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Geocaching Crackdown? 464

thejuggler writes "Some cities and counties are banning or considering banning geocaching in their parks. "It's good, clean, wholesome fun - just do it someplace else," said Brian Adams, chief of resource protection for the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, which has banned geocaching. The geocaching.com website claims there are over 600 caches within 100 miles of the twincities."
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Geocaching Crackdown?

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  • likeness to litter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bluelip ( 123578 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:29AM (#6113864) Homepage Journal
    Althouh I enjoy 'geocaching', I can see their point. What's to seperate these caches from ordinary litter.
    • What separates caches from litter is that most caches are out of the way from common areas and well-maintained. Litter is on the main paths and carelessly dropped by those with no respect for the areas they are visiting. As a side note, geocachers often pick up litter on the way to and from caches. (Check out the 'cache in, trash out' policy on the webpage).
    • by TamMan2000 ( 578899 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:51AM (#6114000) Journal
      What's to seperate these caches from ordinary litter.

      Why not come up with park approved geocache containers that are standardized and therefor obviosly not litter?
    • by jridley ( 9305 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:01AM (#6114043)
      I've never seen a single cache that could be mistaken for litter. An ammo box or well sealed tupperware container painted black, hand lettered with "Dave's XYZ cache #5 - geocaching.com", with the standard notice placed inside explaining to an accidental discoverer what geocaching is, and giving a name and phone number for authorities to call if the cache is in any way in violation of rules so that the placer can reclaim and remove the cache, placed 20 feet off the trail, in the crotch of a tree and covered with sticks, is not what litter typically looks like.

      I've not seen any evidence that any cacher has littered. Most times you can tell the cachers on the trails because they have a bag full of litter that they have PICKED UP and are carrying out of the park. My kids and I pull out more trash every time we visit a cache than any 50 careless people are likely to leave behind.
    • As with anything that becomes popular, it presents itself to abuse. More so with fads. Posting this on /. was a bad idea. It really isn't suitable for mass consumption. Slashdot crowd isn't what it used to be. Hopefully geocaching won't "catch-on". Hopefully some joe-schmoe doesn't decide that it will be fun to plant an unpleasant surprise for a cache.

      Good behavior and respect is like common sense. It's rare among the general populace. I would want the practice of this activity be limited to those that are
  • by Hittite Creosote ( 535397 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:32AM (#6113879)
    Naturally, the headline is a bit of an exaggeration of the article - only some parks are talking about banning it outright, and they do have a point - some of the material being left is unsuitable, large numbers of people traipsing to the same point causes erosion, etc. But if the caches are moved regularly, and only suitable material is left, then it wouldn't be a problem - except who would regulate it?
    • by Azghoul ( 25786 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:48AM (#6113975) Homepage
      Yeah, we need a government agency to tell us what we can leave in a cache.

      Aye carumba!

      The parks certainly have a point, but I suspect eduction of your average geocacher would be much more useful. I mean, there's no agency regulating what people can leave behind when they go on a hiking trip, is there? It's common sense and common courtesy more than anything else.

      I suspect that geocaching.com might do a better job of educating people as to what's appropriate for a cache (ie, balloons = bad for the most part).
      • by (trb001) ( 224998 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @10:07AM (#6114515) Homepage
        there's no agency regulating what people can leave behind when they go on a hiking trip, is there?

        Technically, I think there is. Most parks have fines for littering, and under the letter of the law geocaching is nothing more than intentional littering (leaving non-natural items). It's not a problem now because it's so new and caches are supposed to be hard to find, which means the average tourist won't be bothered by them. It still is, however, another form of littering.

        Don't get me wrong, I'm dying to buy a hand held GPS and try this out, there are two sites within 5 miles of my house that I want to explore, but I can certainly understand the parks' attitudes.

    • ...But if the caches are moved regularly...

      It sounds like a nice idea to move caches, but...what about the GPS coordinates? They would be different. What about the coordinates of the cache on the web? So, maybe tell the "installer" of the cache to move it annually, but you really can't regulate that either. I can't hit the website right now but from the three caches I've created I do not remember a change or delete option...it's been a year though, it may just be my short circuiting melon.

      • simple.. you close down the old cache and open up a new one. i've done it. geocaching.com allows you to archive a cache so people can still look at what it was, where it was, who found it, etc.

        there is even a "roaming" cache type where one person who finds it moves it to a new location and posts the new coordinates.
  • I really think most cities should band geocaching within their city limits all together, just to protect themselves against terrorist acts.

    While the dweebish geocachers might think it's all good clean fun, a way to show off their disposable income with a high tech gewgaw and exchange some swag for other swag, terrorists are finding web pages full of GPS coordinates in the midst of populated cities.

    Do we really want to see a poor man's cruise missile strike Central Park, loaded with Anthrax or Sarin? How m
  • Uhh (Score:3, Funny)

    by MongooseCN ( 139203 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:33AM (#6113885) Homepage
    "It's good, clean, wholesome fun - just do it someplace else,"

    Later on..

    "We like geocachers, we really do. We just wish they'd all goto Hell and die."
  • Geocaching is Fun! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PerlGuru ( 115222 ) * <michael@thegrebs.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:35AM (#6113892) Homepage
    I have geocached for a while now. It seems like it has changed though, and is attracting a much wider following. When I moved to the Charleston area two years ago, there were about 20 caches nearby. Now we have 243. With some many more people involved, it can create a lot of traffic. The best places for caches are off the beaten path where they are unlikely to be disturbed by people who may have ill-intentions. This is precisely where the traffic hurts the most. I haven't read the article yet, still can't get it to load, but as someone who loves spending times outdoors, I'm not sure where I stand on this. It's a fun hobby, but with too many people not being cautious about thier impact on the surroundings, it could be not that great for the park or area the cache is in.

