Forum: Questions And Answers About Geocaching
Topic: Has anyone contacted NY DEC about caching?
started by: Cracker7M
Posted by Cracker7M on July 03 2003,1:36 pmHere in western NY, there are many caches already placed on NY state forest lands and Wildlife Management Areas, controlled by the DEC.
I stopped in at the Region 8 DEC office in Avon to ask about maps of these areas local to me. A gentleman came out with several, and I discussed some rules and regulations I had questions on. Then I figured I'd ask if they had a policy on geocaching.
To my surprise, he had never heard of it. I described it, and he didnt seem too thrilled with the idea of leaving "trash" behind, as the DEC lands are all "trash out".
He did say that the best thing to do would be to get ahold of the Forestry Tech that handles the specific area in question. Sounded like this meant that they would leave the decision about geocaching up to the Techs....
Before we each start contacting DEC about our own caches, how about we get an official spokesperson or organization to try contacting DEC at a higher level?
I think this would be better than each of us trying to go thru the local techs, and possibly turning several or all of them off the idea, and having them go back to the higher ups, who then make an uninformed state-wide ban on geocaching, with us as cachers not having a chance to put up an organized argument.
Maybe this is something for NYGO to look into?
Posted by PC Medic on July 03 2003,3:11 pmWith the number of caches in NY State (many within these parks and areas) the fact that he was unaware of geocacing is proof to how little impact it has when done responsibly
With that said, often easier to ask forgiveness that to ask permission. In other words...why stir the hornets nest!
Posted by Cracker7M on July 03 2003,3:42 pmI agree to a point....
But what happens when DEC finds out that there are dozens of caches on their lands and they dont like it, and remove them all, and we as cachers are out some of the best caching areas?
He didnt have a problem with people accessing the areas, or bushwhacking (except in the very small numbers of areas that are environmentally sensitive).
The DEC actually allows a lot of activity on their lands....Even camping within limitations, and even ATV access by permit. There arent a lot of rules and regulations, and those there are are very reasonable.
Like I said, he just didnt seem to happy about us leaving a box of "stuff" behind...but he did suggest contacting the Techs and see what they say, since they seem to have a lot of control over their respective DEC lands.
I think they would not have a problem with caching if we made it clear we can place them and maintain them responsibly.
But it IS just a matter of time before they realise there is a lot of caching going on on their lands. So do WE decide HOW they learn about it, or wait till one bad apple makes an incident that turns a mole hill into a mountain and ruins it all together? All it could take is one cacher looking for a cache to get hurt, lost, or do something really irresponsible, or be somewhere doing something they arent supposed to be, and mention that they are "caching" and the memos and bad press could start flying, and then DEC will HAVE to make a position on caching....Which could in this circumstance very well be a ban on and removal of any existing caches.....
If there were just a few caches on DEC lands, i would say, sure....let it go....what they dont know wont hurt....But I think its near time to see if we can get a good policy out of them about caching. We already have a large number of caches placed, so why not try to work with them and use the established caches as examples of responsible caching?
Anyway, I'm just throwing out ideas....
I will still be seeking and placing caches without notifying DEC...But I think the time is coming when we have to contact them in a professional, organized manner and see what they say...
Posted by Quinn on July 03 2003,4:56 pmWell I have my opinion as well.
I am all for keeping hold of the laws, after all they are there to protect us and our lands. But I also think the land belongs to us and not the DEC. They are there to maintain those laws though so I go with the flow.
We all know how th e national parks feel about caching but some areas are staring to come around. With news about Geocaching hitting some area on the globe just about everyday and with those reports explaining how Geocachers not only look for containers hidden from view but also pick up and clean the areas and parks they are contained in, I think this will take care of itself over time. The pro's to geocaching out weigh the con's in my book.
But I do think that if they feel their (our) parks are being usd in this fashion just to generate a cash flow for someone they might just close those doors on us all without being able to explain what we are about.
Yes, NYGO is a good start for something like this within NY. They are trying to do just what you mention, they want to have one group become voice for a large number, this in itself is a good idea because it is well thought out and going to the table as a group is much better than one person showing up saying they want to dump a box in the park.
I would contact NYGO and se what type of information or advise they may have for you.
Posted by barrington on July 03 2003,8:10 pmIf something is not specifically prohibited, then it is allowed. The quickest way to get something prohibited is to call attention to it! If something is offensive, then those it offends will complain; when something is as inherently inoffensive as geocaching (in most cases) it goes unnoticed and there's no problem. Frequently (most often?) people in "official" positions feel it is their duty to regulate every aspect of their field; those who wave a red flag at them and shout "Hey! Look what I'm doing!" are considerably less than helpful. The geocaching game has evolved over the last couple of years as an innocent, low-key, fun activity. Let's keep it that way, and not screw it up!
Posted by Cracker7M on July 03 2003,10:40 pmWell, technically, as it stands, geocaching IS against the regulations already in place.
All of the lands under DEC are trash in, trash out.
Caches definately fit into the trash category as the regs are currently written.
Posted by PC Medic on July 04 2003,8:56 amActually according to BLM standards it is NOT trash.
