Jump to content

NPS Hides and other similar spaces


FireRef
Followers 1

Recommended Posts

I have been thinking about this for a while, and am curious as to how people feel about this.

 

I know NPS hides are prohibited (National Park Service), because they don't like the idea, and I also understand the history, such as concerns over buried caches, etc.

 

However, it is this website which refuses to list them as well - not just the park service saying they won't allow them.

 

Here is my question:

 

Lets say I decide to go out and place a cache in NPS lands. (I don't actually live near any, and don't plan to anyway, but let's go hypothetical here). I hide a container somewhere on the property. I then come back, and find a website which will list that hide. People go and find it.

 

Does the NPS actually go look for it?

 

Do they try to prosecute me for hiding something which may be against their rules? (presuming its against an actual law, and they have the ability to press charges for it, and they have the interest in chasing after a few individuals who choose not to follow it) Have they done this in the past?

 

Do they try to prosecute the website which listed the cache? Is this even legal? I mean, to be allowed to go after a website for listing a set of coordinates which a person is legally allowed to go to, along with other information about that location?

 

Would this make a difference if it was a virtual cache? Can an entity with public property, with public access allowed, legally or ethically say "We don't want you pointing out locations for people to go in our area?"

 

Should this, or any website, respect this, whether they agree with it or not?

 

It just seems to me, in my opinion (which doesn't always count for much), that over the 10 years this game or sport has been in existence, they have decided to respect groups which say "you can come on our property as a citizen, but you can't play this specific game here". Are they going to make rules against having a picnic on a site, if a website opens listing great picnic grounds, and then that site will have to remove locations for good picnics? I use this example because people going out picnicing probably have a better chance of leaving things behind doing damage to the environment than our game.

 

I am in no way advocating breaking the rules on this website. I am simply looking to have a discussion on why this site has chosen to say no hides in places that land managers have contacted them saying they don't like it, rather than simply stating "Thanks. We are aware of your concerns. The hiders are responsible for their hides (as the website rules state), and if they place them there, and you don't like them, you are welcome to ask the person to remove them. We, on the other hand, only list what we are given (as the website rules state), and are not responsible for the hides themselves. Feel free to contact the owner of the container and ask that it be removed."

 

In the years that this website has been around, being nice to the land managers such as NPS has gained nothing - we still aren't allowed by NPS to place caches, and because of that, this website still won't list them. It hasn't caused them to change their rules.

 

Some parks are now open to them. Some require a permit. That's fine - however, what if you put one out without a permit? Same thing applies as above - the site isn't responsible, as they state in their rules - the owner of the cache is. Why is the site taking the position of enforcer for the various land management groups?

Link to comment

I think the problem with it (besides legal, yes they probably would prosecute you) is that it would give caching a bad name.

I really doubt that the park service really differentiates between one caching site and another.

They never said, "we don't want caches listed on the geocaching.com website" they've said they don't want caches, period.

So if someone moves in and plants one on another website, they're not going to say, "gee, should we accept a cache from another website?" they're going to say, "That darn game again. We said we don't want them here and they don't listen. Maybe we should talk to some higher ups about just outlawing it in the county, or state."

 

The idea is that we want to give the impression that cachers are responsible people. We are trying to create a good impression when others have left a bad impression in the past. We are trying to get land managers to reconsider their decisions in time. That would derail all the hard work we've done in this direction.

Link to comment

Well there are at least two physical caches I know of on NPS land that have been published by this site. Read the blog occasionally and you would have seen the article. Sounds like if you make the right connections at the park and work with the individual you could also be granted the opportunity to hide a physical.

 

As for hiding more on NPS lands, I'm not sure, but there might be another site where you could get away with it for a while, but it probably do more harm to the sport than good. As I understand it, the NPS ban was because someone did bury a cache. As for other types of caches on NPS lands there are a number of grandfathered virtuals and a number of earthcaches. Of course you can't publish any new virtuals, but earthcaches are still possible.

 

But I guess my basic question is why do you want to stir up more trouble?

Link to comment
I know NPS hides are prohibited (National Park Service), because they don't like the idea, and I also understand the history, such as concerns over buried caches, etc

 

I can only assume you are talking about opencaching which has no rules. I have to say that since I visit Yellowstone regularly it crossed my mind to go ahead a put a few out and list them there.

 

However, I quickly realized the damage this would do to our hobby when NPS finds out. I have talked with rangers in various parks and it seems that there is always one or more that have a Groundspeak account and have it set up for notification of new caches in case one sneaks by a reviewer.

 

I can only assume that once the NPS becomes aware of the new site with no rules or review they will check it on occasion. I don't imagine they would come after someone unless significant damage was found.

 

You wonder why GS doesn't just tell the NPS to sit on it and list caches. Well, whether we like it or not land managers have the right to control what occurs on their property. This community has generally tried to be a good citizen and has done a good job of it.

 

It seems that Garmin is being very short sighted by starting that site. I would bet the requirement to check the box that says the cache to be hidden is in compliance with guidelines and regulations makes them think they have absolved themselves of responsibility.

 

Although the good part is you can armchair finds all over the world (did one is Paris this morning) and there does not appear to be a process to remove logs.

 

When I give classes on geocaching I sometimes describe us as semi-anarchistic but Garmin has taken it to a new level.