    • I geocache. I have also placed two caches. One is in a park. You can get to it in a wheelchair without ever getting into the grass or dirt. I had traffic in mind. I placed it so casual passerby would not find it. It's been there since 7/23/2001. It was last logged as found May 12th. I think it's still there. I don't think kids or other casual passerby have seen it. Otherwise thay may easly have taken it. It's a box that only contains coins. Obviously it has to be out of sight. Visit Geocaching.co
    • Back in my day we did it with a map and a compass. You tell that to kids these days and they'll never believe you.
    • I have geocached for a while now. It seems like it has changed though, and is attracting a much wider following. When I moved to the Charleston area two years ago, there were about 20 caches nearby. Now we have 243. With some many more people involved, it can create a lot of traffic. The best places for caches are off the beaten path where they are unlikely to be disturbed by people who may have ill-intentions.

      I live in the Santa Cruz, California area and there's quite a large number of caches around her

  • geocaching? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:36AM (#6113896)
    Doesn't this have to do with *saving* the parks? If someone slashdots a park (say, trampling nature areas), wouldn't it be nice to have a cache?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:36AM (#6113902)
    This is a great idea, most people have become so hard-wired to their televisions, their computers, and their video games, that we as a human race are beginning to forget the natural beauty in the world. We are shown on television that big buildings, 8 lane highways, and sprawling suburbs are things of marvel or beauty, just watch the discovery cluster if you dont believe me. Many times we hear about park representatives trying to get people into their parks so they dont lose funding or become development areas. Now they are becoming upset that people are visiting their parks? make up your mind!

    just my several cents
  • by kinnell ( 607819 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:37AM (#6113905)
    The cities should just list all their public litter bins as geocaches. That way, the geocachers can have their fun, there is nothing left lying around spoiling beauty spots, and if they're lucky, they won't have to empty their bins so often.
  • by sweeney37 ( 325921 ) * <mikesweeney AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:38AM (#6113907) Homepage Journal
    Robert Sime, a Richfield dad, takes his 4-year-old daughter out about twice a month. He said parks should adjust to what the public sees as legitimate use. "When volleyball came along, they all put in courts for that," he said.

    This is one of the most insightful comments in the whole article. Instead of trying to fight the geocachers they should be helping them to establish the cache sites. The park would be able to create a more terrain friendly cache site, and in turn they would get more visitors.

    Isn't this the kind of visitor you'd like in your park?

    "Ninety percent of us pick up bottles and cans, whatever we find. It's part of the game," she said.
  • by vasqzr ( 619165 ) <vasqzrNO@SPAMnetscape.net> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:38AM (#6113908)

    Many times you are not searching for an object left by someone else, but you are looking for a static object, such as a tombstone.

    As long as you are looking for a virtual cache, are you okay?

    • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:55AM (#6114016) Homepage
      That's what my last adventure was - finding the site of a WWII B25 bomber crash in the blue ridge mountains. I have hiked up that mountain many times, and /never/ realized that a debris field with airplane parts, rusty engines, prop hubs, etc were just a few hundred yards off the 'official' trail untill a geocacher pointed it out. They just don't tell you these things at the ranger station!

      That was a rough hike.
  • by MongooseCN ( 139203 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:39AM (#6113914) Homepage
    One problem with geocaching I see is that eventually trails will be created to caches far out in the woods. People always take the route starting from the nearest trail and the path of least resistance through the woods. This means that if enough people goto this same cache, a path will be worn in the woods. Once a path is there, what's the point of a GPS? You follow the path right to the cache. You can't move the cache obviously so what do you do? Perhaps people can show some sportsman ship and pick random places to start their trek to the cache.
    • by trikberg ( 621893 ) <trikberg.hotmail@com> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:08AM (#6114088)

      Once a path is there, what's the point of a GPS? You follow the path right to the cache. [...] Perhaps people can show some sportsman ship and pick random places to start their trek to the cache.

      What's with the GPS devices? How hard is it to input some coordinates and go where the arrow points? Can't people show some sportsmanship and use a good oldfashioned map?

      I'm somewhat serious here; it's all about how hard you want it to be. Some people might enjoy just walking along paths with GPS, some may want to go where no man has gone before with only a map.

      Just in case someone is going to do the old "I remember when we didn't have any maps, and it was uphill both ways, in the snow, against the wind"; it's really not that hard to use a map and you really should know how to use one when your GPS fails. Any normal 12 year old should be able to learn how to navigate using only a map, I know I did at that age.

      • A map would not help locate a cache altough it does help in getting to the rough location ( unless the maps you have in the us are much better than our 1:25000 that the land registry use for showing who owns what land). The GPS as acurate down to ~3m giving you a small circle to locate the cache in. Given this it is still hard to find them. A map can get you down to ~ 100m which is far to much info to find a cache in. Belive me I have tried. This is why the sport could only start when the selective availabi
      • It sounds like you might like orienteering. Check out www.orienteering.org [orienteering.org].

        I have done some geocaching, and it was not challenging enough. In orienteering, you have only a map and compass (in a serious competition, having a GPS is grounds for disqualification), and have to run around in the woods and find 6-10 flags. Attached to the flags are punches that you use to punch a card (proof that you were there).

        People who are serious about orienteering actually run. But being a typical slashdotter, I can't
    • by SomeoneGotMyNick ( 200685 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:16AM (#6114141) Journal
      This means that if enough people goto this same cache, a path will be worn in the woods

      On that train of thought, I would suppose the real problem would eventually be the SUV owners with built in GPS systems wearing tire tracks to the cache spot and inadvertantly running over hikers along the way.

