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AbrachHutchison

The Right to Roam - EarthCache Permission Required?

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I am looking at creating two EarthCaches in Southern Scotland. Both are in areas that are openly and frequently accessed by members of the public, with well-established paths and visitors centres.

 

With the Land Reform Access Act 2003 applicable, regarding recreational and educational access, is landowner/manager permission still explicitly required?

 

https://www.scotways.com/faq/law-on-statutory-access-rights/228-what-activities-are-covered-by-rights-of-access

 

https://shepwedd.com/sites/default/files/The right to roam rights and responsibilities.pdf

 

Links for information regarding the freedom/right to roam.

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To get a meaningful response, rather than opinions from cachers who may live on another continent I'd suggest your best action would be to ask the experts : one of the UK geoawares.

See who has been the reviewer publishing some recent earthcaches in Scotland, and send them a message or e-mail including the location of your GZ.

 

I did that when I set an eathcache in the city, when I wondered if I'd need permission for each of several buildings beside public pavements I was hoping to sent cachers to, and got a swift and helpful reply.

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5 minutes ago, hal-an-tow said:

To get a meaningful response, rather than opinions from cachers who may live on another continent I'd suggest your best action would be to ask the experts : one of the UK geoawares.

See who has been the reviewer publishing some recent earthcaches in Scotland, and send them a message or e-mail including the location of your GZ.

 

I did that when I set an eathcache in the city, when I wondered if I'd need permission for each of several buildings beside public pavements I was hoping to sent cachers to, and got a swift and helpful reply.

Good point. I'll do so.

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I'd go so far as to say it's fine for other geocachers on other continents to comment on this...  Particularly seeing as how this is not about letter of the law - as far as I'm aware earthcaches do not specifically feature in the laws of any country on this planet.

 

If the public have right of access without requesting permission (for a wide range of recreational activities, notably some of which are not exactly zero-touch to the environment, such as rock-climbing), then there can be no logical or rational reason to require permission for an earthcache.  It should be noted that educational activities are specifically included, from the links you provided) - even more specifically mentioning geology and "supervised visits".  Crystal clear to me.

 

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2 hours ago, funkymunkyzone said:

I'd go so far as to say it's fine for other geocachers on other continents to comment on this...  Particularly seeing as how this is not about letter of the law - as far as I'm aware earthcaches do not specifically feature in the laws of any country on this planet.

 

If the public have right of access without requesting permission (for a wide range of recreational activities, notably some of which are not exactly zero-touch to the environment, such as rock-climbing), then there can be no logical or rational reason to require permission for an earthcache.  It should be noted that educational activities are specifically included, from the links you provided) - even more specifically mentioning geology and "supervised visits".  Crystal clear to me.

 

Probably a lot of rejected submissions based on such assumptions.  It's probably easier to spend a couple of minutes checking with the Land Manager, since I've noticed there are lots of regulations governing open spaces that are neither logical or rational.

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4 hours ago, funkymunkyzone said:

IIf the public have right of access without requesting permission (for a wide range of recreational activities, notably some of which are not exactly zero-touch to the environment, such as rock-climbing), then there can be no logical or rational reason to require permission for an earthcache.  It should be noted that educational activities are specifically included, from the links you provided) - even more specifically mentioning geology and "supervised visits".  Crystal clear to me.

 

If you tried that logic in a Pennsylvania State Park, you'd discover that not only is a written permit required, you'd need to pay $30 for it.

 

I could give you dozens of other examples, but that's a good one from close to my home.

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8 hours ago, Touchstone said:

Probably a lot of rejected submissions based on such assumptions.  It's probably easier to spend a couple of minutes checking with the Land Manager, since I've noticed there are lots of regulations governing open spaces that are neither logical or rational.

 

I'm glad I didn't read this before submitting my EC a few years back. It's in the intertidal zone on a headland between two public beaches, with lots of people constantly walking around there to get from one beach to the other. Being below high water mark, technically it's probably in Broken Bay, but whose jurisdiction is that? The state government and local council have been at loggerheads for years over whose responsibility our waterways are, as neither want to pay for dredging and other works. The state says it belongs to the council and the council says it belongs to the state. Luckily the Geoaware here published it without raising any permission issues, as finding someone in either bureacracy willing to stick their hand up and claim to be "Land Manager" for that location wouldn't be easy and would certainly take more than a couple of minutes.

 

National parks here are a lot easier for ECs, as the NSW National Parks Geocaching Policy actually says, "Virtual caching, including EarthCaching, does not involve leaving any type of physical object in a park, and does not require consent under the NPW Regulation. Although legal approval is not needed to develop virtual caches, virtual caches can impact on park values and visitor safety if they are located in unsuitable areas."