Edited by Walts Hunting
Link to comment
Does the NPS actually go look for it?

 

They have done so in the past.

 

Do they try to prosecute me for hiding something which may be against their rules? (presuming its against an actual law, and they have the ability to press charges for it, and they have the interest in chasing after a few individuals who choose not to follow it) Have they done this in the past?

 

I'm not aware of any prosecutions by the NPS. The US Fish and Wildlife Service makes no bones about it and states that it will prosecute.

 

Do they try to prosecute the website which listed the cache? Is this even legal? I mean, to be allowed to go after a website for listing a set of coordinates which a person is legally allowed to go to, along with other information about that location?

 

I doubt they'd even try, the listing service is not breaking any laws. I guess they could conceivably sue in civil court.

 

Would this make a difference if it was a virtual cache? Can an entity with public property, with public access allowed, legally or ethically say "We don't want you pointing out locations for people to go in our area?"

 

If I wrote a guide book and suggested that people visit a spot in a national park they would have no right to tell me I couldn't publish the book. There is a little something called the 1st Amendment that would get in their way. Virtual caches I would think have the same protection.

 

Should this, or any website, respect this, whether they agree with it or not?
It depends on the long term goal. Groundspeak has generally respected the wishes of the NPS in hopes that by playing nice they may change their attitude toward the sport. It's been a glacial process, but the NPS does seem to be moving toward acceptance of geocaching, so I think Groundspeak's policy has been a beneficial one in the long run. Edited by briansnat
Link to comment

I think the problem with it (besides legal, yes they probably would prosecute you) is that it would give caching a bad name.

I really doubt that the park service really differentiates between one caching site and another.

They never said, "we don't want caches listed on the geocaching.com website" they've said they don't want caches, period.

So if someone moves in and plants one on another website, they're not going to say, "gee, should we accept a cache from another website?" they're going to say, "That darn game again. We said we don't want them here and they don't listen. Maybe we should talk to some higher ups about just outlawing it in the county, or state."

 

The idea is that we want to give the impression that cachers are responsible people. We are trying to create a good impression when others have left a bad impression in the past. We are trying to get land managers to reconsider their decisions in time. That would derail all the hard work we've done in this direction.

 

Will they prosecute you?

 

If I leave garbage behind when I go through, will they find the pop bottle, and try to figure out whose it is, and then spend the money to have me arrested and drag me through court hearings to fine me for leaving that pop bottle behind?

 

What if I leave a phone bill? Easier to figure out who it is, but will they go through the expense and trouble?

 

What if I leave a geocache?

 

And what if hundreds leave geocaches?

 

When people decided they didn't like the FCC rules on CB radio, they bucked. They got radios and didn't get licenses. The FCC eventually realized it was a bad decision, and made one license for everyone, instead of prosecuting tens of thousands of people "illegally" using CB's.

 

I'm not looking to stir up trouble - I'm looking for a common sense approach to this perceived problem. We don't want you playing your game here, so you can come in, you can look around, you can do everything anyone else can do, but you can't play your game, which isn't illegal except by our rules because we don't like it. And the website supports this. 2 containers hidden on NPS lands, as vast as they are? I've found more caches in a single Wal-Mart parking lot. Better quality? Probably not - but they're there. And they're being listed and being found and not destroying the game.

 

I just don't understand how the website says it is your responsibility to obtain adequate permission, yet they choose not to list some because they don't feel you have it, while others they list simply assuming you have it. The standard double standard as far as I am concerned.

Link to comment
If I wrote a guide book and suggested that people visit a spot in a national park they would have no right to tell me I couldn't publish the book. There is a little something called the 1st Amendment that would get in their way. Virtual caches I would think are covered in the same manner.

 

Since GS doesn't list virtuals anymore it isn't really an issue but I always thought that we shouldn't need land owners permission for a virtual or earthcache in a public area.

 

I know of one traditional cache in Yellowstone but the log book is placed in a peak log book at the end of a hike.

Edited by Walts Hunting
Link to comment

Personally, I tend to have a lot more anarchic views and chafe at the idea that a land manager can tell people what harmless activities they can and can't do on public lands. Groundspeak, a company who has their own public image and is the most visible public representation of geocaching, has to take a different approach. If they ignored NPS rules, then they would appear untrustworthy to non-NPS land managers and the pro-geocaching managers among them would perhaps look less favorably on our sport and introduce more restrictions on their lands. Following the restrictions and letting local volunteers wear down those organizations seems to be the best approach for all concerned and for our public image.

Link to comment
If I wrote a guide book and suggested that people visit a spot in a national park they would have no right to tell me I couldn't publish the book. There is a little something called the 1st Amendment that would get in their way. Virtual caches I would think are covered in the same manner.

 

Since GS doesn't list virtuals anymore it isn't really an issue but I always thought that we shouldn't need land owners permission for a virtual or earthcache in a public area.

 

I know of one traditional cache in Yellowstone but the log book is placed in a peak log book at the end of a hike.

 

Multi caches can have real caches outside park boundaries and virtual stages within it.