      Then again, at least they would be using the SUV as an off-road vehicle for once.
    • Thats why there is an Archive this cache option. Click it when you visit a cache and the owner is requested to remoce the cache. This can be done for a number of reasons such as the site becoming obvious. ie a trail
    • Look at the geocaching site and count the number of visitors per year to each site - tha answer is about a couple of dozen. New sites tend to attract a flurry of interest - which fades to very low levels after a month or so.

      Geocaching is a hobby that scales naturally. Most cache SEARCHERS also plant NEW caches. If the number of players doubles, so will the number of caches. So the number of visitors per cache will stay approximately constant. (In fact, it will gradually drop over time as each cacher p
  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:39AM (#6113917)
    This isn't the first time someone's complained about geocaching in public-owned lands. Ideally, geocaching wouldn't produce any problems -- you locate the stash, extract it, exchange one item for your own, and re-stash it -- except that the fun of geocaching comes when you have to hunt a bit. That sometimes means digging up the ground, climbing (and re-climbing) trees, or otherwise moving or stressing things that shouldn't be constantly moved or stressed.

    The Petrified Forest National Park in the U.S. doesn't allow visitors to pick up bits of petrified wood off the ground, asking them to buy it from the gift shop instead, because it would eventually lead to the removal of all the small samples that make the place what it is. Imagine geocachers roaming and digging all around that place.

    Sometimes, preserving natural beauty means inconveniencing the same visitors who've come to see it. I don't consider this unreasonable, since there's still thousands of acres of land, public and unowned, that geocachers can still use. They may not be as scenic to get to, that's all.
    • by Pastey ( 577467 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:11AM (#6114107)
      Though I see your point and agree to it to some extent, places like the Petrified Forest are a special case. I for one think this "hand's off nature" attitude thats made it's way into popular thinking is foolish. In the long run it's actually self defeating, since insulating the public from experiencing it in a personal way leads to a lack of appreciation for it IMHO.

      I'm old enough to remember a time when you were allowed off the trails in most parks. I have many fond memories of exploring, discovering and having the thrill of just maybe getting lost in the woods (hey, I was a kid ;-] ). Those memories, along with teaching from my parents to be responsible and not destructive gave me a great love and respect for nature. Things have changed drastically now, and not for the better.

      Now every park is like going to a theme park. Stand in line here. Walk here. You can touch this but not that. God forbid that you TOUCH that tree or plant, you may hurt it! Don't you DARE feed that squirrel or bird, you're disrupting nature!

      Uh, pardon me, but 90% of the time this is utter bulls**t. Granted you'll have your small share of idiots ruining things for everyone else, but shutting down access for the common man/woman/child is NOT the way to solve it. Even with limited access the fools still find ways to litter, destroy and generally ruin a beautiful location.

      So what is the answer? Well, IMHO the more people are connected to a place the more they will care about it. Give people the education and reason to care and much of the policing will be handled by the public itself.

      Case in point: there is still one metro park in my area that allows people to go off trail to a long stretch of river. This is by *far* the most litter-free area of park I've seen. Since the river is wide and shallow you consistently see people fishing, parents with kids walking the shallows looking for crawdads, and people in general just enjoying actually EXPERIENCING nature - not just staring at it from behind a fence or barrier. You also consistently see people walking the bank and riverbed picking up any litter they see, since they know that THEY might be the next one to step on that piece of broken glass or bottle cap. I've even seen a fisherman take some teenage kids to task for throwing their litter on the ground. He talked to them in a friendly way and they actually listened to him and picked up their trash, joking around with him.

      I'm not saying just open everything up and let people do whatever they please in our parks, I'm just saying that this "hands off" way of thinking is getting too strong. Nature is not some delicate construct that will fall over and shatter at the least little nudge from big bad mankind. It's been my experience that most people I've spoken to that think this way have an inate dislike of mankind to one degree or another, whether they realize it or not.
      • by wass ( 72082 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @12:14PM (#6115853)
        Don't you DARE feed that squirrel or bird, you're disrupting nature!

        This statement makes me doubt the sincerity of the rest of your arguments about loving nature and respecting the wilderness and wildlife.

        I have been to many national and state parks and feeding animals is universally a bad thing. The main reason is because the more you feed animals the less dependent they become on their abilities to forage and search for food, and hence can starve during the winter months.

        Regarding birds and metro parks, did you ever notice that groups of birds congregate around park benches when you eat? This is a direct consequence to them getting fed by others and hoping to get fed again.

        Another and more important reason, though, is that once you feed wildlife, the animals learn that those curious humanoid bipeds will tend to give them food. They start approaching humans more often to get food. And sometimes becoming agressive.

        This is particularly destructive with predatory animals like bears. In some forests around here in the Northeast, for some unknown reason people feed the bears. Said bears then approach other people, sometimes agressively. What the original feeders don't know is that the park rangers must destroy bears that do this. So, if you feed bears or other agressive animals, you are actually contributing to their destruction.

        This isn't just with bears, it's a common case with deer too. Have you ever seen a deer painted bright orange? This means the deer has agressively approached people before trying to get food. It's painted orange because if it happens again then the rangers have to destroy the deer.

        So that's why it's important not to feed the wildlife, because you really are changing their feeding behavior. And since you were unaware of this it makes me doubt the sincerity of the rest of your comment.

    • by jolshefsky ( 560014 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:25AM (#6114209) Homepage
      This is something that bugs me every time. To me there are social parks, nature parks, and preserves. In a social park, you go have a picnic and play frisbee--erosion and general wear is part of the deal. In a nature park, you generally hike and observe--it is not a park to be used, but to be seen, so erosion and wear is a strong consideration. Finally, in a preserve, you're trying to avoid all erosion while still allowing people to witness natural wonders.

      In my opinion, all local parks are social parks. I was furious when they banned mountain biking (all parks in Monroe County, NY--near Rochester, NY) but still allowed horses. If erosion was the issue, then it's not a social park, and you should treat it as a nature park and only allow people on foot (or equivalent.)

