Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 8
hydee

Geocaching On National Wildlife Refuges

Recommended Posts

Actually, the threat of GPS usage being banned could be seen as positive. Consider this, Garmin has just released a new unit that actually has a geocaching mode. GPS manufacturers are beginning to cater to the growing number of customers brought to them by the sport.

 

Sorry I fail to see how the banning the use of GPS can be a good thing. Although it may drag the GPS companies into the fray, this is something they should already be looking into and lobbying for. Garmin's (IMO) newer units are more geocache friendly (layout of screens, icon, etc.)... I figure they would step up and say someting. Does anyone really know if GPS companies doing any lobbying?

I never said that GPS usage being banned anywhere would be a good thing. I do however think that the threat of that happening in a time where geocaching is becoming a significant source of customers for GPS manufacturers might help the manufacturers to see the benefits of lobbying for geocaching.

And to answer your question, no. I have no idea if they are already involved, but I believe it would be in their best interest to get involved.

Share this post


Link to post
is not true. USF&W and not refused to talk with Groundspeak nor have they refused any explanations.

 

If you feel that you MUST write a letter, even after having been asked to wait, PLEASE, PLEASE, make sure that your information is accurate.

When this letter was written, that was the information that I had. Perhaps it needs a slight edit. What point of contact do we need? Isn't that what Congressmen and Senators are for?

Share this post


Link to post
Mea culpa. Virtuals can be as damaging as other caches. Your "bushwaking" for virtuals shows that either kind of geocaching has the potential to be damaging to an area.

 

You're assuming that bushwacking damages an area. Nearly every one of my caches requires buswacking and I challenge any one to find any real damage surrounding my caches. And I'm not talking about a broken twig.

 

Are there areas where it's inappropriate to place a cache? Sure. But I'm sure the vast majority of caches out there have little, or no real impact on the area. I've yet to find one, and believe me I look.

I'm not assuming anything. If you will note, I said bushwacking has the potential for being damaging. I agree that most caches have little or no impact on the areas. It is suprising how little it takes to damage some sensitive areas, however.

 

I also agree that caches should be allowed on BLM land and National Forests. It is the sensitive nature of the NWRs that should be protected. The impact may not be obvious to the lay person.

Share this post


Link to post

That geocaching is prohibited in Wildlife Areas comes as no surprise. Those particular areas have been set aside as a Preserve, and cachers in Phoenix, especially Team Tierra Buena, have known about this policy for a while.

Rather than write taunting and snide letters back to the department which oversees this ban on geocaching, a very nicely-worded invitation should be sent to present an overview of the activity, and to address any concerns about environmental impact.

Share this post


Link to post
Hunting is allowed in such areas as a contol on particular wildlife populations, in part because of the eradication of natural predators.  It is necessary to preserve a more natural balance of wildlife in the area.  (Thus furthering the purpose of the NWR.)

Natural balance of wildlife would INCLUDE having predators around. Eradicating the predators is anything but natural.

That is what I was trying to say. I guess that's why I'm not professional writer! It's not the hunting of the predators that is allowed, but the hunting of those species that the predators would have otherwise eaten. Proliferation of those prey species can and will damage the area much more than us geocachers. Just because hunting is allowed, it doesn't mean that the area doesn't need protecting the rest of the time. The hunting is part of the protection. I.e., if they don't hunt the deer, the deer will destroy the area those whooping cranes use to survive.

 

Did that make any more sense?

Share this post


Link to post

So someone walking through a "sensitive area" to find a virtual cache causes less damage than the same person looking for a real cache?

 

A virtual cache in a "sensitive area" will have less impact than a real cache in the same area?

 

Interesting how that happens. Can you please explain? Do the plants and animals in the area know that the seeker is looking for a virtual, rather than a real cache?

Interesting logic! Sounds like you qualify for a government job!!

 

Obviously the relevent part is areas that will allow hiking, hunting, bird watching ect. and NOT caching.

Share this post


Link to post

As was posted earlier write your Congressman.

http://www.statedemocracy.com

Find your Legislator

 

If we all get interested it will help in my opinion.

I have been working with my Congressman and Senator on some other matters, it is within the scope of the discussion here.

 

Just a side bar:

If any thingis placed in these areas it is a violation of the rule,well they have several things,that does not adhere to this rule.

Edited by GEO*Trailblazer 1

Share this post


Link to post
I cannot possibly imagine that Geocaching could be illegal on public property in the "land of the free". 

Why not? I keep hearing people claim they have the right to do what they want on "public property", but I've never seen anybody prove this is so. They may wish it were so. They may think it is so. But I see no evidence that this is so.

 

Assuming http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx...50cfr26_02.html represents law as legislated by the Congress of the US Government, it seems the US Fish and Wildlife Service is authorized to limit public entry and use.

 

Section 26.32 says:

"Recreational uses such as, but not limited to, sightseeing, nature

observation and photography, interpretive centers and exhibits, hunting

and fishing, bathing, boating, camping, ice skating, picnicking,

swimming, water skiing, and other similar activities may be permitted on

national wildlife refuges. When such uses are permitted the public will

be notified under the provisions of this subchapter C."

