Geocaching (NOT) taking a beating in from Government Officials in North Carolina (part 3 of 3) guest commentary by DeBaere

Courtesy of Julian March/Star News Media

Above is Lodge Road on The Holly Shelter Game Land, about 15 miles NNE of Wilmington, North Carolina. There are about 600 listed caches on The HSGL, The Bling Shelter Power Run (link to first cache in the series), which is generally considered a roadside power trail (over half of them on the road above). Game Lands are used primarily for hunting of course, and are administered by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commision.On April 19th, an article came out in the Jacksonville Daily News alleging that “Geocaching draws the scrutiny of state officials” for caching on that State gamelands, as found here on the web. Not really a bad article, and a founding member and current board member of the North Carolina Geocaching Organization was interviewed. But one cannot deny the negative connotations of the attention grabbing headline! Geocaching is under scrutiny? Why? Who told the reporter that? We noticed commentary on this article by well known North Carolina based Geocacher DeBaere (Dave DeBaeremaeker) on Google+, and asked if he would let us post it here as “guest commentary”, to which he graciously agreed. Read the article first of course, and then his excellent opinion piece below.

Courtesy of Julian March/Star News Media

This is an opinion piece based on an article with an unfortunately sensationalistic headline, but very positive content.

Some of you may have seen this article.  Some of you, based on some comments, haven’t read past the headline and realized this is likely the best thing that has happened to geocaching in a very long while.

The headline is sensationalistic crap.  The meat of the article is pretty cool. I am hoping people will read past the headline and get to the meat of the article before they go off half-cocked and get up in arms over something that is likely going to be a positive thing in the end.

So yes, the “government” in the form of the land manager assigned to manage some game lands in North Carolina is taking a hard look at geocaching.  The reason?  To encourage more use of the game lands in a manageable way  How do I know this?  He told me personally.  I met him thru a coincidental happenstance at a friends Thanksgiving dinner.  We talked a while, and he was very interested in learning about geocaching as he managed the land, and wanted more people to use it.  He wanted to have some meetings with me to discuss it, but due to certain geographic issues (I live across the state) I asked some cachers who were more local to have those discussions.

Now if you read the article, you will see it basically says 4 things:

1)  We want geocachers to use our land – this is a great thing. No problems here.  Lets get more of this happening.

2) We want to know where the geocaches are hidden.  This is fair enough.  This is exactly what the guidelines require anyway – to seek permission from the land managers.  No big deal here.  They want to ensure ecologically sensitive areas are protected, and that geocaches are not accidentally destroyed during controlled burns.

3) Require geocachers to wear blaze orange – This is common sense.  These are game lands where people with large guns and great aim are looking to shoot living things.  Common sense dictates that if one is in such a location, and one does not want to become a target, one should try as much as possible to look like something else.  A giant human reflector seems like a good choice.

4) Paying for use.  This is new, and would kinda suck, however it is not exactly unprecedented.  I have paid day use fees in California, Oregon, South Carolina and Newfoundland, to use a park for geocaching. I’ve also paid parking fees, and entrance fees in other places to do the same.  This is no different.   I would be kinda annoyed if it ended up being an annual fee, but if there was a $6 day use fee, I’d pay it, and pay it happily.  I’ve paid more and gotten less from a land use fee.

I am actually very excited about this. This could be the best thing that happened  to geocaching in a very long time. Why? Because it both legitimizes geocaching as an activity, and it could provide an excellent framework and model that can be used to help get geocaching into other areas where it is currently banned.

So keep calm, and cache on. The future just got a little brighter for us.

Dave is a geocacher, amateur adventurer, and resident alien. Despite growing up Canadian, he now lives in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife, kids, and collection of first to find prizes which he is using as his retirement fund. You can follow along with his adventures and hijinks on his blog Only Googlebot Reads This blog, or can be found on Google Plus.

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