      The root cause is that we need to determine the purpose of our parks. Once the definitions are established, the allowable and not allowable behaviors become clear. The short answer for now is that if there's barbeques or a frisbee golf course, you can geocache; if there's a sign-in sheet and dedicated nature paths, you can't.

  • Short-lived (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gerf ( 532474 ) <edtgerf@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:40AM (#6113922) Journal

    As it is i see this as a short lived sport. Right now, it's at the fun stage, where people enjoy it, trust it, and relatively few people are doing it.

    What happens though, when it's wildly popular? We'll have some incident where that lunchbox cache is booby trapped, and some kid gets hurt. Then, the news will jump all over it as some dangerous unregulated, unapproved event on public property. And of course, you'll have to think of the children. Blah.

    I'd like to try it, if i had the $, and the caches in the area, but alas, i don't.

    Perhaps if they try to move it to areas in the country, along rivers, or along regular hiking and biking trails? You could label each cache on the net as a drive, walking, or bike riding cache. These are just some of my own suggestions. I declare them open source and free, do what you will with them. Good luck to them, if this turns out to be a niche, even better. :P

    • Re:Short-lived (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I wouldn't say it's a short-lived sport, as geo-caching was probably derived from letterboxing, which dates back to the 1850s - and is a bit more challenging, not to mention, just about free.

      Letterboxing North America [letterboxing.org]
      Letterboxing UK [fsworld.co.uk]

    • Some people put chick tracts in the caches. Nothing like having an afternoon's hike ruined by "YOU'RE GOING TO HELL" messages when you open the cache.

      It's your hell. You go there. I'm going to have an ice cream.


  • What a tool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scutter ( 18425 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:41AM (#6113933) Journal
    They allow this guy to speak on behalf of the park administration?

    "It's good, clean, wholesome fun -- just do it someplace else."


    "Good, clean, wholesome fun has no place in our state and national parks."
  • by ddawdy ( 604675 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:45AM (#6113955)
    Contact: Brian Adams, Chief, Resource Protection @ 715-483-3284 x 629 Please voice your opinion to Brian for banning geocaching after admitting "It's good, clean, wholesome fun..."
  • by jridley ( 9305 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:46AM (#6113959)
    There's a type of cache that's becoming very popular, called a "virtual cache." Nothing is stored on the site, it's just a coordinate, and a clue as to what you're supposed to find there. I'd like to see them ban that. What are they going to do, ban GPS units?

    There have been a few cases of serious damage caused by cachers. In one instance, a cache was placed within 10 feet of a teepee ring, which is considered a sensitive archaeological site. If you've seen how the ground gets trampled around a cache, you'd see how this could be a problem. I can certainly understand the park officers being upset that someone posted a "please trample the grass" sign on such a site.

    I do think it's a BIT hypocritical though; the public parks are always aching to increase flow through the park to keep their budgets, but apparently they just want people to come in the gate, get the headcount, eat a picnic out of their trunk and leave. When those people start exploring, they get upset.

    OTOH, I have seen geocachers that have no interest in exploring. They beeline straight to the coordinates, tramping anything in the way, do their logging, and tromp straight out. But many of us spend an afternoon checking out the trails while we're there, which is exactly why the parks are (supposed to be) there.

    Maybe the former types of cachers should take up benchmark hunting [geocaching.com] instead.
  • The article (Score:5, Informative)

    by skillet-thief ( 622320 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:47AM (#6113964) Homepage Journal
    Someone said the site was /.ed... Not for me, so here's the artcle:

    MINNESOTA: GPS treasure hunt under fire
    Pioneer Press

    Ian Stevens checks his GPS unit, as rain drips off the end of his ponytail.

    The GPS arrow points to the east, and Stevens begins another session of geocaching -- a sport like a high-tech scavenger hunt -- in Cottage Grove's Ravine Park.

    Three park officials walk up. Will they kick him out?

    Not today. The developing friction between geocachers and park officials doesn't materialize.

    "Did I hear you say you were geocaching? You are the first one I have seen here," said parks manager Mike Polehna, who seems intrigued. "There's no problem as long as you aren't disturbing the natural areas of the park."

    But officials in other parks, faced with an onslaught of geocachers, are scrambling to develop restrictions. Recently, St. Croix National Scenic Waterway in Wisconsin announced a ban on geocaching, and other parks are considering lesser restrictions.

    Whatever they decide, they have no choice but to deal with it. Geocaching didn't exist a few years ago, but now, according to the official geocaching Web site, there are more than 600 caches within 100 miles of the Twin Cities.

    The sport depends on two new technologies: the Internet and handheld GPS units, which use satellite signals to show the user the precise longitude and latitude of their location.

    The geocachers search for a nearby cache on the Web site, record the longitude and latitude of their prize, and then use GPS locators to get within a few yards of the caches. Usually, the caches are in plain sight or under twigs or leaves -- never buried in dirt.

    Caches contain such things as trinkets, souvenirs or coins. Searchers are free to take or leave what they like. They then sign into the logbooks.

    At home, they record their work on the Web site. Online conversations develop between finders and placers of geocaches.

    But it's not for everyone.

    "My husband thinks it's the most moronic sport ever," said Nola Cutts, co-chairwoman of the state Geocaching Association, who goes geocaching with her children twice a week. "But he's into fly fishing, so I guess we all have our own moronic sports."

    The group was started, she said, "to educate parks departments about what geocaching is and to show them we are not evil people tearing up the parks.

    "Ninety percent of us pick up bottles and cans, whatever we find. It's part of the game," she said.

    Cutts, 43, of Anoka, takes several of her five children when she goes geocaching. "It gets the kids outdoors, away from TV," said Cutts. "We see wildlife. We talk."