 

Note that it says "may be permitted", not "are permitted". That seems to allow them regulation of everything recreational, including geocaching.

 

Moving on to Section 26.41 states:

"What is the process for determining if a use of a national wildlife refuge is a compatible use?

 

The Refuge Manager will not initiate or permit a new use of a

national wildlife refuge or expand, renew, or extend an existing use of

a national wildlife refuge, unless the Refuge Manager has determined

that the use is a compatible use. This section provides guidelines for

making compatibility determinations, and procedures for documenting

compatibility determinations and for periodic review of compatibility

determinations. We will usually complete compatibility determinations as

part of the comprehensive conservation plan or step-down management plan

process for individual uses, specific use programs, or groups of related

uses described in the plan. We will make all compatibility

determinations in writing." (refer to the web site for details)

 

This section seems to outline a process for getting permission for "compatible use". Has anyone attempted this process with respect to geocaching? That seems a more resonable approach than running right out and getting yourself arrested just to "buck the system".

 

George

Edited by nincehelser

Share this post


Link to post

These are the uses the the FWS think are compatiable with the law:

 

From

Final Compatibility Regulations Pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act 1997

 

Wildlife-dependent recreational use, and Wildlife-dependent recreation mean a use of a national wildlife refuge involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, or environmental education and interpretation. The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd–668ee), specifies that these are the six priority general public uses of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

 

If we want to appeal the ban of Geocaching in the NWRS, our appeal for an exemption would have to meet these following NWRS guidelines

The use has been determined to be appropriate in a documented analysis by the Refuge Manager, with the Refuge Supervisor’s concurrence. This documented analysis will address the following 11 factors.

a. Does the use comply with applicable laws and regulations?

b. Is the use consistent with applicable Executive Orders and Department and Service policies?

c. Is the use consistent with refuge goals and objectives in an approved refuge management plan?

d. Has an earlier documented analysis not denied the use?

e. Is the use consistent with public safety?

f. Is the use manageable within available budget and staff?

g. Is the use consistent with other resource or management objectives?

h. Will the use be easy to control in the future?

i. Is the refuge the only place where this activity can reasonably occur?

j. Does the use contribute to the public’s understanding and appreciation of the refuge’s wildlife or cultural resources, or is the use beneficial to the refuge’s wildlife or cultural resources?

k. Can the use be accommodated without impairing existing wildlifedependent

recreational uses or reducing the potential to provide quality wildlifedependent recreation into the future?

 

If the answer is ‘‘no’’ to any of these questions, we will generally not allow

the use. If the answers are consistently ‘‘yes’’ to these questions, or, if not, if

there are compelling reasons why the Refuge Manager believes the use is

appropriate on the refuge, the Refuge Manager then prepares a written justification, and obtains concurrence from the Refuge Supervisor. Requiring

concurrence from the Refuge Supervisor will help us promote consistency within

the System. Uses determined to be appropriate are also reviewed for compatibility before they may be allowed on a refuge. Some recreational activities, while

wholesome and enjoyable, are not dependent on the presence of fish and

wildlife, nor dependent on the expectation of encountering fish and

wildlife. Many of these non-wildlifedependent recreational activities are often disruptive or harmful to fish, wildlife or plants, or may interfere with the use and enjoyment of a refuge by others engaged in wildlife-dependent recreation. These uses may more appropriately be conducted on private land, or other public lands not specifically dedicated for wildlife conservation.

Share this post


Link to post
Wildlife-dependent recreational use, and Wildlife-dependent recreation mean a use of a national wildlife refuge involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, or environmental education and interpretation.
So I guess jogging in a NWR would be prohibited. And hiking for pleasure, without the intent of observing wildlife.

Share this post


Link to post
Wildlife-dependent recreational use, and Wildlife-dependent recreation mean a use of a national wildlife refuge involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, or environmental education and interpretation.
So I guess jogging in a NWR would be prohibited. And hiking for pleasure, without the intent of observing wildlife.

Under a strict interpretation of the the valid uses according to the law, yes, jogging and casual hiking may not be permitted. There are National Wildlife Refuge areas where any entry is not allowed without a special use permit.

 

Interestingly enough, notice that trapping is not included in the 6 Wildlife Dependent Recreational Uses,Their guidelines discuss trapping and say it may be permitted but is not included under the coverage of the law.

 

Hunting is not even freely permitted in the Shiawassee NWR in Michigan and has separate dates for deer and goose "management" that are not the same as the state hunting seasons.

Share this post


Link to post
Interestingly enough, notice that trapping is not included in the 6 Wildlife Dependent Recreational Uses,Their guidelines discuss trapping and say it may be permitted but is not included under the coverage of the law.

Wouldn't trapping fall under the "economic use" rules? I've always thought of trapping as a way make money than as recreation.

 

George

Share this post


Link to post

One of the rules makes it virtually impossible to get this approved in those areas:

 

"i. Is the refuge the only place where this activity can reasonably occur?"

 

Quite obviously the answer is "No".

 

"If the answer is ‘‘no’’ to any of these questions, we will generally not allow

the use."