 

Edited by barefootjeff

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When discussing this, we should go back to the earthcache guidelines:

 

Quote

Landowner or land manager permission is required for most EarthCache locations.  Warn the manager that your EarthCache may bring more people to the site so they can plan for more visitors.

...

Public lands are managed in different ways throughout the world. ...  If you are certain that the location requires no permission, explain this in a Reviewer Note.

 

Part of getting permission is making sure that the landowner is good with where we are bringing people.  If I want to place an earthcache in Moab, Utah, Iusually a park manager is going to want to know whether there is a danger of visitors going off path and damaging cryptobiotic soil crust (which can take hundreds of years to recover).

 

That said, there are locations that aren't going to require landowner permission because of the nature of the property and of the geologic feature.  While we've gotten permission for most of our earthcaches, we have a few hides that have not required it.   And if you can demonstrate to the reviewer that this is the case, then they will let you know.

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5 hours ago, hzoi said:

When discussing this, we should go back to the earthcache guidelines:

 

Quote

Landowner or land manager permission is required for most EarthCache locations.  Warn the manager that your EarthCache may bring more people to the site so they can plan for more visitors.

...

 

 

 

This always has me scratching my head a bit. Looking back at the 27 ECs I've found, all were in public places that are likely to have hundreds if not thousands of muggles walking by every day. I can just imagine a Land Manager conversation going something like this:

 

"So okay, you've got this game where you want to bring people to look at the rocks and answer some questions. How many buses will you be wanting to park there at any one time?"

"Buses, no, there won't be any buses."

"So how will these, what did you call them, geocatchers get there?"

"Most will drive, I suppose, but a few might hike in."

"There's only parking for a hundred cars and we don't have the budget to increase that. How many are we talking about?"

"Maybe a dozen."

"A dozen at a time? Yeah, should be no problem although it might get a bit tight during the school holidays."

"No, a dozen a year."

"A - dozen - a - year."

"Yeah, in the first year that's likely, but there'll be less after that, maybe only two or three a year."

"Why are you here wasting my time?"

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17 hours ago, barefootjeff said:
22 hours ago, hzoi said:

When discussing this, we should go back to the earthcache guidelines:

 

Quote

Landowner or land manager permission is required for most EarthCache locations.  Warn the manager that your EarthCache may bring more people to the site so they can plan for more visitors.

...

 

 

 

This always has me scratching my head a bit. Looking back at the 27 ECs I've found, all were in public places that are likely to have hundreds if not thousands of muggles walking by every day. I can just imagine a Land Manager conversation going something like this:

 

"So okay, you've got this game where you want to bring people to look at the rocks and answer some questions. How many buses will you be wanting to park there at any one time?"

"Buses, no, there won't be any buses."

"So how will these, what did you call them, geocatchers get there?"

"Most will drive, I suppose, but a few might hike in."

"There's only parking for a hundred cars and we don't have the budget to increase that. How many are we talking about?"

"Maybe a dozen."

"A dozen at a time? Yeah, should be no problem although it might get a bit tight during the school holidays."

"No, a dozen a year."

"A - dozen - a - year."

"Yeah, in the first year that's likely, but there'll be less after that, maybe only two or three a year."

"Why are you here wasting my time?"

 

Read this in the context of bringing more visitors to a specific spot or via a specific route, like the cryptobiotic soil example I discussed in the section you omitted when you quoted my post.

 

Most of the time I get no pushback from land managers because I have been careful to pick spots that are accessible by the public and would have no additional impact.

 

In one case, the land manager just wanted me to put specific instructions not to block the access road.  OK, too easy.

 

In another, I featured a waterfall that has fragile travertine terraces.  The park has continually battled against people disregarding the signs and fences and blazing their own trails down to the bottom of the falls.  They wanted to make sure that the cache was designed to be done from the overlook and that I had specific language warning against trespassing.

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10 hours ago, hzoi said:

 

Read this in the context of bringing more visitors to a specific spot or via a specific route, like the cryptobiotic soil example I discussed in the section you omitted when you quoted my post.

 

Most of the time I get no pushback from land managers because I have been careful to pick spots that are accessible by the public and would have no additional impact.

 

In one case, the land manager just wanted me to put specific instructions not to block the access road.  OK, too easy.

 

In another, I featured a waterfall that has fragile travertine terraces.  The park has continually battled against people disregarding the signs and fences and blazing their own trails down to the bottom of the falls.  They wanted to make sure that the cache was designed to be done from the overlook and that I had specific language warning against trespassing.