Link to comment

Personally, I tend to have a lot more anarchic views and chafe at the idea that a land manager can tell people what harmless activities they can and can't do on public lands. Groundspeak, a company who has their own public image and is the most visible public representation of geocaching, has to take a different approach. If they ignored NPS rules, then they would appear untrustworthy to non-NPS land managers and the pro-geocaching managers among them would perhaps look less favorably on our sport and introduce more restrictions on their lands. Following the restrictions and letting local volunteers wear down those organizations seems to be the best approach for all concerned and for our public image.

 

Well said (or in the latest forumspeak, +1)

Link to comment
Multi caches can have real caches outside park boundaries and virtual stages within it.

 

That is interesting to know. I guess you just use the "question to be answered" for the waypoint. Although I probably have at least two more trips to yellowstone before I finish the earthcaches which are very well done.

 

And another issue (one of many) with opencaching is you can place caches far from home and there will be nobody around to maintain them.

Link to comment

Depending on the NPS LEO, I suspect they would press charges against the cache owner. The interaction with the website would merely be a request to remove the Listong from the website.

 

And request any and all account information of the cache owner.

 

If you have ever been a Premium Member you left a nice paper trail for them.

Link to comment

Depending on the NPS LEO, I suspect they would press charges against the cache owner. The interaction with the website would merely be a request to remove the Listong from the website.

 

And request any and all account information of the cache owner.

 

If you have ever been a Premium Member you left a nice paper trail for them.

 

That would require a court order for them to release that information, unless the company has no respect for the privacy of their members.

 

And considering the fact that most park services are low on cash to start with, wasting money going after people for doing things they don't like, which aren't a violation of any actual "law" in most cases, seems pretty unlikely to me.

 

Threatening to go after people, and actually doing it, are two different things.

Link to comment

I like that idea of multis with virtual stages inside the area.

 

Here in NZ we don't have a problem with places we're not allowed to place caches. And I hope it stays that way.

But if theres a lot of 'vandalism' of sites as a result of a nearby cache you can bet it'll get banned - and for good reason - the rubbish that collects, degradation of the foliage around GZ..... its not a pretty sight!

Link to comment

I have some experience in this area, on both sides of the law.

 

On the one side, I've gotten a ticket for being in a closed area in a national park. Two, actually, now that I think about it. Both were pre-geocaching, and both, I'll admit, were deserved. One, a buddy and I camped in a campground in Great Smoky Mountain National Park we weren't sure was closed or not (it was, the ranger stopped us on the hike down). The second time, I drove onto (and got stuck on) a closed road in Organ Pipe National Monument. The rangers helped me get my car out, then they wrote me a ticket. Both times it was $50 for violating those sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.)

 

On the other side (well after the above incidents), I worked as a special assistant US attorney (SAUSA, my additional job title when I was a military prosecutor at Fort Huachuca, Arizona), so I know how the system works. I worked with similar tickets issued on post, for illegal entry, speeding, shoplifting, drunk driving. Most folks just paid the fine, but I took eleven drunk driving guilty plea cases to federal magistrate court, and I tried a contested case in front of a magistrate judge involving a cab driver who wouldn't pay the ticket after running a red light.

 

Now: searching through the C.F.R., a few sections apply. 36 C.F.R. § 1.5 allows the NPS superintendent to close or limit the use of lands, 36 C.F.R. § 1.6 provides for special use permits, and 36 C.F.R. § 2.22 prohibits abandoning property on park lands for more than 24 hours. 36 C.F.R. § 1.3 punishes the violation of those two (and other) sections punishable by a fine and/or up to 6 months in prison. While there is no service-wide ban on geocaching, as has become apparent in the forums recently, the overall National Park policy doesn't exactly encourage local park superintendents to allow it.

 

So, the National Park Service won't prosecute you, but I bet you the rangers will at least write you a ticket. And if you don't pay it, the Justice Department will prosecute you. Or, if the violation was egregious enough, the U.S. Attorney might file an information or seek a grand jury indictment.

 

If you want a case study, take Michael Fatali and the Delicate Arch incident. Fatali, an acclaimed photographer, was leading a photo workshop in Arches National Park in 2000. After sunset, Fatali set fire to some fireplace logs in an aluminum pan under Delicate Arch to create a cool lighting effect. The pans spilled, and the rock face was scorched. When questioned, he admitted setting other fires like this on two prior occasions in Canyonlands National Park. He was charged with seven misdemeanor counts, each of which were punishable by 6 months confinement and a $5,000 fine. He pled guilty and was sentenced to two years probation (during which he was barred from entering Arches and Canyonlands), 150 hours of community service, and had to pay $10,600 in restitution.

 

By the way, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service have similar sections in their parts of the C.F.R. While they've been more permissive on geocaches, they have put some areas off limits (or so Google tells me), and they'd probably go about it the same way.

Edited by hzoi
Link to comment

And considering the fact that most park services are low on cash to start with, wasting money going after people for doing things they don't like, which aren't a violation of any actual "law" in most cases, seems pretty unlikely to me.

 

Threatening to go after people, and actually doing it, are two different things.

They would not attempt to prosecute everyone. Typically, a scapegoat would be used to set an example.

 

Threatening to go after people, and actually doing it, are two different things.
They didn't threaten to go after people. They passed a law. Laws are useless if not enforced, but for the most part, they expect us to be responsible, law-abiding citizens, and to trust that their decisions are right for the land we asked them to manage. But they would not likely take you to court per se... as HZOI experienced, they would most likely cite you with a ticket. If you ignored that citation, the ride would probably get rougher for you.
Link to comment

Depending on the NPS LEO, I suspect they would press charges against the cache owner. The interaction with the website would merely be a request to remove the Listong from the website.

