cases, endangered, threatened or on the watch list.

 

And I disagree with the statement in a post above, which user I can't remember. Not all, if even a more then a small percentage, understand the issues in reference to this, understand the differences between species, are even aware of some of the endangered or threatened species in an area.

 

Additionally, has anyone here ever been off the mark finding a location? Tell me no and I'll doubt your honesty. What happened? Did you comb the area looking for that micro, was your GPS off by 30-50 feet and you spent the afternoon hunting for the cache? I'm sure that everyone hasn't hit all of their caches directly on the mark each time. So where the cache owner carefully set the cache, in order not to interfer with whatever issue is at stake, is not necessarily where the people are going to be stomping around.

 

Finally, someone commented that these parks are for the citizens of the United States and as a citizen they felt that they should be allowed to do what they want on those lands. I will state the same, I want them protected from ATVs, off-road vehicles, hikers, bicycle riders, hunters, letterboxers and geocachers. Now which one of us gets what they want.

 

There are plenty of places to hide caches there is no need to disturb a protected area. There is no issue here. Pass it up, learn to live with it or, and this can happen, get caught doing it and get arrested on a federal charge. (Actually, collecting plants, any plants, without a permit will get you the same result. I can't even collect a (1) leaf for the herbarium collection (herbarium, place where plant collections are stored for study, how many geocachers know that one?) without a permit. And then that permit has to include the location and status of the collections and the status must be updated periodically. It is taken seriously, and the park service employees are imployed for just this sort of thing, protecting the National Park Service Property. Remember Campephilus principalis "Ivory billed woodpecker (but geocachers know that, eh). Thought extinct by mans incroachment into its natural habitate? Its fine with me if we cause our own extinction, lets not effect all the other life on this planet while we are doing it.

 

And that's the word. I'll leave you alone now. Good luck changing the present policies... personally I hope you can't.

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Remember Campephilus principalis "Ivory billed woodpecker (but geocachers know that, eh). Thought extinct by mans incroachment into its natural habitate? Its fine with me if we cause our own extinction, lets not effect all the other life on this planet while we are doing it.

 

 

Ivory billed woodpeckers. This geocacher knows that they are not extinct.

 

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory/rediscovery/

 

Edit to add that this bird may soon be extinct and I think we should do what we can to help restore it but I didn't like the expert claiming that geocachers don't know anything about nature and what plants are invasive and which are not.

Edited by webscouter.
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It can take as little as seven trips across an area to compact the soil enough that vegetation cannot grow. As such, these activities are unfortunately detrimental to the parks, so they are fully right in not allowing them.

 

(going to go look for my nomex underwear now..)

 

I see this statement all the time and it drives me nuts. Seven trips will cause soil compaction to the point that plants cannot grow? I've seen abandoned roads that are paved in 6 inches of concrete/asphalt that have been abandoned less than 20 years ago that are covered in native grasses and have trees growing in the middle of them. I have walked sidewalks in cities were the sidewalk has been displaced, broken up by the roots of a nearby oak tree. I have walked across lava fields that have plants and trees and flowers growing on them. It may take a while but if nature can take back a road after 20 years it can take back my geotrail after 2.

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....And I disagree with the statement in a post above, which user I can't remember. Not all, if even a more then a small percentage, understand the issues in reference to this, understand the differences between species, are even aware of some of the endangered or threatened species in an area.

 

You don't really listen very well do you?

I disagree with your disagreement on only a few people understanding the issues. The issue is larger than invasive species or saving an endangered plant. Such a small thing as saving a plant will bump into issues that you don't know much about but which are also important. Listen again. Everyone knows about as much as you, just about different things. As a collective whole geocachers know quite a bit about everything. That's because we come from all walks of life and from all professions.

 

Your second point. What was the point? Yes I've been off the mark and I looked longer. That is already part of geocaching, we already do things to minimize it, but the impacts at any one cache already include the occasional person who "didn't hit the mark". I like your 'stomping around'. Nice term. Is that what you do when you hike? Stomp? I don't. Sumo Wrestlers stomp but they are not wrestling on cache grounds. Your bias shows in your rewording of what geocachers do. If you want to be taken seriously and if you want to have an impact and do some good then, pay the respect that you are demanding.

 

Next, again we come to you not listening very well. The concept of preservation for the people not from the people is a simple thing. The first concept you need to understand is that nature is indifferent. You can't debate it. Nature has no will, it doesn't care, it just is. Nature will destroy all of Yellowstone when the next mega eruption happens. Why? It's nature. Yellowstone only has value to humans because we alone take the time to enjoy it. If in preserving Yellowstone they fence it off, rip out the roads and post unemployed ex East German border guards who shoot to kill, you will absolutely positively remove the direct human impact to Yellowstone. That mega eruption will happen anyway. What have you gained? Nothing but you spent a lot of time preserving something that nature doesn’t care about but for which people do. If it’s going to be blown apart by nature why not allow the citizens of this country the enjoyment of this great land? Things can be preserved while allowing their enjoyment and use.