Edited by TEAM 360

Share this post


Link to post
i. Is the refuge the only place where this activity can reasonably occur?"

 

Quite obviously the answer is "No".

 

"If the answer is ‘‘no’’ to any of these questions, we will generally not allow

the use."

 

I think no would be the answer to almost any activity.

Share this post


Link to post

I live near some NWR areas, and some nice caches are being removed as a result of this decision. Sometime in the future I might want to replace a few of them with multi-caches whose initial stage(s) are virtuals on NWR land (within approved access areas) and whose final stage is physical but not placed on NWR land. The standard 'construct coordinates out of clues' multi we've all seen before. Can anyone (particularly approvers who might be reading this) see a problem with that?

Share this post


Link to post
I live near some NWR areas, and some nice caches are being removed as a result of this decision. Sometime in the future I might want to replace a few of them with multi-caches whose initial stage(s) are virtuals on NWR land (within approved access areas) and whose final stage is physical but not placed on NWR land. The standard 'construct coordinates out of clues' multi we've all seen before. Can anyone (particularly approvers who might be reading this) see a problem with that?

Ordinarily this is fine; in fact, we try to encourage multicaches of the type you described.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks for posting those guidelines Scook...

 

...our appeal for an exemption would have to meet these following NWRS guidelines

 

I see an easy case for geocaching. On the issue of 'only place', the answer is undeniably yes insofar as the property in question includes hiking, hunting, etc.

 

I think the critical goal to achieve is avoidance of an outright ban. A case-by-case determination would certainly be appropriate.

 

I had sent a letter right away, but would happily submit another one detailing geocaching's benefits in accord to those guidelines when our 'spearheaders' initiate our campaign. I would also suggest at that time a link on the main gc.com page directing those that ignore the forums to this issue.

 

Enjoy,

 

Randy

Share this post


Link to post
They can be, but not all are. I found virtuals that reqired that I go off trail to find them, including one that involved climbing a remote peak in a wilderness area and bushwacking several hundred yards through dense undergrowth. Real caches can also be placed along established trails and in parking lots. I know. I've found dozens.

 

My point is that the person who was trashing the idea of real caches in NWR's and promoting virtuals is using flawed reasoning.

They could be using flawed reasoning, but not all are. Virtuals are not *required* to be off-trail (even if some are) and so I'm sure approvers will take that into account when virtual caches are placed in NWR from here on out until policy is changed.

Share this post


Link to post

There is a lot of barking in here about "public property" and "fair use" and "making policy" and "geocaching isn't outlawed".

 

It is painfully obvious if you take an objective view of the quoted rules that at least 2 if not 3 of them do cover geocaching. It is often quoted in here that a well-maintained cache is the owner's/hider's property and you can't leave personal property in an NWR. The fact that *ONE* of the quoted rules is broached is all that matters. Until we can be covered as a compatible use, then we can't leave geocaches in NWR.

 

This system of lands was established *BY US* (through our elected officials) to protect a wide number of fowl species that were hunted for their plumes and nothing else. They have been extended to include ecosystems that we continually encroach on for a variety of reasons. The total lands included in the NWR system is currently 93 million acres. The US has 2.3 billion acres total. That's about 4% of the total. I can give up a few percent to the animals and plants.

 

We, as a whole, have decided to set aside some areas of land and water for the animals to have reliable habitation, free of most human interference.

 

Also, you should always read up on the full issues at stake before you toss accusations. The hunting allowed is not system-wide...it is not even refuge-wide...and in almost all cases, there are very strict regulations (hunter can not go further than 100 feet from designated area). The Refuge System is very welcoming of new patrons and I'm sure that if this is handled in the correct way, we too can enjoy the NWR system while geocaching. The current system has methods for getting things setup as compatible use and failing that, there is always the use of multi-step offset caching that people are fond of quoting when questions arise to virtual placement.

 

Until the other 2.21 billion acres of the US are covered with geocaches or we calmly become accepted by the Wildlife and Fish offices, I'm not sure why the fervor.

Share this post


Link to post

While caching, we all can pretty much agree, causes little long term damage if any, there seems to be a higher standard in refuges than would be in ordinary parks and rightly so. That will make managers more senstive to potential damage. Also, we're not the only ones who have an interest in Refuges. There are more powerful forces around a lot longer than us - call them "tree huggers' if you wish, but they are a force to deal with politically. Fact is, you don't know if it wasn't one of these organizatiojns that put pressure on the NWR who wrote the email.

 

To argue that caching should be allowed because this is a free country does not address whose freedom you're talking about. Our "freedom" is no more important than the "tree huggers" who might consider their freedom is being infringed if the NWR allows caching. It depends who ox is being gored. We are not a "free" country but a constitutional democracy. The majority sets the rules except as limited by the constitution and the Bill of Rights.

 

Until we can exert the kind of political influence like "tree huggers", or as caching becomes more widespread and the inppact understood truly for what it is, not much is going to happen.

 

Alan

Share this post


Link to post

Ok folks, in anticipation that we will have to send out some sort of mesage to FWS, I have drafted a form letter that I hope explains our position regarding Geocaching on land operated by the FSW. Without ranting or making threats.