 

And request any and all account information of the cache owner.

 

If you have ever been a Premium Member you left a nice paper trail for them.

 

That would require a court order for them to release that information, unless the company has no respect for the privacy of their members.

 

And considering the fact that most park services are low on cash to start with, wasting money going after people for doing things they don't like, which aren't a violation of any actual "law" in most cases, seems pretty unlikely to me.

 

Threatening to go after people, and actually doing it, are two different things.

 

I'd wager it would be no problem for them to obtain the warrant.

 

There certainly are laws against littering, and for the NPS AT THIS TIME, Geocaching is nothing more than organized littering.

 

(rant)

I have NO respect for litterers. Those who would throw trash out in our National Parks should receive punishment far beyond what the law allows.

(/rant)

 

Certainly we know Geocaching is not really littering, but in order to change that perception we must behave ourselves and try to work within the system.

Link to comment

Problem is, it isn't littering. You would have to define littering much more specifically for it to be considered such, since leaving a functional container with a purpose is much different from leaving something which is considered trash by the majority of people who would come across it.

 

Candy wrapper? Trash. Empty pop bottle? Trash. Container with a specific purpose that people are coming to find, swap things into/out of, and return? Not trash. Not by any definition I can think of.

 

As for considering them abandoned property, in no way are they abandoned - they are left with a purpose, and an intent (as evidenced by the guidelines of the website listing it, and your acknowledgment of the guidelines by checking the boxes in the listing pre-publication) to maintain, check on, and retrieve eventually.

 

As for working within the system, I don't consider 2 approved caches, and a bunch of people who say "Nope" to be working within the system - it is bowing to a higher authority who thinks they know better how to manage lands which belong to us as taxpaying citizens.

 

Honestly - I don't have a problem with the fact that they don't want them. I don't agree, but that is their decision. However, this website has a double standard - "The cache is yours and you are responsible for it and for making sure it is somewhere it is supposed to be, but we are going to not list ones we don't think meet the guidelines." That's a oxymoron - you can't say it's my responsibility, but then tell me you're enforcing rules that aren't yours because... well, because you seem to think it's your responsibility. Either take responsibility for the listings (which they won't - too much liability of course), or let us take responsibility for the listings (and stop not approving things you don't like, or don't meet your interpretation of some reasonably fuzzy guidelines in some cases). Don't say one thing and do another.

 

Opencaching.com may be a more viable option in this situation - if there really are no reviewers checking listings before they're published, maybe we may see a shift in how listings are treated here, depending on how well their site works out. No idea now, but who knows. A different model may be better.

Link to comment

YOU may not see it as trash, but to someone who has no interest in Geocaching, a container in the forest with a bunch of carp in it is trash. The eye of the beholder and whatnot.

 

You do seem to be trying to stir a bit of an argument, but I actually think it might be one worth stirring a bit.

 

GS has obliged the request of NPS to not publish caches on it's property in order to make the hobby look better. There's nothing wrong with that.

 

Let's say you did live near a NP and for the sake of argument, there is no NPS guideline. You place a geocache on NPS land and they find it. They remove it. You rehide it. They remove it. They know it's coming because they have a PM somewhere and keep an eye on their land, as they are aware of the game and don't want it played on their land. (I'm aware it's "our" land, but somebody's got to manage it) How many times will you replace the cache when you know it's not wanted? How many trips will you make out to the same location, possibly doing damage to the environment every time just to replace the gamepiece that you know isn't supposed to be there? Then comes the problem of the tickets you could receive. Are you going to pay them, or are you going to waste time and money claiming that even though you know it's not supposed to be there, you think it should be so you don't think you should pay the ticket? What about vacation caches that get dropped and not maintained, actually becoming trash but not being taken care of?

 

Like I said before, it's okay for GS to set up their rules in order for their game to be seen in the best light possible by the most parties possible.

 

As a side note, I believe it was you earlier who said that Walmart micros haven't hurt the game. I disagree. A different debate, I'm well aware, but just thought I'd throw it in here.

 

Nice topic BTW.

Link to comment
Certainly we know Geocaching is not really littering, but in order to change that perception we must behave ourselves and try to work within the system.

 

Along with littering, there are plenty of NPS managers who believe that if they allow physical geocaches, there will be hordes of cachers showing up with shovels and pick-axes to either bury or dig up a cache. It's a tough perception to overcome and the onus is on us to overcome it.

 

Opencaching.com may be a more viable option in this situation - if there really are no reviewers checking listings before they're published, maybe we may see a shift in how listings are treated here, depending on how well their site works out. No idea now, but who knows. A different model may be better.

 

I would hope that cachers aren't looking at opencaching.com as a loophole to listing caches in National Parks. That would be a horrible idea and one that would go a long ways towards making sure physical caches will never be allowed in NPS lands. It's more important to get NPS managers to say yes to geocaching in general than to do an end around because a new site pops up.