 

I guess the thing that sticks in my craw is the bit in the guidelines about "most" ECs requiring permission. No doubt there are some ECs in fragile or sensitive areas where permission would be needed, but as I said, all the ones I've done are on public land, usually coastal rock shelves because that's where most of our interesting geology is exposed, which are accessed from public beaches where nobody cares about visitor numbers or where you can wander. In those places, cachers doing an EC would be an infinitesimal percentage of the people wandering around the area. Can you imagine the reaction you'd get if you wandered into the local council offices wanting written permission to take a bunch of mates to the beach? Places like this are where people are meant to go without any oversight.

 

In any event, trying to get formal written approval for anything on public lands here isn't trivial. The only people with authority to do that are high up in the bureaucratic pecking order and well away from the public interface. For example, getting a physical cache approved in a national park here requires it to be signed off by the Regional Director, but the application has to firstly go through a ranger as the directors don't deal directly with the public. The whole process usually takes several months at least. Fortunately the national parks geocaching policy specifically excludes ECs from needing formal approval, and I presume anyone asking a park ranger for permission to place an EC would just be told "you don't need it" because that's what their rules say.

 

Also there's a world of difference between allowing people to wander around a particular spot and giving formal approval for that. The original location I wanted to use for my recent challenge cache was next to a huge wind-eroded cave off the end of a service road in Brisbane Water National Park, but the ranger said that while I was free to go exploring there with my mates, and in fact they unofficially encourage that sort of thing, they couldn't give written permission for a cache there because the area hasn't been geologically assessed for the risk of rock falls. These days, nothing gets formally approved unless it ticks all the boxes within an existing policy framework or goes through the lengthy (and expensive) process of being cleared by the organisation's legal department. It's all about making sure someone else will get the blame if anything goes wrong. If I go to that cave on a whim and a rock falls on my head, it's my fault, death by misadventure, but if I go there to do a cache that national parks have approved in writing and a rock falls on my head, it's a bureaucrat's liability nightmare.

Edited by barefootjeff

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7 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

Can you imagine the reaction you'd get if you wandered into the local council offices wanting written permission to take a bunch of mates to the beach?

Yes I can, and the exchange has always been courteous.

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15 minutes ago, Touchstone said:
23 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

Can you imagine the reaction you'd get if you wandered into the local council offices wanting written permission to take a bunch of mates to the beach?

Yes I can, and the exchange has always been courteous.

 

Here, I'm sure the immediate reaction would be "You must be joking, mate!" and, if you persisted, you'd be deemed a trouble-maker and escorted to the door. Front-line staff don't have the authority to give written permission for anything that doesn't have a pre-existing form they can stamp and those that do have legal authority don't want to be bothered by such trivial things as a few people going to a public beach to look at some rocks.

Edited by barefootjeff

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40 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

 

Here, I'm sure the immediate reaction would be "You must be joking, mate!" and, if you persisted, you'd be deemed a trouble-maker and escorted to the door. Front-line staff don't have the authority to give written permission for anything that doesn't have a pre-existing form they can stamp and those that do have legal authority don't want to be bothered by such trivial things as a few people going to a public beach to look at some rocks.

I'm not sure what your reference to "written permission" pertains to.  For the most part, my dealings have been with mid level staff.  Examples are Backcountry Rangers, NPS Unit Supervisors, Interpretive Rangers and Resource Management Rangers.  I've always supplied contact information in my Notes to the Reviewer, which usually includes Name, Title, Address, Phone Number and/or email address.

 

In general, I'm not usually considered a "trouble-maker", but I do enjoy a good joke.

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3 minutes ago, Touchstone said:

I'm not sure what your reference to "written permission" pertains to.  For the most part, my dealings have been with mid level staff.  Examples are Backcountry Rangers, NPS Unit Supervisors, Interpretive Rangers and Resource Management Rangers.  I've always supplied contact information in my Notes to the Reviewer, which usually includes Name, Title, Address, Phone Number and/or email address.

 

In general, I'm not usually considered a "trouble-maker", but I do enjoy a good joke.

 

When the reviewers here ask for permission, say for a physical cache in a national park or anywhere else such permission is needed, they want a pdf of the consent form signed by the appropriate authority (in the case of NSW national parks that's the Regional Director). Just giving them the name of a ranger who said it's okay isn't sufficient. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I presume a geoaware here would want something similar if they needed to see permission for an EC.