 

My hope is that we can get the FSW to allow local land managers to deceide on a case by case basis, as not all of their land will be suitable for Geocaching. As oposed to a blanket ban.

 

Two posters, Doc Dean and Alan2 have pointed out, if we can exert some sort of influence, in a postive manner, we may be able to change the policy. I know this for a fact, when I was living in Florida we had a similar situation with a state agency that monitored and protected 500,000 acres of land. After a number of e-mails from local Geocachers, they reconsidered their ban and created a very effective poicy to allow Geocaching.

 

I am more than willing to give Hydee and company the week they have asked for. Beyond that point I think a message does need to be sent if FSW remains unwilling to resolve this. This will involve utilizing an e-mail tree to help get the word out.

 

I would like some feedback to see what changes should be considered in the form letter I have listed below.

 

Climbing off my soap box.

 

***********************

Dear XXXX,

 

I am an avid participant in the sport of Geocaching. In this sport, a person hides a container and then posts the coordinates on a Web page. Others then to try to find the container using a Global Positioning System (GPS) device. As such, the sport often involves hiking on land controlled by various government agencies. It has come to my attention that the US Fish and Wildlife Service has recently banned our activities from the land that they manage. Due to the following federal regulations:

16USC668dd, 50CFR 27.93, Abandonment of Property

16USC668dd, 50 CFR26.21a, Trespass

16USC668dd 50CFR 27.63 Search for and removal of other valued objects

16USC668dd 50 CFR 27.97 Private Operations

 

Due to the nature of Geocaching I do not feel that these regulations are completely applicable to this situation:

 

1. Abandoned property rules do not apply as no geocache is ever abandoned. Each geocache is maintained by the person who placed it, and monitored by each successive finder. Further, if said person were to ever abandon a cache for any reason, it would be promptly retrieved or adopted by another player.

2. Trespass: These are public lands. The FWS allows a wide range of activities on their lands including hiking, bird and animal watching, and hunting that must utilize a common set of guidelines to qualify as an acceptable activity. Geocaching involves many of the same principles as these activities and should be considered under those guidelines.

3. Search for and removal of valued objects relates to the removal of items such as musket balls or minerals. The contents of a geocache are established by the cache owner and are removed and replaced by each visiting Geocacher. They would never be considered valuable as the value if each individual item rarely exceeds one or two dollars

4. Private operations: The game is available free of charge to anyone. Computers with internet access are available at public libraries for use by the public. The game is, therefore, a very public game.

 

Our sport is enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. It is a way for individuals, families and friends to get outdoors and enjoy the many areas of this wonderful country that they might not otherwise take the opportunity to explore. As a group, we take great pride in our concern and care for the areas to which our sport takes us. One of our mottos is, “Cache in, Trash Out.“ Geocachers are encouraged to pick up and remove any trash they may find on the way to or from a Geocache. There are regular events sponsored at parks throughout the United States to help with picking up the refuse and other maintenance issues. There are many other reasons these citizens should be welcomed on lands that are set aside for all to enjoy.

 

Our sport has established organizations and individuals that have worked with local, state and federal government entities to create guidelines for our activities on government controlled lands. We would welcome the opportunity to establish such discussions with the USFWS.

 

I urge you to look into this matter and at least ask that the USFWS explain their decision and discuss it with representatives of our sport.

Edited by magellan315

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks Magellan for preparing the thoughtful letter refuting the "rationale". My "gut" is telling me however that unlike Florida, the NWR decision is being influenced by "higher" forces. The 4 regulations are just excuses they're using to support their decision. It would have been more honest if they came out and said that in their opinion as the lawful regulators, the managers believe caching has a negative impact on refuges and that's why they are banning it. Or, they have received many letters from outside citizens who are objecting. But then you might be able to prove caching doesn't effect the land as they say. By stating the 4 rules, they can stand behind regulations that were not design for this issue but seem to rule out caching.

 

Hopefully I'm wrong and they might be open to changing thier minds like Florida officials so the email campaign should go forward.

 

Tks

 

Alan

Share this post


Link to post
I would like some feedback to see what changes should be considered in the form letter I have listed below.

 

I think the letter is going in the wrong direction. It's trying to argue that geocaching does not violate their stated regulations, but their position actually has considerable merit. If only one of their allegations holds true, the geocaching argument falls apart and it really weakens the intent of the letter.

 

I would suggest not even mentioning those four violations, but instead try to show them how geocaching meets their "compatible use" guidelines. From the way I read the regulations, it will force them into a more in-depth dialog, and they must rationalize, in writing, why the activity is permitted or denyed.

 

Even if someone managed to refute all four of their allegations, it would only mean there were no infractions, and that wouldn't mean that they have to allow geocaching as an activity in the future.

 

George

Edited by nincehelser

Share this post


Link to post
giving ANY ground to your opponents is only opening the door for further and further concessions. 

That is exactly what the USFWS is thinking when it comes to geocaching. I have to agree with ju66l3r on this one, there is plenty of space still left in the U.S. to geocache. Why get on their bad side by demanding that every square inch of soil be available for caches?