Link to comment

While a few national parks have allowed physical caches, I suspect that it will be a long time before caching becomes generally accepted.  The superintendent in my local NPS parkland equates caching with litter and an unacceptable environmental impact.  Several years ago, they removed 95% of the grandfathered physical caches in the park.  They have not requested virtual caches to be removed and have approved earthcaches, but beyond that - not on his watch.

 

Problem is, it isn't littering. You would have to define littering . . . . As for considering them abandoned property, in no way are they abandoned. . . . 

 

Littering can be a relatively broad concept.  A local land agency rules define littering as including leaving or placing any object without authorization; some define abandonment as leaving property unattended for 12 hours without permission.  Neither category was written with caching in mind, but caches could fall into them depending on how a particular jurisdiction defines it.

 

I have not looked up the NPS regulations on littering, but NPS policy restricts geocaching, letterboxing, and location based games, leaving it to the specific land managers to determine if they should be allowed. As written, the policy includes some erroneous assumptions (based on unfortunate events) and is perhaps more favorable to letterboxing, yet the requirement for permission is not "fuzzy."

 

Whether following a particular policy is "bowing to a higher authority" is a philosophic issue that I do not expect either Groundspeak or Garmin will ever take on - although Jeremy has doubted whether virtuals should be subject to permission.  Opencaching.us does not allow traditional caches placed where containers are forbidden, including NPS lands. I would be surpised if any listing service said otherwise, but without reviewers Garmin would not remove the listing until after it was published and brought to their attention.

Edited by mulvaney
Link to comment
Certainly we know Geocaching is not really littering, but in order to change that perception we must behave ourselves and try to work within the system.

 

Along with littering, there are plenty of NPS managers who believe that if they allow physical geocaches, there will be hordes of cachers showing up with shovels and pick-axes to either bury or dig up a cache. It's a tough perception to overcome and the onus is on us to overcome it.

 

Opencaching.com may be a more viable option in this situation - if there really are no reviewers checking listings before they're published, maybe we may see a shift in how listings are treated here, depending on how well their site works out. No idea now, but who knows. A different model may be better.

 

I would hope that cachers aren't looking at opencaching.com as a loophole to listing caches in National Parks. That would be a horrible idea and one that would go a long ways towards making sure physical caches will never be allowed in NPS lands. It's more important to get NPS managers to say yes to geocaching in general than to do an end around because a new site pops up.

 

Actually, what I am hoping is that opencaching.com is looking at reviewers as not a necessary evil, but not necessary at all, and allow for caches to be placed in places where Reviewers typically have shied away from allowing caches.

Link to comment
Actually, what I am hoping is that opencaching.com is looking at reviewers as not a necessary evil, but not necessary at all, and allow for caches to be placed in places where Reviewers typically have shied away from allowing caches.

 

They have of course removed listings after they were published. As I mentioned above, I don't see Garmin taking on the NPS no matter how "open" their site claims to be. In some ways, their guidelines are more restrictive.

Edited by mulvaney
Link to comment
Actually, what I am hoping is that opencaching.com is looking at reviewers as not a necessary evil, but not necessary at all, and allow for caches to be placed in places where Reviewers typically have shied away from allowing caches.

 

Sure, great idea. Now we can put them on active railroad tracks, wilderness areas, protected wetlands, private property w/o permission.

 

Anarchy is a wonderful thing.

Link to comment
Actually, what I am hoping is that opencaching.com is looking at reviewers as not a necessary evil, but not necessary at all, and allow for caches to be placed in places where Reviewers typically have shied away from allowing caches.

 

They have of course removed listings after they were published. As I mentioned above, I don't see Garmin taking on the NPS no matter how "open" their site claims to be. In some ways, their guidelines are more restrictive.

I don't think FireRef is saying that he expects Garmin to go to bad for his viewpoint... just for them to look the other way while illicit NSP caches are hidden and listed on Garmin's site.

 

FireRef... just write your congressmen. Going all vigilante on NSP caches is only going to make the matter much, much worse at a time when the old wounds finally seem to be healing a little.

Link to comment
When people decided they didn't like the FCC rules on CB radio, they bucked. They got radios and didn't get licenses. The FCC eventually realized it was a bad decision, and made one license for everyone, instead of prosecuting tens of thousands of people "illegally" using CB's.

 

That's a whole different animal. In your example, people were carrying out an activity in their private residences or vehicles. In order to enforce that rule, the FCC would have had to roll around with triangulation vehicles and ferret out the broadcasters.

 

That example does not translate to leaving geocaches on park land. There's no need for the Park Service to go looking for you -- the basic facts about you and your cache listing are already on the internet. All the Park Service would need to do is set up instant notifications. I doubt they'd even need to fund a premium membership, I bet there are dozens of park staffers who cache. Then all they need to do is start picking the more egregious offenders and decide which ones would best serve as a warning to others.

 

Depending on the NPS LEO, I suspect they would press charges against the cache owner. The interaction with the website would merely be a request to remove the Listong from the website.

And request any and all account information of the cache owner.

 

If you have ever been a Premium Member you left a nice paper trail for them.

That would require a court order for them to release that information, unless the company has no respect for the privacy of their members.

 

And considering the fact that most park services are low on cash to start with, wasting money going after people for doing things they don't like, which aren't a violation of any actual "law" in most cases, seems pretty unlikely to me.

 

Threatening to go after people, and actually doing it, are two different things.