    Robert Sime, a Richfield dad, takes his 4-year-old daughter out about twice a month. He said parks should adjust to what the public sees as legitimate use. "When volleyball came along, they all put in courts for that," he said.

    The sport even attracts geo-tourists. Jonathan Gorton, a 43-year-old Milwaukee man who says he has a condition like muscular dystrophy, visits the Twin Cities "because we have pretty much picked Milwaukee clean. We found 428 caches."

    That kind of fanaticism bothers some park officials, who say geocaching leads to geotrashing.

    They don't want anything left behind in parks.

    They worry that hundreds of people tramping through their woods will damage plants and habitat.

    "It's good, clean, wholesome fun -- just do it someplace else," said Brian Adams, chief of resource protection for the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, which has banned geocaching.

    Earlier this year, he and park officials were startled to learn of several geocache sites in their park. On one site, said Adams, balloons were left. "That's not a good thing. Waterfowl and birds eat brightly colored things," said Adams.

    In Minnesota, other park officials don't express such vocal opposition.

    "It gets people outdoors, which is kind of neat," s
  • by Cackmobile ( 182667 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:47AM (#6113967) Journal
    Going for a good old fashion bushwalk/hike. All you need is a map and some water etc. No expensive equipment. You don't need a goal to marvel in the beauty of nature. Make that your goal to hike to somewhere new and beautiful like a secluded waterfall where you can go for a swim or a big hill with a view. HOw many of the geocaches actually stop to look at the enviroment they are walking through.

    While parks rangers are alwas trying to get people to the parks it ahs to be the right tyoe of people. 50,000 people to a park is good but not if they are the kind that trash the place. Like the 2 guys on jet skis on Sydney harbour who were rounding up the penguins and running over them. THis was after the penguins had returned for the frist time in 50 years or something.
    • I agree with this. However, the thing that I have found great about geocaching is that it gives people a great way to share favorite spots with strangers. Within a few months of starting geocaching, my kids and I found a half dozen really great trails and picnic clearings that were totally NOT on the main trails of any of the parks around here. A good cache spot will introduce someone to a great spot that they will want to return to even when the cache is removed. This is one of the reasons why virtual
  • by smartin ( 942 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:49AM (#6113982)
    While allowing horses and stating that "mountain bikes are distructive, cause erosion and take up too much room on the trails."

    Parks are for everyone and the park authorities need to learn to adapt and accomodate.
  • fighting ignorance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by r00t_ur_b0x ( 643995 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:49AM (#6113984)

    My dad and I both enjoy geocaching. In an effort to increase its popularity in our area, we have placed caches in local parks and other scenic places. One of our ideas was a multicache of all the Civil War forts in our county (there are 6). Two of them are on National Park land. We requested permission to place caches there, and after not hearing anything back for about a month, we placed the caches in inconspicuous areas in the parks. For a few months, we read logs of people who were really enjoying the caches and most of them remarked on how they never even knew about the sites before geocaching. Then things turned sour.

    We started reading logs of people being harassed by park rangers. Some reported the park rangers about to arrest the geocachers for stepping off the path. We soon received an e-mail from a NPS official telling us that we were breaking the law by leaving the caches in the park. In the e-mail he specifically mentioned that geocachers dig up earth to find caches (all the caches were above ground) and that they tear up property and litter. None of these statements are true. We had to sneak in to get the caches back without getting arrested ourselves (apparently the park rangers were on the lookout for us).

    How do you fight such ignorance? We sent back logs of people saying how much they enjoyed the areas and never knew of their existance before the caches were placed along with letters explaining the 'cache in, trash out' policy of geocaching, but to no avail. Any ideas where to go from here?

    • All it's going to take is a Geocacher getting a job as a park ranger. Then things may change. Heck why not have park sponsered classes on responsible geocaching (free or minimal charge)? Even park sponsered caches (they can put them where they want and move them when things are getting out of hand). They could even put printouts or cards of trees in the area, a keychain or something in the cache that advertises the park. Park rangers should work with the folks who want to use the park.
  • Drama, Drama, Drama (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Saxton ( 34078 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:49AM (#6113987) Homepage
    The article is heavily drama. I am a geocacher that knows two of the people mentioned in the article. When they say "Three park officials walk up. Will they kick him out? Not today," they're referring to Washington County Park Officials that not only allow geocaching, but promote it as well. Drama, Drama, Drama...

    Nola Cutts, mentioned in the article, said this:

    "LOL -- You know what? I talked for the better part of an hour with this reporter about my philosophy of "leave no trace" and my "trash out" activities and the progress MnGCA [Minnesota Geocaching Association] was making with having people pick up garbage on the trails and how I thought geocaching was environmentally friendly in that regard..... You have all heard this from me before

    Toward the end of the interview we were JOKING about how my husband hates to geocache and how I hate to fly fish. So what quote does he use, my speech about recycling or fly fishing? AAAAKKKKK!"

    They chose to make an almost faticious battle between the parks and the unknown techno-nature-hippies instead of talking about how interesting Geocaching is, and not only that, but most Geocachers that I know of in the Twin Cities, and I know that most with the Minnesota Geocaching Association also help clean up city, county and state parks during caching trips. I'm dissapointed the article was even made, and even more so that it's on Slashdot!!!

    The reporter failed to mention that the MN DNR is working on a plan for Geocaching in State Parks as well.