Share this post


Link to post
Thanks Magellan for preparing the thoughtful letter refuting the "rationale". My "gut" is telling me however that unlike Florida, the NWR decision is being influenced by "higher" forces

 

My gut tells me quite the opposite. I see a few mid-level bureaucrats, with not enough to do, finding out about our little sport and taking action against this new "scourge".

 

And while they're sending their enforcement personnel out in search of hidden Tupperware containers, illegal ATVers are tearing up the trails and creating new ones, poachers are poaching and fly-by-night construction companies are dumping their debris.

 

From an enforcement standpoint, its a lot easier to look up a waypoint on GC.COM and send out an agent to confiscate the cache, than it is to stake out an illegal tree stand, or dumping site.

Share this post


Link to post

I would like to make sure that credit is given where it is due, the letter I created was cobbled together from two letters that were posted from this thread. I'll wait to see what the consesus is regarding proving compatiblity, as opposed to agruing the validity of the regulations.

 

What happened in Florida was similar, we were threatened with trespassing, abandoning property, and going off trail. And yes after the local caching community made their voices heard a reasonable solution was achieved.

 

I have no doubt that this decision was made higher up in the FWS, but that does not mean we shouldn't make our feelings known focused towards the right person, even if the policy is not changed it is time to take a stand. Geocaching is reaching a point where in few more years we may be able to strongly advocate our position, but we have to start now to get the hang of it. After who thought that within three years we would have caches in 180 countries and have 8000++ active accounts.

 

I agree there is plenty of land to place caches and not all of the refuges are going to be appropriate. But I'd rather that decision be made at the local level by those people most familiar with the area in question, cachers and FWS personel together.

 

If any one has any suggestions to prove compatibility please post them and I will work them into the new draft.

Edited by magellan315

Share this post


Link to post
giving ANY ground to your opponents is only opening the door for further and further concessions. 

That is exactly what the USFWS is thinking when it comes to geocaching. I have to agree with ju66l3r on this one, there is plenty of space still left in the U.S. to geocache. Why get on their bad side by demanding that every square inch of soil be available for caches?

At what point then do you interceed??

 

When 10% of all federal land is off-limits to geocaching??

 

20%? 25%? 50%? 85%??

 

 

30296_400.gif30296_1700.gif

Share this post


Link to post

Back in the woods with Ranger Rick and Ranger Jim… Shhh, let’s listen in…

 

“What’s that minnow bucket doing in the garbage truck, Jim?”

 

“Well Chief you told me to pick up all trash. So that’s what I’ve been doing.”

 

“Trash? Since when are minnow buckets trash? Did you see those poor shiners flopping around on the bottom for heaven sake? They’re all gasping for air.”

 

“I thought you told me to get rid of all abandoned property. Well it was just lying there in the water with a rock sitting on top. It didn’t even have no ID or nothin'.”

 

“Well some fisherman really is going to be ticked off when he gets back here. Go put it back right away. We don’t need some well-connected big shot complaining to his congressman that we’re not letting him fish or that we’re accusing him of messing up some pristine waters with trash. What else have you been picking up lately?"

 

“Funny you should ask. About ten feet away from the minnow bucket I found this ammo box. Maybe the fisherman was going to shoot the bass if the minnows didn't work? Hmm. Well anyway, I opened it up and it was full of little bibles and other religious tracks. Very suspicious stuff if you ask me especially inside an ammo can."

 

“Well I’m not going to ask what you did with that or touch this whole subject with a ten-foot pole. That’s all I need. First the fisherman and then the geocachers and ministers will be on my back. Boy, what I would give for some ATV-er tearing up the trails right about now.”

Share this post


Link to post
At what point then do you interceed??

 

When 10% of all federal land is off-limits to geocaching??

 

20%? 25%? 50%? 85%??

 

 

And at what point do you stop trying to cache everywhere? When all Wildlife Refuges have been torn up from cache-seekers? You know it would happen, we have ALL seen the bushes beaten to death and rocks and vegetation overturned by overzealous cachers. No, it doesn't happen all the time, but it DOES happen. When do you stop? The laws are in place to preserve a few areas for wildlife. So you can't cache there, big deal. Move on down the line and find another spot, there are plenty left.....

Share this post


Link to post

My two cents.

 

First--I agree that it is difficult or impossible to prove the case that geocaching impacts the ecology any more than the other debated activities. However, the simple truth is seldom enough to persuade someone whose mind is already heading in the other direction.

 

I also believe that this fight may do more harm than good. We might not win, and even if we do, we have gained a very small amount of terrain, possibly at a huge cost. I am referring to the relative obscurity which shields the sport in these charmed days we live in. I don't think we will be ignored forever(I know that alot of you have positive relationships with land managers, but I think the majority do not know about us--I could be wrong here). A big campaign might just enlighten an entire population of land managers who are not currently aware of the sport. Their knee jerk reaction might be the same as the National Parks, and we might start losing ground at a much quicker rate.

 

Don't get me wrong--I believe we are in the right, and I believe we will have to fight this fight some day. I'm not telling anyone to not send letters, I'm just not convinced that now is the time for this fight. "Endangered species versus 'High tech treasure hunters'" doesn't cast us in the most favorable light.