 

Getting a warrant for a cacher's contact information would be easy. Leaving caches without permission is prohibited, it's a criminal violation. Warrants are based on probable cause -- that is, the applicant must have a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed and that a person, property, or information connected to the crime is at the place named in the warrant. If I was investigating a cache on park land, I'd come up with the coordinates, log on to the site, do a proximity search, determine which cache it likely was, then go from there. If I couldn't determine it readily (let's say as an investigator I only have a free account and it's a premium members only cache, or it's the final to a puzzle or a multi), I'd contact a reviewer, give them the coordinates, then have them tell me which cache it was. I'd document all this in an affidavit, submit it to the judge, and serve it on Groundspeak, and I'd get all the information I needed. Probably take me about a half hour total from getting the coordinates from park staff to submitting the warrant application to a federal magistrate.

 

Hypothetically, if I were prosecuting you for a cache you placed in a national park, I'd want to show that the cache was placed in willful disregard of the rule against placing caches in national parks without permission. So I'd probably look into your other caches to see if you had permission to hide them, especially those that are on state land. And I could spin this either way. I don't see any of your caches that look like they were hidden without permission in a place that needed it, but I did find a few caches that you had to get a specific permit for, like this one. I'd use that to show that you knew you needed permission to place caches on some public lands but you did it anyway. (I'd probably get copies of this forum thread, too.)

 

Now, that's an advanced scenario. As I mentioned above, this would probably just start out with a ticket. But if you refused to pay it, that'd be all I needed to roll my sleeves up. Prosecutors love making an example out of people -- it only takes one conviction, and it'll have a deterrent effect, stopping who knows how many folks from doing the same thing.

 

As far as your budgetary argument, it's moot. The Park Service doesn't have to worry about spending money on prosecuting cases -- that's what the Department of Justice is for. They might have to spend some time helping the US Attorey's office prepare for the case, but that's it.

 

As for considering them abandoned property, in no way are they abandoned - they are left with a purpose, and an intent (as evidenced by the guidelines of the website listing it, and your acknowledgment of the guidelines by checking the boxes in the listing pre-publication) to maintain, check on, and retrieve eventually.

The rule isn't just about abandoned property. I included the cite so that you could go look it up yourself. From your response, I surmise that you did not, so here's the pertinent language of the section for you, straight out of the CFR.

 

TITLE 36--PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC PROPERTY

CHAPTER I--NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

PART 2_RESOURCE PROTECTION, PUBLIC USE AND RECREATION--Table of Contents

 

Sec. 2.22 Property.

 

(a) The following are prohibited:

(1) Abandoning property.

(2) 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.

(emphasis added)

 

Whether or not geocaches can be considered "abandoned," they are most certainly covered by the prohibition on "unattended property."

 

In case it wasn't clear from my earlier post, I am a government attorney with some experience in the matter, as well as a guy who's been ticketed for doing things I wasn't supposed to do in a national park. I know how the federal judicial system works in cases like this, and I have in fact prosecuted similar cases in this system.

 

We can certainly keep debating the facts on this -- I'm an attorney, I like to argue -- but I'm fairly confident that it could go down in one of the ways I've set forth if the Park Service wanted to pursue it, and I'm also fairly certain they would pursue it if people just start flouting the law. As above, they only need to pursue formal charges against a handful of cachers, and it'll serve as a warning for the rest of the geocaching community.

Link to comment

:)

I'm not an expert on law. However, I have to wade in on this one.

 

When I was a kid, if I wanted to do something, there was a protocol to achieving my goal. First, I asked if I was allowed to do whatever it was. I was usually told YES, or NO, depending on the authority I was required to ask, and their opinion of whether I should be permitted. At the earliest stages of that learning experience, if I got NO for an answer, I would accept it and move on. . It's when I got full of beans, and decided that wasn't a good enough answer, that I got lesson two. If I got NO for an answer, I would ask "Why?" and 10 times out of 9, Mr. or Ms. Authority would say "Because I said so. Later, it became "Because I said so." "Why?" WHACK! across the mouth for being insubordinate. Then, when I got 10 feet tall and bulletproof, and did it anyway, well, then my grandmother taught me the Circle Dance. You know, the dance that involves a peach switch and her holding one hand up over your head? I didn't realize yet my grandmother was still taller at 4'10" After I got older, disregard for authority only garnered more severe punishment, some of which was borderline child abuse. What I did learn, though, through all of it, is that "Because I said so" IS a valid reason, and should not be challenged unless it comes from an underling.

 

While the park ranger (theoretically) cannot whack you in the mouth because you disagree with him, yes, he can write you a ticket, or if you get belligerent enough, he CAN, and probably WILL have you jailed. Depending on the remoteness of the location your disagreement, there may be some correlation to the caliber of weapon he's carrying. So "Because I said so" is on the signs, on the internet, and certainly in the Code of Federal Regulations, the tickets/fines/jail time are the parallels to the WHACK in the mouth I got.

 

I may not be the brightest lightbulb in the box, but I do understand there is a price for insubordination, and certainly for wanton disregard for the law. One I'm not willing to pay. It's that usurping of authority part of this game that I don't enjoy at all. Challenge my mind. Challenge my body. But leave my nerve out of it. I'm out there to relax, not to see if I can get away with something. I'm more interested in trying to get AWAY from something stressful than seeing how much more trouble I can get myself into.

