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Allison Wunderland

Eco-Caching

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Newbie that I am, I'm seeing discussion in these forums about caches being located in eco-sensitive areas. There's an "eco-fascist" (my description) in WA who is removing and destroying caches.

 

She has a blog:

 

http://protectsensitiveecosystems.blogspot.com/

 

My colleague Dr. Judy (MD) and I had a discussion the other day about "peace treaties." She's read some complex thinker's ideas about this in terms of foreign policy. Basically it comes down to: "There will be no treaty until both sides are willing to seriously discuss and consider the other party's views."

 

No one in these forums wants to consciously trash the ecosystem. Nonetheless, just today I read a post, IN HERE --

 

"What Do You Take Along When GeoCaching?"

 

Someone posted that they carry a crowbar which they use to "beat back the foliage."

 

This may be acceptable and appropriate in an abandoned lot, urban environment, but just the mention makes my toes curl. Scouring an area for a micro-cache will result in trampled whatever is growing there. In a desert environment, what looks like "bare ground" is a pretty complex ecosystem of flora and fauna. It's able to survive because it's not subject to foot traffic.

 

This blog site points out that rotten stumps and fallen trees have a role in the forest ecosystem and that stashing swag in rotted stumps or under moss covered rocks disturbs the habitat.

 

So let's be sensitive to these issues!

 

Let's not destroy the very habitat we're encouraging people to go out and explore/appreciate. Let's consider the impact that a cache search has on the area where it's hidden.

 

Personally, and I'm a newbie, I'm hiding caches which are difficult to access, but easy to find. E.g. a hike into an area where vehicle access is far removed, along a deserted beach, far off the road in desert sage, accessed by a serious hike. Once you're at the cache coordinates, the swag is a "gimme."

 

Here's an analogy -- Watch police search a house for drugs or contraband. They know it's there, and they tear the place apart, turn things upside-down, inside-out in the search.

 

Let's not turn this sport into a destructive search endeavor, eh?

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This was my first thought when I first learned about GC. I too asked in this forum about damage I have seen GC in nearby areas in central FL.

Of course common landscape shrubs and ground covers can tolerate some damage, but in your example of people bringing crowbars to find caches or what I have witnessed, hiding caches where one has to walk through non trail areas, nailing hooks to trees Etc. is irresposible and there is no excuse.

 

While topics like this get repeated often in this forum, I say all the better. Maybe we can turn a few folks around.

 

myths:

1) Too few people GC, can't cause damage (It only takes 1..see crowbar post)

 

2) Others, like Hikers cause problems too! (sounds like my kid and this is a GC forum)

 

3) Leave No Trace is an environmentalist left wing org! (BSA have the largest group membership, not exactly a bastion of liberalism, and doesn't make the principals wrong)

 

4) I've never seen any problems (Look)

 

Thanks for the post

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Of course, people who advocate leave no trace also need to recognize that there is a distinction between changing an ecosystem and damaging it.

 

Just because something looks different after cachers come through doesn't necessarily mean it's been "damaged." Just changed.

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Just because something looks different after cachers come through doesn't necessarily mean it's been "damaged." Just changed.

 

I always liked the phrase: You only leave footptints and you only take pictures (and trash). If you are in a group with people not observing this practice it is your responsibility to teach and educate. Sometimes when a person walks off a trail and it is explained to them why it is not good , this has the effect of educating the whole group.

With kids they understand rules and become the teachers to their peers. Teachable moments repeated a little here and there over time instill a belief and understanding of the concept or rule being taught. This works with Leave no Trace, Alcohol, drugs, and any other important lesson or cause. Everyone is a Student and everyone is a teacher, The question is : Is the lesson the one that needs to be learned.

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First things first. Has this person been logging online that they have been destroying caches? They should be reported to Groundspeak. There have been a couple of people now who have been in trouble with the police over theft of geocaches and their contents. Geocaches are not litter as they are placed with a purpose (hopefully with permission) and are owned by someone. What this person is doing is theft, vandalism and is illegal.

 

Here in the UK in summer it's not unusual to have to beat back foliage from public footpaths in order to walk along them. Is keeping a right of way clear of stinging nettles and brambles too much? If I reported it to my local authority they'd come along with a strimmer anyway and cut a way through.

 

If you're going to be this extreme then geocaching is not a "leave no trace" activity, but neither is any activity, just look at all those nasty footpaths beaten into the ground by walkers, tyre tracks by 4x4s and cyclists, chalk left on rocks by climbers etc etc.

 

These so called "environmental activists" pop up every now and then, they don't seem interested in the campaigns against road building, landfill sites or power stations but instead choose to spoil the fun of outdoor enthusiasts by removing some tupperware boxes. It's generally accepted that these people are bored students or people who want some kind of attention.

 

If this is a problem in your area then make your caches PMO, keep replacing them with cheap, simple containers and don't give these kids the attention they want.

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