Rico and The Fiddler Posted July 30, 2002 Share Posted July 30, 2002 This is on the front page of the Orange County Califonia Register news paper today. They handled it pretty evenly I think, but the potential for harm to our game is evident. If we don't all follow the rules about where we place our caches as well as show some sensitivity to the enviroment, we could all suffer the consequenses. I don't want to get on a soapbox, but even if you are placing a cache in a non regulated area, consider the impact of cachers tromping through the surrounding brush etc. Also, when searching for a cache, look up from the GPSr for a minute or two and try to tread lightly with sensitivity to the local enviroment. The new game in town: habitat damage A game that tests navigational skills also gives rangers headaches. July 30, 2002 By PAT BRENNAN The Orange County Register They began as faint tracks in the brush - perhaps made by animals, O'Neill Wilderness Park ranger Bobbie Calli thought at first. But within a few weeks, as she watched anxiously, they grew into wide scars cutting through sensitive habitat. And where the new paths ended, she found small containers filled with knickknacks. "They were just getting worse, getting wider, getting deeper," Calli said of the paths. "Then, all of a sudden, fences were being cut." It was all part of a game called Geocaching, one that is catching on around the nation and the world. And it sounds like harmless fun: toys, key chains, cameras, journals and other items are placed inside containers, which are hidden in the wilderness. Then, clues about where to find the containers are placed on the Geocaching Web site. Players use handheld satellite tracking instruments called GPS units to find the caches, taking out a few items and putting in some others. But Geocaching, Calli said, has prompted people to bushwhack through the park's scrub brush, not only damaging native plants and animal habitat but unwittingly tracking in invasive, non-native plant seeds that could take root and spread. "The illegal trails caused by people searching for just that one (cache) measured at least a quarter of a mile," she said. Problems linked to Geocaching have been reported at other county wilderness parks, including Aliso & Wood Canyons Regional Wilderness Park and Whiting Ranch Park, said Bruce Buchman, a county parks district superintendent. Ranger Tom Maloney at Aliso & Wood Canyons said he has removed sites from sensitive areas and allowed one to stay after exchanging e-mail with organizers. Rangers said they aren't opposed to the game - they just want to protect native plants and animals. Deer, bobcats, and native birds and rodents can be found in the O'Neill area and other county wilderness parks. "It's not like they're maliciously trying to hurt the park," Calli said. "They really simply don't know any better." Calli has removed three of the caches at O'Neill park in eastern Orange County, the most recent within the past two weeks, and believes there are still two more she hasn't found. She has put up signs warning players that the caches are gone. And she's keeping the caches she's found - including a Tupperware container and an old ammunition box - at the front office, hoping the owners will reclaim them. The game's organizers say their guidelines warn against damaging native habitat or installing caches without permission from property managers or owners. "We have a policy of being very environmentally aware," said Elias Alvord, a technical expert who helps run the Geo caching Web site. But they acknowledge that they've got their hands full simply trying to update their Web site with new cache locations and clues. The 2-year-old game's popularity is growing, and the most caches of any state - some 4,000 - are found in California. "There are well over 100,000 people playing the game worldwide," said Bryan Roth, who handles business development at Groundspeak, a Seattle company that runs the game. "It's in 134 foreign countries, and there are 24,000 ... caches worldwide." No one has approached the rangers, Calli said, to ask permission to install caches at O'Neill. "It would be nice if they would talk to us," Calli said. "We could work with them to figure out a place where they could hide it, and where we would not end up with a bunch of illegal trails." Quote Link to comment
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