 

There is a HOST of things our government does that I don't agree with. Some I do agree with. The people of this land elected the people that made up the CFR and all the other laws to go with it. If it's a stupid law, it was probably a stupid person that thought it up. Worse yet, stupid people voted to put that person in charge. Do we see the pattern yet? Yes, the public lands DO belong to us tax payers, all 300 Million of us. I don't want geocaching on my part of the land governed by NPS, "BECAUSE THEY SAID SO", and now, so do I. The other 299,999,999 can vote against me, but STILL, my rights for my part of the ownership of that land are protected.

 

The NPS bases their posture on what "the people" want. Now, granted, that's probably still "the people" of the 1960's who were afraid of the litter, etc, etc. It REALLY ticks me off to see graffiti and other damage done to natural wonders that are MILLIONS of years old. I'm not a tree hugger, but, I do respect the treasures of our environment, especially the ones that make us go WOW. I've been to Mammoth cave. Graffiti/vandalism. I've been to DeSoto Caverns. Graffiti/vandalism. I've been to Ruby Falls. Graffiti/vandalism. By other people that were invited to come there by advertising. If such continues, then we'll certainly face another debacle like the current one with the TSA, where we'll turn NPS rangers into Mother Nature's Gestapo with strip search gates at the entrances, and background checks for anyone that wants to fish.

 

As a closer, I'm also all TOO familiar of what the FCC can do about CB radio, even when the problem is the neighbor's television set. I DID get a letter, I DID get my station inspected, and it was AFTER licensing was no longer required. If your government wants to find you, they CAN, they WILL. Quickly. Are you willing to get banished from EVERY national park, both manmade and natural? What's putting a cache wherever you want worth to you? Freedom means a lot of different things. One thing it does NOT mean is being able to do as we darn well please.

 

Just my .02 worth.

Edited by RoadRoach58
Link to comment
Actually, what I am hoping is that opencaching.com is looking at reviewers as not a necessary evil, but not necessary at all, and allow for caches to be placed in places where Reviewers typically have shied away from allowing caches.

 

That would be all fine and good if we had the ability to police ourselves. Just going off the number of threads that pop up about buried caches shows me that we don't have that level of restraint yet. We need a big brother to keep us from giving ourselves enough rope to hang ourselves with.

 

I may not agree with every guideline that GC.com has but I do understand the intent. Reviewers don't shy away from publishing caches if they meet the hiding guidelines. They shy away from publishing caches that hiders are trying to sneak past the guidelines.

Link to comment

I may not agree with every guideline that GC.com has but I do understand the intent. Reviewers don't shy away from publishing caches if they meet the hiding guidelines. They shy away from publishing caches that hiders are trying to sneak past the guidelines.

 

Garmin's guidelines are modeled on the ones here. And in terms of the subject of this thread, they are even more restrictive, stating "the U.S. National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service both prohibit geocaching." This is not exactly accurate. Without reviewers, Garmin msy publish caches that do not conform with their guidelines but they will remove caches that are brought to their attention.

 

Certainly, if I notice opencaches (.com) published on NPS land in my area (where traditional caching is not petmitted) I would notify Garmin. I don't need our local land managers becoming even more entrenched. But NPS policy states that staff should be "vigilant and alert" to caches posted on the web without prior authorization. It would not surprise me if a park official were monitoring garmin.

 

Even if you can post hundreds of NPS caches on garmin's site - at least for a time - I would think they would tire of people using their site and deliberately ignoring their rules. Ultimately, I don't see that a "cache in" will lead to a policy change or be equated with a moral cause. I have done civil disobedience and defended those who do. But not for the right to leave a container in parklands.

Edited by mulvaney
Link to comment

I have been thinking about this for a while, and am curious as to how people feel about this.

 

I know NPS hides are prohibited (National Park Service), because they don't like the idea, and I also understand the history, such as concerns over buried caches, et....

......

 

Actually caches are not banned on NPS land. They have a procedure in place [Policy Review GPS-based Recreational Activities in National Park Areas] that if followed can result in a physical cache placement if you have a site manager that will work with you. I have had 4 in place since last winter, two of which were placed at their request. You'll need to find a park manager that is willing to take the time to read and understand their own procedures and it will help if you place caches in a way that can add to the park visitors experience that falls within that particular park's objectives.

Link to comment

I may not agree with every guideline that GC.com has but I do understand the intent. Reviewers don't shy away from publishing caches if they meet the hiding guidelines. They shy away from publishing caches that hiders are trying to sneak past the guidelines.

 

Garmin's guidelines are modeled on the ones here. And in terms of the subject of this thread, they are even more restrictive, stating "the U.S. National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service both prohibit geocaching." This is not exactly accurate. Without reviewers, Garmin msy publish caches that do not conform with their guidelines but they will remove caches that are brought to their attention.

 

Certainly, if I notice opencaches (.com) published on NPS land in my area (where traditional caching is not petmitted) I would notify Garmin. I don't need our local land managers becoming even more entrenched. But NPS policy states that staff should be "vigilant and alert" to caches posted on the web without prior authorization. It would not surprise me if a park official were monitoring garmin.

