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Orange Is The New Geo-Uniform?

construction-vest-hiWould you don bright orange hunting garb to go geocaching? Or buy a permit to search for certain hides?

Wildlife officials in the American state of North Carolina hope the answer is yes as they consider ways to regulate the use of their game lands by geocachers.

ncwrc_logoAlready, conservation staff have erected signs in some areas requesting that geocachers wear the same blaze-orange clothing as their gun-toting peers for added safety during hunting season.

Now the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has established a geocaching committee to consider the sport’s impact on the nearly 81,000 hectares of public and private lands it manages, according to a report in The Star-News.

Historically, these game lands have been the domain of more traditional outdoor activities, with hunters, trappers and anglers required to buy a US$60 (NZ$70) permit each year to participate. A portion of these licensing fees helps the commission maintain its land.

However, there are no such rules or permits for newer hobbies like mountain-biking and geocaching. As the latter’s popularity grows, the commission says it has decided to re-examine its recreation policies, mostly for safety reasons.

“We burn the game lands and we mow in certain areas, and sometimes geocaches are in these areas, so they get ruined or damaged,” says Erik Christofferson, division chief for the Wildlife Resources Commission. “Sometimes they’re placed in sensitive areas where there are endangered species. We’re trying to just have it a little more organised so we know exactly where they are, and so the locations are approved.”

Gotcha: Scott McLean, a conservation technician with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, uncovers a geocache at the Holly Shelter Game Lands. Photo: MIKE SPENCER/STAR-NEWS

Gotcha: Scott McLean, a conservation technician with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, uncovers a geocache at the Holly Shelter game lands. Photo: MIKE SPENCER/STAR-NEWS

Scott McLean, a conservation technician at Holly Shelter game lands – home to the 561-geocache Bling Power Run by Team Yo Mama (starting at GC37PT9) – says in general, hunters there haven’t really complained about geocachers, though some would like all recreational users to pay a fee to access the land. “I have heard them say, ‘If they’re going to use the game land, they should pay too’. It’s something to consider.”

Bling ring: Team Yo Mama's 561-geotrail Bling Power Run attracts many find-hungry geocachers to the Holly Shelter game lands.

Bling ring: Team Yo Mama’s 561-geotrail Bling Power Run attracts many find-hungry geocachers to the Holly Shelter game lands.

Christofferson says all options are on the table for the commission’s geocaching committee. It’s aiming to strike a balance that allows both traditional and non-traditional recreational users to continue frequenting the game lands.

“The goal here is to continue to encourage this activity but also to have some sort of method to where we know where these things are and can control it so it benefits both parties. We don’t want to stop them from using the game lands.”

Unsurprisingly, his proposals are not sitting well with geocachers, who quickly racked up 22 complaints on the newspaper’s website.

“Why should geocachers pay to step on the land of the state park?” asks Leslie McNeil, of Georgia. “Don’t we already pay an admission fee/day fee to go to the state park? We don’t take anything from the park. We go out and enjoy the trails, sign a log or two, and pick up trash that we find on the ground.

“We do no damage. I do think the state park should know where the caches are located but they can go out with a GPS or access a geocaching website or go out with a cacher. I guess people are afraid of what they don’t understand.”

In a similar vein, Molly Vaughan points out that hunters get to take deer or turkey home with them. “That is what your fee pays for. Geocachers don’t take anything off the land.”

“Geocachers are hikers who make occasional stops to sign a piece of paper. By all accounts this activity has peacefully co-existed with the other users of the land while generating revenue for the local economy. So why are they looking to add regulation? Just because?” asks Dave Bowdish.

Charlotte resident Jennifer Amanda Barrett (GC handle: GirlScoutBarrett) writes:  “As a fellow geocacher, I can say that all geocachers I know abide by all policies that the parks create. There are the rare ones out there that place caches wherever, BUT other cachers let them know about any policy breaking and it is quickly addressed and fixed. In locations that do not allow caches, we set up virtuals  … For the most part we are happy-go-lucky people that love the outdoors.”

But the final word has to go to Melissa Moran-Wesolowski, who wrote: “Really! Hunters quit acting like crybabies and suck if up. We just won’t go to Holly Shelter. You won’t get my money.”

*Would you comply with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s geo-proposals? Could you afford to pay an extra US$60 annually to target certain hides? Tell us below …

7 comments

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  1. Ruben H.

    Orange is the new color! Look at Bryan Roth. http://rh-design.be/RubensEmpire/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/RHCV-BryanRoth.jpg 😛

    1. kjwx

      Nice one, Ruben – though, INATN has long known that Mr Roth has a real eye for geo-style.

  2. Bored

    Having to pay an extra fee when we don’t actually cause any costs to be incurred is ridiculous but if they’re so worried about geocachers not wearing orange vests, North Carolina could go the absurd way of the New England states. There, it is illegal for ANYBODY to be in a hunting area without wearing an orange hunting vest. (I vaguely remember the sign saying the fine was $7500.

  3. Bored

    However, I should’ve added that it does seem that NC’s wildlife commission is actually concerned about the integrity of the geocaches. If they’re going to actually DO something to protect them from being muggled, THAT would be worth *something*. But $60 just makes it seem like what they’re really interested in is making money.

  4. Michael Cremer

    Actually there is 636…637 is you count the BLING SKULL 🙂 and I believe 3 or 4 others which were there before we place the BLING 🙂
    TEAM YO MAMA

  5. Jim Wulff

    Orange should be your choice, though common sense dictates you wear something bright.

    As for the fee, in Colorado the issue has always been presented as “the hunters and fishermen subsidize search & rescue for everyone.” They used to say, “if you don’t buy a license and you use S&R services, you might get billed for it.” To my knowledge, this has never happened. Recently they came out with a Colorado Search & Rescue (COSAR) card that hikers etc, can buy for $10, that supposedly will pay for S&R if you should need it. I buy it and it seems a reasonable solution.

  6. Dane Morgan

    We don’t want to pay taxes, we done’t want to pay user fees, but we want all of these lands available to us for our sporting activities. At some point we need to reconcile the fact that public lands are being closed down throughout the country because of austerity programs, and if you want to keep them open that leaves user fees. the lands are managed and maintained by real people who also want to feed their families.

    Hikers and geocachers need to stop wanting all of the benefits without any of the costs.

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