    On a final note, that is my visi.com they found mentioned in the 2nd to last paragraph. ;-)

    Reference URLs:

    Thread about article with the MN Geocaching Association:
    http://mngca.org/forum/viewtopic.php ?t=219

    Thread about relations with MN DNR with the MN Geocaching Association:
    http://mngca.org/forum/viewtopic.php ?t=108

    Cache that was visited in the article:
    http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_det ails.aspx? ID=44584

    Ian Stevens' Geocaching Profile (King Boreas) - the main cacher in the article - also an interesting note that he has *placed* more caches than any other cacher:
    http://www.geocaching.com/profile/default .asp?A=11 922

    • by uptownguy ( 215934 ) <UptownGuyEmail@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @10:00AM (#6114482)
      I decided long ago it was important to remember that journalism is not historical research. It is not really concerned with accuracy of quotes or with getting the story right. Perhaps only in rare instances will you have a Jayson Blair actually making things up. But perhaps not... I know for a fact that every single time I have ever been quoted in a newspaper article, the quote has contained substantial errors of the, "That's not what I said" and my face turning red sort. I also know that almost any mainstream news report about any project/technology/hobby of mine that I am know a lot about gets it wrong every time .

      I guess I am willing to conclude that if:

      1. I have been misquoted 100% of the time

      2. Every story on something I KNOW something about gets it wrong

      ...then it is fair to assume that MOST stories get it wrong MOST of the time. It isn't that I am cynical. I just don't think the media/journalists are in the business of telling the truth. They want to entertain. They want to sell. OK, well, noted. But if you want facts, you are aren't going to get them from a newspaper or channel 9.

      (PS: You are in charge of visi.com?! Wow... Personal aside to Saxton(34078) ... I've been with visi since 1996 and I've never had anything but exceptional service, prompt and accurate, with warm fuzzy feelings thrown in. Well, except for two weeks ago when they turned off the mail forwarding to two of the shell account servers without notifying anyone and I had like 50 friends/family/colleagues getting unable to send me email for 2 weeks... but other than that hiccup, it has been GREAT!!!)
  • by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:50AM (#6113993) Homepage
    The GPS arrow points to the east, and Stevens begins another session of geocaching -- a sport like a high-tech scavenger hunt -- in Cottage Grove's Ravine Park.

    Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt, not a high-tech scavenger hunt. In a scavenger hunt, you know what you're looking for, but you don't know where it is; in a treasure hunt, you know where it is, but you don't know what it is.
  • Cache In - Trash Out (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pbemfun ( 265334 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:50AM (#6113996)
    There is a saying with geocachers called "Cache In - Trash Out". Basically, it means that whenever you go geocaching, you're supposed to leave the park better than when you came (ie. picking up trash). There is even a day for this. [geocaching.com]

    I know some parks in my area that have become usuable because of this. This guy needs to get a clue and figure out that geocaching is not ruining parks.
    • Leaving a place better than you found it is also something that many Boy Scout troops practice as well. However, the few troops that do not follow this idea, make the others all unwelcome to the areas that they have visited. The only way to get rid ot this stigma is to leave a place better than you found it. It is comforting to know that others have taken up this practice. Anyone going into the outdoors should practice this simple idea, or face the destruction of beautiful places by the few who leave a
  • by rigau ( 122636 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:58AM (#6114024)
    Didn't you guys see his name? It is obvious why he is against geocaching. As a child he left the city to escape the constant taunts and comparisons to the other Brian Adams. However someone found out his dark secret and left a copy of the Robin Hood movie soundtrack in the geocache inside of his park ranger office. Needless to say he was traumatized by the event.
  • People start Geocaching. People can stop it!

    Use a modest sized green rubbermaid container for your cache. It's waterproof and it doesn't stand out in the scenery. Makes for a challenging find.

    Use common sense. If you want to plant a cache, don't put it near another one. Check the list first.
  • Bizarre (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:02AM (#6114048)
    "They worry that hundreds of people tramping through their woods will damage plants and habitat."

    Maybe someone should point out to these people that the idea for a park is _for humans to use it_. Now, it's certainly true that you don't want people to use it in such a way as to cause unnecessary damage, but building a park then worrying that people will go there is moronic, to say the least. It often seems to me that "conservationism" has gone so far that the people in charge are forgetting _why_ they're supposed to be conserving these places.
  • Why haven't drug dealers picked up on the whole geocaching craze?
  • by OS24Ever ( 245667 ) <trekkie@nomorestars.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:14AM (#6114127) Homepage Journal
    I mean, Parks are there for you to enjoy from afar. Heaven forbid that a new technology combined with a new idea have gotten people off their butts and exploring our national treasures.

    Better block it all off/make it illegal so that people will just stay home.

    I never understand the mentality of these folks. First, we don't get enough money because no one visits, then too many people are coming/going to the same place.

    It's like the age old ban kids from downtown because they use skateboards. Ban kids from 'cruising', ban people from the park. You keep banning people from doing things you're just going to turn them into criminals for doing something that doesn't harm anyone

  • Geocaching? (Score:3, Funny)

    by nherc ( 530930 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:15AM (#6114132) Journal
    I am the only one who had no idea what geocaching was? At first I was think maybe a web proxy server (a la what AOL does), but I couldn't figure out why someone would stick a server in a public park. HA!
  • by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:18AM (#6114151) Homepage Journal

    1. - We must preserve these lands for future generations (of humans).

    2. - Humans aren't allowed in these lands. Humans should stay in concrete boxes, close to the center of urban areas. Any other behavior is sprawl.

    • 1. - We must preserve these lands for future generations (of humans).

      2. - Humans aren't allowed in these lands.

      Your two assumptions generally are not held simultaneously by the same person, in my experience.

      Usually, if someone holds (1) with the "(of humans)" restriction, they only want to regulate the usage of managed lands, not disallow usage alltogether.

      If someone holds (2) in the form you presented, they drop the "(of humans)" restriction off of (1).

      This resolves the dichotomy.
  • I'd like to cache away my Mac Peforma 6116cd. Would this be bad? I'd wrap it in plastic and even enclude a UPS so you can test it in the field.

  • by setting up cache sites in high crime areas.