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I would assume that the geoaware for your area would follow the process put in place by the local Reviewer.  It's also a publicly available document, so while it may be annoying, it shouldn't be any big surprise:

 

https://wiki.Groundspeak.com/display/GEO/New+South+Wales

 

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/parks-reserves-and-protected-areas/park-policies/geocaching

 

Your energy might be better spent working with the NSW NP in updating their Policy so that it includes some less onerous process for Virtual and Earthcache types.  Kind of interesting aside, which you probably already know, but the very first Earthcache was placed in a NSW NP back in 2004!

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7 hours ago, Touchstone said:

Your energy might be better spent working with the NSW NP in updating their Policy so that it includes some less onerous process for Virtual and Earthcache types.  Kind of interesting aside, which you probably already know, but the very first Earthcache was placed in a NSW NP back in 2004!

 

Perhaps you misunderstood me, but as I said earlier, the NSW NP policy says that virtuals and ECs don't require any approval or permission, it's only physical caches that have to go through that long drawn-out process (which I doubt will change as it was a 5-year battle by Geocaching NSW to get their original total ban on caches overturned).

 

Quote

Virtual caching, including EarthCaching, does not involve leaving any type of physical object in a park, and does not require consent under the NPW Regulation. Although legal approval is not needed to develop virtual caches, virtual caches can impact on park values and visitor safety if they are located in unsuitable areas.

 

Edited by barefootjeff

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On 11/20/2019 at 5:21 AM, Touchstone said:

Your energy might be better spent working with the NSW NP in updating their Policy so that it includes some less onerous process for Virtual and Earthcache types.  Kind of interesting aside, which you probably already know, but the very first Earthcache was placed in a NSW NP back in 2004!

I'm not sure where this comment is coming from. barefootjeff's energy is currently being directed at correcting the comment in the guidelines that "most" ECs requiring permission specifically because there is no such requirement in his experience even in places that have significant permission requirements for physical caches.

 

I don't know how the decisions are made by reviewers or how places like parks view EarthCaches, but it seems obvious to me that the requirement for EarthCaches should be the same as for anyone publishing an article about the wonderful places in the park, since they are doing exactly the same thing: telling people to go to spot X and look at Y. Surely parks don't routinely complain about articles encouraging people to go to their park, do they? So if there really is often a permission requirement for most EarthCaches, I'd be puzzled about where it came from. It seems as if there'd be no problem unless GZ isn't in a public area.

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29 minutes ago, dprovan said:

I'm not sure where this comment is coming from. barefootjeff's energy is currently being directed at correcting the comment in the guidelines that "most" ECs requiring permission specifically because there is no such requirement in his experience even in places that have significant permission requirements for physical caches.

 

I don't know how the decisions are made by reviewers or how places like parks view EarthCaches, but it seems obvious to me that the requirement for EarthCaches should be the same as for anyone publishing an article about the wonderful places in the park, since they are doing exactly the same thing: telling people to go to spot X and look at Y. Surely parks don't routinely complain about articles encouraging people to go to their park, do they? So if there really is often a permission requirement for most EarthCaches, I'd be puzzled about where it came from. It seems as if there'd be no problem unless GZ isn't in a public area.

The requirement comes from the originators of Earthcaches, https://www.geosociety.org/GSA/fieldexp/EarthCache/guidelines/home.aspx

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3 hours ago, dprovan said:

Surely parks don't routinely complain about articles encouraging people to go to their park, do they?

Actually, yes they do.  I was asked by the BLM to Archive 3 of my EC's due to concerns regarding foot traffic to geologically sensitive areas (I was allowed to keep three others in less sensitive areas).  These were EC's I had permission to place by the previous Resource Ranger, but was subsequently revoked due to impact concerns.  It's there land to manage, so I grudgingly complied (courteously of course).

 

My original point is that the EC Reviewers were merely complying with stated polices that are readily available in links I provided.  If you have a problem with the policy, talk with the Land Manager to change it.  There's nothing in their public facing document that addresses EC's or Virtual caches, so I can't blame the local and EC Reviewers of taking the default position that regulates physical caches.  In other words, I would not presume.

 

But as barefootjeff stated, maybe I'm just misunderstanding the situation.

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I have occasionally had troubles making it sufficiently clear to land managers that there is no container attached to an earthcache (it would be extremely helpful if reviewers could include a link to a webpage for land managers describing earthcaches in detail, emphasizing the no container part), but once past that point, sometimes they choose not to approve the cache based on environmental factors, even when it is legal for the general public to go to the spot in question. I always comply with their decisions.  If I were desperate to have an earthcache in that area, I could always ask them for a different, more suitable spot, but I've never done that.