 

Even if you can post hundreds of NPS caches on garmin's site - at least for a time - I would think they would tire of people using their site and deliberately ignoring their rules. Ultimately, I don't see that a "cache in" will lead to a policy change or be equated with a moral cause. I have done civil disobedience and defended those who do. But not for the right to leave a container in parklands.

I work with the NPS in the development of virtual caches, which are allowed with permission from the land manager. I also list caches on OpenCaching.com and I would report a illegal cache. :huh: We geocachers don't want a bad name, it will only cause more restrictions to our hobby that is becoming a National recreation.

Link to comment

I have no problem working with anyone to achieve a goal.

 

And I am not known for actually breaking rules - just questioning them. Loudly.

 

I'm glad it seems some NPS managers are willing to work with us.

 

I do want to mention, however, that as a kid, and as an adult, I never accepted (or now accept) "Because I said so.", and I don't use it. I refuse. We don't have a king or god in charge of us, under any circumstances I am aware of. I feel a reason should always be behind any decision, and random "Because that's the way I want it and I'm in charge and you have to live with it" is never a good reason for anything. If it's for my safety, explain that. If it's because it's illegal, say that. If it's simply because you don't want me to, not good enough.

 

Some examples: Little kid wants to play in the street - they shouldn't, because it's unsafe - not because "I said you can't". I want to place a geocache on someone's private property, and they don't want me to, it's illegal because I don't have legal access to the property, not "Because I don't want you here."

 

NPS doesn't want geocaches because they say so... because of a mistaken belief. No reason not to question and challenge them on it. Now, actually putting one out? That's violating a rule/law. But questioning that rule/law? Nothing wrong there.

 

I would honestly love to see them try to ban virtual hides (should they ever "actually" come back), or waypoints on a multi-cache. There would be some serious enforcement problems with this one.

Link to comment

NPS doesn't want geocaches because they say so...

 

Perhaps it's different in your part of the Nation, but the usual response I receive from such inquiries has more to do with the following:

 

National Park Service Mission Statement

 

The fact that they perceive Geocaching to be contrary to that Mission, doesn't surprise me in the least, as many of the recreational activities I pursue run up against such resistance on occasion.

 

I would honestly love to see them try to ban virtual hides...

 

Actually, my experience with some Earthcache submissions would seem to support this premise. Of four locations that I submitted to the Resource Ranger of one Park, they *requested* that I not submit two of the locations due to concerns of overuse and unacceptable impacts. In general, the Park appeared to have a fairly friendly posture regarding the EC program, but they did prefer to know what sites were getting posted in order to monitor potential impacts to the area, to make sure the Listings adhered to the Principles of Leave No Trace.

 

There would be some serious enforcement problems with this one.

 

I guess so, but I would rather they spend resources on something more meaningful than having a Ranger spend time sitting at a desk browsing the internet for potential infractions :huh:

Link to comment

NPS doesn't want geocaches because they say so... because of a mistaken belief. No reason not to question and challenge them on it. Now, actually putting one out? That's violating a rule/law. But questioning that rule/law? Nothing wrong there.

 

NPS policy encourages contact and discussion. Park managers are reminded of the Director's "commitment to civic engagement and public involvement." The policy states, "It is in our interest to establish ongoing and personal communication with the GPS user community, as we have with other park visitors. To this end, several NPS staff have met with GPS user representatives to foster better understanding about issues, trends and concerns on both sides. . . . More often than not, candid discussion can produce positive results for everyone."

 

One of the advantages of earthcaching has been that it has opened communication with NPS park managers. In seeking permission, I have had the opportunity to learn why they oppose traditional caches, respond to that, suggest alternatives, and the like. There have been examples in both state and national parks, where that has led to traditional caching being approved. Unfortunately, I am a long way from that here.

 

I know that Touchstone and others have been involved with CITO events in Yosemite. My impression is that the park is unlikely to approve traditional caching in the foreseeable future, but these kind of events probably do more than anything else to foster relationships and build trust between park managers and cachers. And to me, that is the grondwork to creating a change in policy.

Edited by mulvaney
Link to comment
The fact that they perceive Geocaching to be contrary to that Mission...

If this is the case why are some parks allowing caches?

 

It would seem geocaching is, in fact, in line with their mission statement. I believe it's the individual park director who is the one who welcomes or rejects geocaching.

 

Many NPS parks, and most parks in general, have only small percentages of the park that is actually sensitive to visitors. The rest is wide open. Of the parks I've interacted with this has been the case. "Don't place caches here, but the rest of all of this is open. Just let me know where they are." Easy and straight forward.

 

BTW, this thread isn't really about the NPS, but any land where there is an established policy that Groundspeak follows. If Groundspeak is going to have a "review before publish" policy then they are responsible for making sure it's a legal placement as far as they know.

Link to comment
The fact that they some NPS Managers perceive Geocaching to be contrary to that Mission...

If this is the case why are some parks allowing caches?

 

Fixed :huh:

 

BTW, this thread isn't really about the NPS, ...

 

My apologies. The Title of the thread and the OP's subsequent posts seemed to focus on the NPS policy. Considering the vast majority of NPS and NFWS managed lands have a fairly restrictive policy regarding physical cache placements, it would appear to be "low hanging fruit" for Forum fodder.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Followers 1
×
×
  • Create New...