    Some places we could start:

    Methadone Clinics
    Blood & Crips Hangouts
    Recent Stabbing/Shooting/Jumper Down/ locations
    Train tracks of dimly lit urbab train station.

  • by infonography ( 566403 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:24AM (#6114197) Homepage
    One of the favorite old tricks of the Soviet spy networks was to do a variation of GeoCaching called a Dead Drop. [mit.edu]

    People would go to secret locations and leave messages and spy related items, never to return. Their contacts would then come at a totally different time and pick up said items.

    Geo Caching would provide far to many 'False Positives' to the Keystone Kops chasing terror suspects.

  • by Xformer ( 595973 ) <avalon73@caerleoOPENBSDn.us minus bsd> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:46AM (#6114381)
    If parks are upset because this is going on without any kickback for them, they're obviously missing the concept of Cache In/Trash Out (previously mentioned, I know). There's also some states (such as here in North Carolina) that allow placing caches after paying for permits. Better than an outright ban, at least. Caches are supposed to be maintained anyway, so that seems to work for a lot of people here.
  • People leaving squid servers lying around or what?

    The linked site is slashdotted so no help there...
  • Geocaching incident (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AIXman ( 134709 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @10:30AM (#6114769) Homepage

    I work on an air force base. One day a few months ago, I heard that traffic was backed up going out of one of the gates that is near a freeway overpass.

    Someone had reported that a person had left a suspicious package near the overpass.

    They closed the gate, called out the bomb squad, cavalry, etc., only to find that the suspicious package [planetnet.org] was a geocache.

    So be careful where you place your geocache, consider who might be watching and what conclusions they might jump to.

  • by ClayJar ( 126217 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @10:58AM (#6115038) Homepage
    I've now been geocaching for over two years. In that time, I've learned more about the environment and *done* more about the environment than I had done in the previous 24 years of my life. Geocaching is directly responsible for that.

    Thanks to what I've learned geocaching, when I go on hikes with friends, I'm the person imploring them to stay on the trails (*especially* if the trail is wet and muddy, since walking around the puddle will only make it wider). I've taught several people that bringing a canvas sack and trash bag along on a hike makes picking up litter a breeze.

    One example: I was out in the Henderson Swamp area of the Atchafalaya basin area of Louisiana last weekend. While out there, I picked up approximately 13 pieces of floating litter (depends on what you count... I counted the two plastic wrappers individually). Why did I spend my valuable personal watercraft time and gas on cleaning up a couple miles of litter along I-10 over the swamp? Because I learned to do it from CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) and geocaching. Geocaching has made me a more nature-conscious person... it'd be a shame to ban it more. (Note: In places like, say, Yellowstone near Old Faithful, I would be the first person to vote for a geocaching ban, but in, say, Baton Rouge parks... that'd be counter-productive.)

    Incidentally, I learned nature from geocaching, and I learned software rights from Linux. I've spent most of my free time for the last half-year developing an application for geocaching... alas, there are not enough Linux-loving application programmers who are also geocachers, and so a native Linux port isn't forthcoming, unfortunately... maybe one day...
  • Software Developer "This would be a great job if it wasn't for the user"

    Park Ranger "This would be a great job if it wasn't for the visitors"

    Software Developer "Look at all those bugs"
    Park Ranger "Look at all those bugs"

  • by TClevenger ( 252206 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @12:18PM (#6115889)
    Not all caches have to be in sensitive areas or in parks. One of my favorites was a "microcache" in Tracy, CA--basically an Altoids tin with magnets glued to the bottom and a rubber band to hold it closed. It was stuck to the inside top front panel of a newspaper box offering free realty ads. It was challenging to find, it was in an urban setting, and if the box was taken away, you're only out an Altoids tin, golf pencil and logbook.


  • by jeffx ( 62480 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @12:20PM (#6115914) Homepage
    Just a few years ago there was a big complaint from the National Park Service that no one ever visited the parks. No people are going and they are complaining that people are going, walking and seeing the parks? Something doesn't set right with me.

    I am a geocacher and I have never seen a cache cause damage to a location.

    Two years from now, if they get the regulations, they will again be complaining that no one visits the parks again.
  • by raytracer ( 51035 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @01:07PM (#6116297)

    Firstly, I'm an irregularly active cacher (78 finds or so at last count). I find the hobby to be a lot of fun, and good exercise. It gets me motivated to go to parks I might overlook and to hike deeper into them than I normally would. I've also attended numerous local caching events, and met a lot of nice people.

    In all the 78 caches that I've found, I've never seen any sign that the placement of this cache was even visible, much less causing any damage to the surrounding environment with a single exception. I once found the contents of a cache scattered all over the side of a hill. Why? Because somebody had not read the rules, and had left cookies in the cache. Oh well. What did I do? I carefully gathered every scrap of stuff and repackaged it all. Problem solved.

    Caching is an environmentally friendly activity. It gets people out to parks they normally wouldn't, and gets them to pick up trash in those parks. Just one motivated individual can clean up a lot of trash, and caching puts hundreds or thousands of them out every weekend.

    I do understand the motivation in trying to limit damage to sensitive areas, say, where endangered birds or plants can be found, but cachers are more than willing to try to adopt these reasonable restrictions. There is currently a ban on geocaching in national parks. Guess what? You won't find any caches in national parks. I hope that state parks do not follow suit in making a general ban, but instead work with geocachers to try to establish reasonable guidelines for the placement of caches. The idea of moving caches at least once every 12 months to prevent trail formation is a sane and reasonable solution, and I doubt that any cacher would have any issues with that.

    Give it a try. It's a lot of fun.