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On 11/20/2019 at 3:40 PM, Touchstone said:

I'm not sure what your reference to "written permission" pertains to.  For the most part, my dealings have been with mid level staff.  Examples are Backcountry Rangers, NPS Unit Supervisors, Interpretive Rangers and Resource Management Rangers.  I've always supplied contact information in my Notes to the Reviewer, which usually includes Name, Title, Address, Phone Number and/or email address.

 

The Help Centre page on ECs says where possible to include a copy of the email that they sent to you, which is what I meant by written permission. Here, I doubt the council rangers would have the authority to authorise caches, EC or physical, as their main role seems to be issuing parking infringement notices. All the decision-making processes in local government, at least at the lower and middle management levels, are governed by existing policy documents and, on the public-facing side, there's usually an associated form to complete and have stamped. It's the way bureaucracies work here. Anyone putting a "yes you can do that" in an official email when there's no policy covering it would most likely be disciplined by the council's legal department.

 

The thing I'm struggling to get my head around is the "most ECs need permission" in the guidelines. I'm well aware that there'll be some ECs in sensitive areas where permission would be required, but most? My own EC, which is fairly typical of the ones I've done, is at the base of a headland at the end of a public beach. There's a constant stream of people, usually with dogs and/or kids, walking around there. The headland itself is council land zoned for public recreation, with a walking track and several lookouts on top. Not only is it legal for people to go there, it's intended that they should, with multiple paved car parks along the beach to make it easy for them. I'd feel like a total goose fronting up at the council offices and asking for an email authorising a few dozen cachers to walk along the beach and look at the potholes on the end of the headland, and I doubt anyone would do that for fear of being held legally responsible if a cacher got swept away by a rogue wave.

 

image.png.65f23efdd532cd1228e01ee7ec3b8cca.png

 

Here. any areas that are environmentally sensitive are either incorporated into national parks, which have their own caching policy, or zoned as nature reserves where caches of any type aren't allowed. If on land zoned for public recreation, they'd probably be fenced off. The rest of it is just, well, open to the public to come and go as they please.

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I helped my nephew put out an Earthcache in a nearby county park.  Permission from the county park service was required.  (Guess that's our local rules.)  Took a fair amount of work with the county park service for them to approve.  "Correct this:  The iron was not just for munitions from the Revolutionary War to the present, but also for cast-iron products and implements."  And add "Please leave the magnetite in place."  Then they mentioned that they had checked out my other caches in the park.  

I was working on an Earthcache in a state park, but received no feedback from the State Park.  Oh, well.  Someone else got an Earthcache there, but not as interesting as mine.  That was a while later.  Guess the state park finally realized what was going on.

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11 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

zoned as nature reserves where caches of any type aren't allowed

That might vary between states and territories. I don't have any caches in nature reserves in the ACT, but others do, and it's my understanding they are allowed here.

 

Just check out the Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve. It's packed with caches.

https://www.geocaching.com/map/default.aspx?lat=-35.331817&lng=149.152183#?ll=-35.271243,149.160573&z=15

 

Or these reserves:

https://www.geocaching.com/map/default.aspx?lat=-35.331817&lng=149.152183#?ll=-35.179713,149.167598&z=14

Edited by Goldenwattle

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39 minutes ago, Goldenwattle said:
47 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

zoned as nature reserves where caches of any type aren't allowed

That might vary between states and territories. I don't have any caches in nature reserves in the ACT, but others do, and it's my understanding they are allowed here.

 

Yeah, it must be a state thing. Here anything officially designated as a Nature Reserve is off-limits, with the Google Earth overlay our reviewer (tiddalik) provides on the state Wiki showing them in orange.

 

image.png.710bdc343a0279320ebf285f953085dc.png

 

 

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On 11/18/2019 at 3:00 PM, Touchstone said:

Probably a lot of rejected submissions based on such assumptions.  It's probably easier to spend a couple of minutes checking with the Land Manager, since I've noticed there are lots of regulations governing open spaces that are neither logical or rational.

 

On 11/18/2019 at 4:57 PM, Keystone said:

If you tried that logic in a Pennsylvania State Park, you'd discover that not only is a written permit required, you'd need to pay $30 for it.

 

I could give you dozens of other examples, but that's a good one from close to my home.

 

Thanks but I actually read the rules first before I commented.  And it's nowhere near Pennsylvania either.  <facepalm>

 

In fact you guys have the wrong end of the stick.  Int he case of the OP, there are Land Owners/Managers who have a law that tells them they must provide public access, with a set of criteria of what that public access looks like and is for.

Edited by funkymunkyzone

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