 

I'm sure plenty of you will disagree, just remember--I agree with you, and I'm on your side :)

Share this post


Link to post

Every time I read the forum posts on this subject, my blood begins to boil. Geocaching is an activity that has it’s focus on creativity, education, and having fun. It’s volunteer leaders have done a commendable job in establishing an environmental ethic that is positive and helpful. It’s members represent a potential powerful political force. Many are educated and widely experienced retirees. Many others are practicing professionals. Others are, in the least, energetic and devoted to an active and earth-loving philosophy. Not a few of the devotees, are children in their formative years. Geocaching could become a force for good to any land managing agency if the right guidelines are established. The diatribe coming from the USFWS, as published by the forum, ignorantly recognizes none of this. It is ironic that a good portion of their budget is Congressionally earmarked to provide educational experiences for their client base-the public. Most refuges have visitor centers, mostly built on “virtual” displays to accommodate citizens. Lest we forget, geocachers are public citizens.

 

This issue will increase in size and importance as the sport grows and is focused on by the public policy makers. It is vital to the future of this sport that positive policies be adopted by the various land managing agencies, when they do so, at all levels. The negative ones could set bad precedent. Any effort to influence public policy at the Federal level should be first directed to the Congressional delegations. When we write to our elected officials they usually pass the inquiry to the concerned Federal agency. The agencies, in turn, put their highest priority on answering Presidential and Congressional inquiries. They can’t ignore them. Groundspeak could make a Congressional inquiry to the rightfully selected individuals asking what the scientific basis for USFWS geocaching policy is based on, or, whether USFWS policy on geocaching is based on an Environmental Assessment, and if not, why not? I would like to see the USFWS response on that one, and you can bet it won’t be coming from some low lying refuge cop! Oh, by the way, Groundspeak, be sure and mention to the Congressperson the number of voting citizens who are involved with Geocaching. Also, a little chart showing the growth in the past three years would be helpful.

Share this post


Link to post

A few quick comments:

 

It's good to see I'm not the only one who sees the benefit in choosing our battles on where to try and get caches placed. It would be far more useful and easier to convince the NPS that their forests are good places to hike to a geocache than asking the FWS to let us play our game next to the last 30 birds' nests of a particular species.

 

At what percent would I fight the loss of National Lands for geocaching access...hmm, how about when a fairly high percent of non-federal land not covered by caches is not of equal caliber...in other words, when I can't put one where it's already allowed, abundant, and still high-quality hiding.

 

Finally, the most recent draft letter from magellan315 is really in the wrong direction, IMNSHO. What we don't need is to provide an argument and sound confrontational about their initial letter. No matter how much you think it's not "abandoned property"...it isn't even about the definition of the word "abandoned". If you read the actual subsection on that topic, all you have to do is leave personal property in a NWR to infract the rules. That's it! Even if you come back every day to check on it, you've broken the rules. For that reason alone, they have a valid complaint against physical caches and there's nothing we can do about it EXCEPT to work with them to provide compatible use regulations to fit geocaching into their exceptions to the current subsections. Refuting their e-mail is useless; no matter how you feel about it, approaching them with the idea that they never should have thought the way they did because it's wrong-headed or whatever is pointless, argumentative, and actually factually wrong given their current rules.

 

So, the optimal form letter will be something to the effect of "We're sorry that our previous actions were in conflict with the acceptable use of NWR policy. We'd like to work together with you to setup regulations on what you will find an acceptable limited method for geocaching inside some of the amazing NWR locations that provide the natural resources and beauty for numerous other outdoor activities similar to our own. Included are a number of ways we could make geocaching no worse than the sightseeing, hiking, and photography currently encouraged by the refuge system. Also included are a number of adaptations and rules followed in state/federal parks across the nation that made our activity acceptable for those land managers. Most geocachers are active in their awareness of how we interact with our environment (CITO, etc) and the benefits of having geocachers visit their local NWRs will far outweigh what is lost if they desire to visit other park lands in search of geocaches instead. It would also be possible to setup compatible use permits for each geocache so that local refuge managers can determine if any geocache would be allowable based on its position along currently established trails and proximity to more sensitive regions within each reserve. This is a similar concept to the refuge-specific rules established for hunting and fishing. Please contact XYZ (GC.com volunteer contact for relaying correspondance to community for single point of contact) to let our community know which parts of the suggested rules are still unacceptable as we work on developing our new compatible use for the NWRs."

 

I think this is the best approach if people are going to continue to push on in trying to reverse the current stance of the NWR offices.

 

Remember these people have a mission to protect the wildlife of the particular area they are guarding. Unlike a lot of other federal land, this is not just "public" land so much as it is land the public has decided to set aside for the animals (with very limited use by humans).

Share this post


Link to post

I like your approach ju66l3r. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

 

Alan

Share this post


Link to post

I agree with the last few posts. We definately need to work with them rather than trying to fight them...

What we can NOT do is nothing. Sticking our heads in the sand will only hurt us further in the long run.