  • by RogueWarrior65 ( 678876 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @01:29PM (#6116509)
    Just thought I'd pass on some personal experience. I started geocaching more than a year ago and let me tell you, this is a great deal of fun. I've done more hiking in the last year than I've ever done in my life. Being a software engineer, I desperately need some solid exercise and gyms are a complete waste of money, IMHO. Having a goal (finding the cache) is much more enjoyable than taking a walk. Having done close to fifty caches, I can say that none of these affects the environment. In fact, Geocaching promotes taking a trash bag with you to pick up the litter left by the rest of the fair-weather hikers. Who raised these littering boneheads is beyond me. Geocaching is not allowed in the National Park system which I find ridiculous. A recent experience at the Grand Canyon affirmed my opinion that evironmentalists are hypocrits and elitists. I attended a nighttime slide show entitled "The sounds of the canyon". The ranger made it very clear that the park service doesn't like the helicopters flying around even though they have a strict flight path. They also make it very clear that it's illegal to ignore anyone in trouble. The next morning, I rose at oh-dark-hundred to go to Yaki Point to take sunrise pictures. Having driven out to the site, I discovered that the National Park service in it's infinite wisdom closed the access road to vehicular traffic. I parked at a picnic area and started to hike in with all my camera gear. Twice a shuttle bus blew past me even though I tried to flag them down. When I finally made it out to the point, I spent about an hour taking pictures. The only sound I could hear was the sound of those damn shuttle busses. IMHO, The National Park Service has become extremist in it's view of visitors. If you're not a serious outdoorsman, we don't want you past the visitor center. This is evidenced by Denali's one access road into the park on which you're only allowed to travel if you take the scheduled bus trip or if you've got a backcountry permit.
  • awesome! (Score:3, Funny)

    by spazoid12 ( 525450 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @02:10PM (#6116903)
    This geocaching idea is great. Never again will I have to hike out my own trash!

    Of course, this ruins the old trick of sneaking a bowling ball into a friend's backpack that he'll be forced to hike out with...
  • by jemenake ( 595948 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @05:20PM (#6118870)
    But officials in other parks, faced with an onslaught of geocachers, are scrambling to develop restrictions
    I agree.... the last thing we want is more people in public parks and natural spaces. :)

    Now, on a more serious note, when I explain the geocaching thing to friends or co-workers, if they still look at me funny after I explain the whole GPS and prize-exchange thing, then I just use my standard: "Okay... just think of it as an excuse to go hiking.". Ultimately, I think that that's the end result: marginally more people getting out of their homes and walking around in nice, big public areas and getting some fresh air.

    Now, although the rangers and park officials claim that they'd like more people to appreciate the outdoors, I think they'd prefer that they appreciate them from afar. Like just about every other line of work, I'm sure they often mumble amongst themselves: "This job would be great if it weren't for the customers".

    Bottom line: If you want more people at the park, then you've got more people at the park. Deal with the increased foot traffic... that's what you're paid to do... to manage the park. However, if you *don't* want more people, then either close the damn park entirely or require permits or something. But don't go preaching about how people should get back to nature if you're not prepared for them to do it during your shift.
  • by Eukalia01 ( 542612 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @06:58PM (#6119624)
    There was a parks meeting here in Loveland to disuss this subject. Many Geocachers showed up and had a say in it. In the end they banned all Geocaches in the parks including Virtual Caches. A virtual caches is when you give coordinates to a point of interest ie: Nice statue, big tree, spectacular view. But nothing is actually left that was not there before. They decided this was bad. Never mind it infringes on free speech. Banned! Next. It was really amazing and wrong.
  • by Kaz Riprock ( 590115 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:11PM (#6119698)

    I think the geocachers in the state where the article was written need to take a clue from the Maryland Geocaching Society ( http://www.mdgps.net [mdgps.net] ). This is from their self-description and sounds VERY appropriate:

    The Maryland Geocaching Society is an organization for Geocachers run by Geocachers. The group was originally founded in order to preserve Geocaching in our State Parks. At that time Maryland State Parks, in particular the Patapsco State Park was asking for the removal of all caches from the property which they managed. Recognizing this as a very serious issue regarding the sport in the area, a group of avid geocachers gathered to form the Maryland Geocaching Society. The very first order of business was to reach out to park officials in an effort to come to an understanding and save the State Park Geocaches. Through a lot of hard work, patience and cooperation a set of State Park guidelines was finally agreed upon and adopted by Patapsco State Park. This same set of guidelines would later go on to be adopted state wide! If our founding members had not stepped up when they did, there is no telling how many parks we as geocachers would be shut out of.

    I think pre-registering geocaches on State Park land is important to the health of the trails and non-trail environments. Getting people outside and bringing attention to our much maligned parks is important and geocaching done on park land is a great way to do both (as any...and many here...of the geocachers know).

    By laying out guidelines to protect state lands (many of which mirror guidelines that geocaching.com/GroundSpeak lay out in the first place for caching etiquette), the parks will stay healthy and no worse for the wear and the people will get out to enjoy some of the non-urban delights around them.

    This of course does not preclude urban caches which are a lot of fun too (and feel much more like espionage...even given the current temperment of most Americans towards city-lurking).
  • by sbaker ( 47485 ) on Thursday June 05, 2003 @12:15AM (#6121054) Homepage
    Most parks in our area have either zero or one geocaches in them and probably about 10,000 pieces of actual trash. Put another way, within 100 miles of my home, there are 400 GeoCaches. How many items of trash are there within 100 miles?

    So, if I remove ten pieces of trash, then add one geocache, the park is winning overall.

    Even if you consider a geocache to be 'trash', it's an utterly negligable increment on the load of trash in most of the parks I've visited.

    Then there is the 'cache in - trash out' initiative where geocachers go a-hunting with a large black bin bag and remove LARGE quantities of trash along with visiting the geocache.

    Geocaching is at worst benign and at best a glorious way to find great new places to go. It's an ideal use of public land.

Air is water with holes in it.