This was actually topic of another thread some time ago in which they issued a statement to all BLM controlled land managers that geocaching was a legitimate use of the land BUT that it should be monitored closely to see if any adverse effects were noticed.
Posted by Cracker7M on July 04 2003,10:31 amPC Medic,
Well, we're not talking BLM. We're talking NY Dept of Environmental Conservation, an entirely different, though similar, agency.
You say according to BLM standards, geocaching is an acceptable use of lands, and that a statement was issued to all the land managers about it.
Well, thats what I'm talking about......How did the BLM find out about caching? How did they decide it was acceptable? So they now have an official policy on it? So do they now have geocaching SPECIFICALLY mentioned as an approved activity in their rules and regulations?
Right now, DEC's stance is, if you carried it in, carry it out.
I think it would be very easy to get an official position of approval out of the DEC if we put up an organized request/presentation.
Sorry for playing the devils advocate, especially since I am usually very anti-establishment. (Govment already has too many #### laws & rules )
But I think this would be an easy thing to get a positive response on, without all the silly restrictions that I've heard other park agencies require.
I'm just figuring if WE present geocaching to the DEC, we'll get a more favorable image and resolution, then if they realise we have caches all over their land later on, and THEY decide what the rules regulations for caching should be, if they even decide to allow it.
Think of it this way:
You own 100 acres of forested land in your backyard, complete with wildlife, and even a beaver pond which basically has its own ecosystem.
Out ofthe blue someone from an organization representing an outdoor activity comes to you asking for access to your land. They present a case that promises responsible use of your land, and will agree to abide by any rules that you feel are necessary. You decide to let them have the access with basic restrictions like no destruction of any structures, no digging, no harming the wildlife, etc,etc.
They are happy, because they have the land access, and you are satisfied, because you get to be the hero by letting other people enjoy your land and it makes you all fuzzy-warm inside (OK, I'm stretching), & you have a known organization to call if there are problems.
On the other hand, what if these people did NOT come to you at all, yet you find they are back there accessing your land, and unknown to you they hide something that is posted all over the internet so everyone in the world knows about it but you, and its inviting more and more people to come access your land, which you never gave permision for. Even if these people are being very responsible in the use of the land itself, would you say they were acting responsibly for not asking permission first?....Especially when there is a nation-wide organization promoting the activity?
What would you do then? would you allow them to continue, or would you be upset and just say no?
Posted by Dekaner on July 05 2003,8:50 amHey everyone - sorry it took me so long to post. A lot of very good points have been made. From NYGO's perspective, this is one of the most important reasons we came into existance.
I agree with Cracker7M that it is just a matter of time until they find out about Geocaching. If we don't tell them about it first, the manner in which they find out may have a negative impact. No one likes to find out after the fact that something has been going on aroung them without their knowledge.
That being said, we've already made a lot of progress with some of the other governmental bodies such as the Olmsted Park Conservancy, City of Buffalo Parks Dept., the Buffalo Audubon Society and the NY State Parks Dept. We (NYGO) were also asked by Allegany State Park to host a table to inform the public about Geocaching (< shamless plug >). I believe that we have advocates in these groups that would be willing to speak on the behalf of Geocaching. We have also developed a 12 page presentation on Geocaching that we can leave with them that explains what Geocaching is and what we're asking for.
Why don't you contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can figure out the best way to approach them at a higher level. Thanks.
Posted by Rocky on July 05 2003,2:00 pmPlease read what barrington said 3 times, it says it all!
"If something is not specifically prohibited, then it is allowed. The quickest way to get something prohibited is to call attention to it! If something is offensive, then those it offends will complain; when something is as inherently inoffensive as geocaching (in most cases) it goes unnoticed and there's no problem. Frequently (most often?) people in "official" positions feel it is their duty to regulate every aspect of their field; those who wave a red flag at them and shout "Hey! Look what I'm doing!" are considerably less than helpful. The geocaching game has evolved over the last couple of years as an innocent, low-key, fun activity. Let's keep it that way, and not screw it up!"
The people you will talk to do not get a payccheck unless they do something, we are talking about people who have nothing to do except regulate, please lets let this sleeping dog lie
Posted by Cracker7M on July 05 2003,6:48 pmRocky, dont worry about me spilling the beans.....If anyone does, it should be a well organized group that tries it.
I agree with you and Barrington, but this statement is the crux of the matter:
"The quickest way to get something prohibited is to call attention to it! "
What do you think is happenning with the D&C and News 13 running stories on caching? And the "recruiting" we do by introducing family, friends, and other people we come across on the trails to geocaching?
We ARE calling attention to it ourselves. Like I said before, I REALLY have this thing against regulations, and those who live to make them. BUT, on the other hand, I wouldnt want to not be able to geocache on all those DEC lands...
I for one would not feel right hiding caches if they were not allowed...Although I still might seek those placed by someone else...
Posted by Dekaner on July 19 2003,8:36 pmJust following up to see if any progress on this has been made.
Posted by Cracker7M on July 21 2003,8:48 amSorry for not answering you sooner, Dekaner.
I just replied to your email......
Posted by lighthouserocket on July 22 2003,6:28 amdon't they have laws against laughing now?
it's too early in the morning to come up with anything more constructive to say..