 

Certainly establishing a dialog should be our first goal. Then we can work out a compromise which will continue to allow protection of nature and also allow caching in approved places. Perhaps we could set a limit on # of caches in each protected area based on its size or sensitivity of the habitat.

 

These are all things that can be accomplished with level-headed negotiations. The Groundspeak crew has taken the first steps and we need to support them in however we can further our goals.

 

 

30296_400.gif30296_1700.gif

Edited by Doc-Dean

Share this post


Link to post

I feel we do need to send the letters in. One key point I feel that needs to address in convincing in a form letter is how it is a family activity and Geocaching helps bring children to these area where we educate them on the local enviorment, the impacts that it has taken, and possibly what can and will be done. This teaches the children to respect the enviornment. Isn't this a goal of theirs?

Share this post


Link to post

LMAO! After thinking about this, I remember that it's a GAME! Writing to the USFWS? It's akin to saying: "We DEMAND that we be allowed to play Bocce-ball or Lawn Darts in the Protected Wildlife Preserve." You know how ridiculous that sounds? HAHAHAHA!!

 

Writing letters and making calls to your Congressman or elected official is a waste of their valuable time. They have far more important things to do than listen to people who want to play games in a Wildlife Preserve...Spend your time and energy on trying to help the people who live in this country who go hungry every night or have to sleep on the streets before worrying about where you can play geocaching.

Edited by TEAM 360

Share this post


Link to post
...asking the FWS to let us play our game next to the last 30 birds' nests of a particular species.

Why do we continue to see these comments? We are not talking about "sensitive" areas. On the land we are talking about, the FWS already allows the following activities...

 

Wildlife observation.

Hiking trails.

Bicycling.

Photography.

Observation tower.

Fishing.

Hunting (archery, primitive gun).

 

In what way does geocaching have any greater impact than these activities? Many cachers do these activities right along with there caching. Hiking for instance. My wife and I are birders and always have our field glasses and bird books along when caching. When we spot new birds while caching we usually note it in our logs.

 

I don't think anyone on this forum thinks a whooping crane or sea turtle nest is a appropriate place for a cache. We just want to use OUR land, managed and supported with OUR money, for activities that WE enjoy that do no harm to the land or anyone else.

 

Attempting to belittle these concerns it by saying it's only "game" is just silly. So are the above activities. So is everthing we do that's not work. I'd say this land is a lot more appropriate for "games" than it is for work.

Edited by IceCreamMan

Share this post


Link to post

Regarding Team 360 "Writing letters and making calls to your Congressman or elected official is a waste of their valuable time. They have far more important things to do than listen to people who want to play games in a Wildlife Preserve...Spend your time and energy on trying to help the people who live in this country who go hungry every night or have to sleep on the streets before worrying about where you can play geocaching."

 

Two bits more.

 

You can write letters to some underling bureaucrat in Washington D.C. until Hell freezes over and you will get nowhere. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they work from logic and can be persuaded by your friendship. They don’t give a dadgum about what you think. They only care about what management options can be implemented under the umbrella of NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act). Only a challenge to the legal basis of their actions has merit. Does the USFWS have the authority to outlaw virtual activities in public access areas of their refuges. While they will try the bureaucratic approach of trying to make you think so, they probably do not.

 

Conceding on the placement of physical caches is one thing. To concede to their efforts to outlaw virtual caches is a dangerous thing to the sport.

 

As to our elected representatives not having time to deal with geocaching. The sport is a legitimate recreational activity and should be considered as such, not just “a game.”

 

Recreation has become the number one economic activity on many areas of the public domain and is part of the Federal budget process. You think this is not important to our elected officials? Come now, a little rethinking is in order here.

Share this post


Link to post
Recreation has become the number one economic activity on many areas of the public domain and is part of the Federal budget process. You think this is not important to our elected officials? Come now, a little rethinking is in order here.

AMEN!

Share this post


Link to post

I recieved a call from one of the folks I'd written to at USFWS. He was very familiar with geocaching and said that this sounded out of charcter for FWS as they try to encourage use of the lands they manage. He contacted several area land managers and they didn't know anything about the ban. They said they would be happy to have caches that were not in sensitive areas. He noted that the original contact came from their Law Enforcement folks and might just be some type of over reaction. He said, "They're cops, and you know how cops can be". He asked for the name of the individual who sent the original letter so that he could investigate it for me. I've forwarded the request on to Hydee and hope she responds.

Edited by IceCreamMan

Share this post


Link to post

This is good to know. There is one cache down here in south Florida that is located in a NWR. I will copy the posting to the owner, in case he/she is not aware of this. It is amazing to think they would fine someone $5000 over a geocache !

 

You realize, of course, that they allow people to hunt, fish, ride airboats, and do many other things at these locations. I do know, from experience, that they are very strict with campers and hikers about leaving any items behind. So I guess they are putting geocaches into the same category with litter. Seems like there should be some happy middle ground.

Share this post


Link to post
I mentioned the homeless. What if that person out on the highway overpass begging for change was YOUR sister or brother, or your Mom or Dad?

