Forum: General Discussion
Topic: Geocaching "enlightenment" Chapter 2
started by: DudleyGrunt

Posted by DudleyGrunt on April 30 2010,8:18 am
Second piece written by a Northern Virgina geocaher
< Original NoVAGO Thread >

Geocaching "enlightenment" Chapter 2 "Permission"
by twowheelin

Quote
This “Chapter” is entitled PERMISSION (the World English Dictionary © defines it as:  consent, authorization, go-ahead (informal), approval, agreement, acquiescence, leave (formal), OK (informal), say-so (informal), green light, clearance, sanction, blessing.  I have recently noticed upwards of one dozen caches that appear to be placed without regard to established guidelines, and/or do not appear to have permission for placement (at least there is no indication on the cache page).  This is not good!  Do you need permission??  Yah youbetcha you need it!!

If you could step back in time about 9 years you’d find that permission to place a geocache “sorta” followed the infamous “Frisbee Rule”.  Meaning, if you were planning to place a cache in a location that didn’t require formal permission to play Frisbee…then it wasn’t necessary to seek permission for a geocache either.  That rather loose and informal “guideline” worked pretty well back then, mostly because there weren’t may geocachers, and there weren’t many geocaches!!  Things have changed - BIG TIME.  There are an estimated 3 to 4 million geocachers worldwide, and they are out there hunting over 1 million geocaches.  There are 10,000 alone here in the Commonwealth.  I guess you could say that the pastime has “gone viral”, and as a result - geocaches and geocahers get noticed!!

Chapter 2:  “Permission



The following is quoted from the Geocaching website:  “Did you seek permission from the land owner or manager? If you place a cache on private land, you must ask permission before hiding your cache. If you place it on public lands, contact the land manager to find out about any rules or restrictions.”

Locally, many of our parks, preserves, and recreational areas have established formal written guidelines which must be followed when placing a geocache.  Failure to follow these guidelines places you as the cache owner, and those who hunt your cache, as well as geocaching in general in jeopardy.  The current known local guidelines (which pertain primarily to larger area parks, woodland areas, and natural areas) are:

FCPA (Fairfax County Park Authority) Guidelines < http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/geocaching.htm >

PWC ( Prince William County) Regulations (Pending - a comprehensive set of guidelines/regulations (developed by the Chief Ranger) was presented to the PWC Park Board in February 2010.  Once approved they will be added here.

NVRPA (Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) Parks (I am not aware of any formal interface with NVRPA concerning geocache placements.  No formal guidelines exist, and it is currently the general consensus that tacit approval is granted as long as the area of cache placement is monitored for adverse environmental impact).

RA (Reston Association) Common Areas.  Quoted from the Common Area Resolution of the RA Covenants.  
"13. Geocaching (use of Geographic Positions Systems ("GPS") to locate a cache of materials) is permitted by members only under the following rules:
a. Members interested in performing geocaching must notify the Association of all cache sites.
b. Cache sites located on common areas must be completely hidden from view.
c. Cache sites are not permitted near wildflowers, a wildlife nest, or den.
d. Cache sites located in the common area known as the Walker Nature Education Center, must be no more than  10 feet from pathway or trail edge.
e. The Association shall not be held liable for any injuries, or personal property damage incurred by those participating  in geocaching on the common area."

BRMC (Bull Run Mountain Conservancy)  The BRMC Geocaching Guidelines are published in the NoVAGO Forums < http://www.novago.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1419 >

Virginia State Parks (Guidelines - < http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/documents/geoguidelines.pdf >  Application - < http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/forms/DCR199-194.pdf > )

Personal opinion:  It is always a good idea to obtain private property permission in writing, or to at least record the name, position of authority, and telephone number of the individual who granted said permission.

You’ll face an entirely different set of circumstances when placing an “urban” style cache (pocket park, parking lot, lamp post skirt, guardrail, electric power distribution box or transformer, sign, bench, rain gutter, gate post, storm drain, etc., etc., etc..  (You get my point)  As stated in the Geocaching website quote above “If you place it on public lands, contact the land manager to find out about any rules or restrictions“.  Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to at least attempt to determine who has oversight responsibility for the location, and to find out if there are any rules or restrictions on placing your cache there.  There are very few (i. e. none) areas of unclaimed real estate - someone, somewhere owns it!  Very often…caches placed in urban settings tend to draw lots of “unwanted” attention…sometimes from the constabulary, but that’s a topic for another “chapter”.  

Bottom line - if there are published guidelines, follow them to the letter - no exceptions!!!  If there are no guidelines, you should at least make an honest attempt to find out who owns, or is responsible for the property, explain what geocaching is all about, and ask permission to place your cache.  Finally…although I do NOT condone it - you may think it easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission…just understand that you, and those who seek your cache will have to accept the consequences if things to bad.  Being charged with “criminal trespass” is NO joke...to say nothing of paying for a police, fire, suspicious package, or terrorist activity incident response!!

Again, debate and comments are welcome, but please stay on topic for the chapter at hand “Permission”.

Bill



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