 

Your last comment about people should be able to do what they want with the land. As I didn’t say that, and I specifically mentioned preservation I’m not sure what you're point is. You should read The Tragedy of the Commons. It’s something I do believe in. However you also asked about competing land uses. ATVs, Hikers, Off Road rigs, Hikers, Bikers, Walkers, Crawlers, and even Botanists playing a part in protection. All are land users. All are valid, not all are compatible. If you read and understand the tragedy of the commons, if you understand that all are viable things for humans to do, if you understand that we alone care about nature because nature is indifferent then you understand that there is balance among these things and that maintaining that balance is not easy. If you don’t and you would wall off a park from all uses so that some spot of nature can thrive undisturbed then I would go the extra mile and also prevent Botanists and park managers who stomp around (don’t you love that word stomp?) and harm MY flora by investigating it, taking samples, poking, prodding and otherwise making a nuisance of themselves. In the end it is MY park as a citizen and park managers at best are nothing more than it’s steward working in trust for MY benefit. It’s like owning stock. I may only own one Billionth of Ford but it gives me a vested interest. Same with my country. This is my land and my home. I’m interested.

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Perhaps someone from geocaching.com, Groundspeak.com, or other geocache old timer should open a dialog with the NPS over this issue. Perhaps over time policy would be adopted that gives both parties what they want .

 

Dalesyk

geocache newbie;)

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I have to chime in here, sorry...

 

I have been working with floristics for a number of years. I have worked with both Nature Conservancy personnel and those with the Nature Preserves Commission, neither of which are in charge of NPs, but still oversee protected lands. I have also dealt with some NP personnel and state university personnel who manage bio-preserves.

 

None of the people above are happy with caching. Why? While one may think/believe that a small trail or path is not enough to have an effect on the environment and that animals or normal nature conditions have the same effect, I would have to disagree.

 

Much of what is being done in NPs or in state preserves is done either to control human encroachment or to return sites to their natural state. Glades, barrens, etc. are all but gone, prairies, ranges for some wildlife, etc. are loosing their hold. The animals that have been spoken about are generally found in greater numbers now than at any time in the history of the U.S.

 

How many people who take part in geocaching know the difference between a Rosa multiflora and a Rubus canadensis, which is an invasive non-native and which is an endangered native? Clam, bats, mammals, you name it...

 

Perhaps you will call me one of the environmentalist that.... (fill in your explative), however if we can CITO, I am certain that we can do so while respecting the land in other ways.

 

And, just for your information, geocaching websites are constantly being monitored by these organizations. They know the boundries of the properties by lat/long coordinates, the boundries are generally logged through poi's. Anything within those bounds is easily found, and easily removed. It is a shame that virtual caches are not accepted anymore, earthcaching is such a fabulous educational tool...

 

And that is my two cents worth...

 

p.s. Rubus canadensis, endangered... Rosa multiflora, non-native invasive...

 

I too have to chime in here.... Yes, I know the difference between Rubus canadensis and Rosa multiflora, but I have to ask here, do you know what caused the spread of Rosa multiflora.....

 

And that is my two cents worth....

 

p.s. Rosa multiflora first imported for use by rose growers, then promoted by the US Soil and Water Conservation for erosion control, natural fencing etc. etc.. probably the same type of people who are now decrying the erosion caused by geocachers :laughing:

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...but I didn't like the expert claiming that geocachers don't know anything about nature and what plants are invasive and which are not.

 

Being that I'm a volunteer for a program that is pinpointing and cataloging invasives, I also take issue with this.

 

I'm not sure however what geocaching has to do with the existence of invasives. They were around long before geocaching started. I guess a seed can latch onto a geocacher and be carried elsewhere, but is just as likely, if not more likely to latch on to a wild animal.

 

I know certain invasives thrive where a treadway is compacted, but I've yet to encounter that situation in over 500 cache hunts.

Edited by briansnat
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Being that I'm a volunteer for a program that is pinpointing and cataloging invasives, I also take issue with this.

 

That is fantastic. Everyone could do that if they learned their plants and used their gps for this purpose while out.

I'm not sure however what geocaching has to do with the existence of invasives. They were around long before geocaching started. I guess a seed can latch onto a geocacher and be carried elsewhere, but is just as likely, if not more likely to latch on to a wild animal.

 

Not the existence of invasives, but the harmful effects on already deminished populations of natives that are being out competed by invasives. One of the major issues and reasons for set aside land on nature preserves, etc.

I know certain invasives thrive where a treadway is compacted, but I've yet to encounter that situation in over 500 cache hunts.

 

How many of those cache hunts have been in areas set aside for the sole purpose of keeping a natural area intact. I know barrens because I have worked on them, flora for the most part. The soil is very shallow above the limestone base. Even a small trail can kill enough plant life to lead to errosion and this leads to the loss of a seed bank. In a very short time you have no native in that area that, if it an unplowed, native, natural, undeveloped area has invasives thriving and spreading. They outcompete natives. Soon you no longer have a native barren. The same situation occurs in numerous other situation, riparian stream boundries, mesic forest areas, etc.

 

And yes I know that Rosa multiflora was brought in by the government to aid in issues related to soil errosion, as was Pueraria. Now they are desperately trying to correct the mistakes that they have done by promoting native plants. It is a wicked cycle.

 

I know most won't agree with all of this. And I know that I said I was going to go away but with all of the caustic remarks directed towards me ("you don't listen do you", etc.) I felt it necessary to respond to those that had valid, logical and worthwhile responses.

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