 

I'm sorry, but this is just not a reasonable argument. You can justify *not* doing anything with this reasoning. Homelessness and poverty are difficult, seemingly insoluble problems. Saying "how can you do X while there's still homeless people" means that you'll never do anything at all. It does not have to be an either / or situation. It is most unlikely that someone will starve because of a letter about land usage in a game written to a congressperson.

 

But rather than write your Representative to see what was being done to help THEM, you want to waste your time asking if you can go play a game in what little land that has been set aside for wildlife.

 

It is our representatives job to listen to requests like this. They spend lots of time trying to figure out who's going to vote for them and why, and how to get the money to get re-elected. You may as well tell 'em what it takes to get yours. It is their job after all. And hey - at least you are asking them about a problem that may well have a simple solution, unlike homelessness.

 

It is perfectly fine if you think it is a big waste of time writing to your elected representatives about geocaching. It may well be a big waste of time. I find your attempt to take the moral high-ground by *not* doing anything to be somewhat lacking, however.

Edited by Mr.Benchmark

Share this post


Link to post
I know that this has been said before, but it bears repeating. "Let's kill all the lawyers, Kill em tonight"

 

Bender

Can we not kill ALL the lawyers? I know 2 that are involved on some level with cache administration and both of them are pretty cool.

Share this post


Link to post
I like your approach ju66l3r.  You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

 

In many instances, this is often the best approach. However, as can readily be determined from the tone and content of the letter from the ominous sounding “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Refuge Law Enforcement”, this agency is not the slightest bit interested in honey.

I have often found that to not be true at all. Most often they (aka the officials...the legally-driven....the loyal opposition...the other side) are required to be very formal in their declarations such as the one sent to GS to satisfy certain legal obligations should anything bigger come of this later.

 

While it would be nicer of the government to send out personal and charming letters of wit and grace, they would often be giving more slip space to whomever they were trying to keep in line with current rules and that just leads to trouble later on.

 

I recently went through a problem with a company that felt we were infringing on their patents and sent us a very standard cease/desist letter that was as off-putting as the NWR letter above. We wrote back with something a bit kinder and a few phone calls later we were able to come to a solution that they felt would not infringe on them and would still allow us to put the results of our research on the web for other scientists to use.

 

Most likely, whoever sent the NWR letter was told to get the 4 or 5 infractions in a list and send out a modified e-mail #32A32555BBB-custom but the person we'll be contacting is someone that will appreciate a gentle introduction to the problem and be willing to work with us since our requests won't be too far from already acceptable uses.

 

Always lead with a smile and a handshake...you can always retract it later when things get ugly, but in review you will look the bigger for it.

Share this post


Link to post

Aside from a grassroot's writing campaign to our representatives, who could we write to to LOBBY for geocaching? GPS manufacterers? Sierra Club?

Share this post


Link to post

People. Please. lets try to keep this conversation on a level field .Try and not get over passionate about the pros or cons or this subject. Change comes about by working towards a goal without letting emotions get out of control.

 

Thank you

Share this post


Link to post

A) 360 and ICMan...please PM each other if you want to carry it further. It's not really relevant to the topic at hand anymore (not that it was much to begin with).

 

:) As to ICMan's concern:

 

Why do we continue to see these comments? We are not talking about "sensitive" areas. On the land we are talking about, the FWS already allows the following activities...

 

Because the policy e-mail from the FWS is discussing the use of ALL refuge land for geocaching. While the impact of geocaching is often low, there are cases where it could be seen to cause problems (food in a cache...placed poorly near an endangered animal nest...placed accidentally in a sensitive area...placed in a good area that became sensitive due to a feeding shift in the animals...and so on). While you and I may not place a cache there, others new to the sport, new to the refuge, naive, etc. may place a cache there and if geocaching were given as free a reign as some of the mentioned activities, then eventually some geocache somewhere in an NWR is going to cause a problem. It's clear that the head offices are just nipping it all in the bud by saying officially "no geocaches".

 

It's understandable why someone who doesn't actively maintain the lands might come to this conclusion and more than likely a land manager who found a geocache in their neck of the woods (possibly too close to sensitive areas) complained to someone higher-up that "something needs to be done about this" and so we are where we are. The letter is what it is and as ICMan's chat with an FWS official shows, it's a blanket policy only because it comes from a head office, not because every NWR is going to be off-limits in the future. As long as our community approaches this in the right way, I'm sure we'll have access to some of the refuges again, while I'm sure still others will be forever off-limits due to the particulars of our compatible use.

Share this post


Link to post

You are right. I WILL right some letters to my Rep, telling them all about geocaching in the Wildlife Preserves. Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post

A couple of thoughts...

 

My first thought was "so what?". We don't need to place caches in areas that have been deemed sensitive. Then I did some searching...

 

The Refuge System currently controls more than 95 million acres of land (and they want more). There are more Refuge lands than there are National Parks.

 

The lands that they manage are not all sensitive. The first Refuge was set up to protect birds, since then the system has been changed a little here, a little there.

 

One suggestion is to lobby the lobbyists. I suggest starting here.

Edited by geospotter

Share this post


Link to post

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...
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 8

×
×
  • Create New...