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Fee Demo groundwork may save Geocaching on our public lands
(Political satire, in part)

The Oregonian published a front-page article by Matthew Preusch on February 11, 2005, “GPS-driven geocaching falls astray of plans for Badlands east of Bend”. I was quoted in the article. It has been widely reproduced. Scott Silver says ”It's a good, balanced, article that is well worth reading”.

Scott Silver, a nationally recognized guardian of free access to our public lands and author of , sent me a message with kind words about my (thoughtful and) vocal support of creation of a Badlands Wilderness, about the repeal of the 2005 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), about the use of appropriate Alpine Anchors in certain appropriate Wilderness areas and my continuing support for his concern about the apparent agenda for commercialization and Disneyfication of outdoor recreation on our public lands.

Scott also expressed concern about my support for the activity called Geocaching in

Scott said “I'm no fan of geocaching. I place using advanced technology to create a hide and seek game, on a par with Laser-Tag. If folks wish to play this game that's fine. WHERE they play it is, however, another matter”.

“Bob Speik, is a personal friend and strong champion of protecting the Badlands as Wilderness. Bob's a staunch opponent of fee-demo and is committed in his opposition of the American Recreation Coalition's entire Industrial Strength Wreckreation agenda. For all of those things and for his great support of my own work, I thank Bob immensely. Where we differ in opinion is over Wilderness-rock bolting (which he supports) and geocaching".

The following is in answer to his message.

Firstly, I agree with Scott that there appears to be a Conservative plan to cripple our public land management agencies by under-funding them, thereby creating land management and maintenance problems. Then perhaps these problems might best be resolved by private contractors, paid by our new 2005 “Recreation Access Tax”, (the FLREA) and perhaps also from proceeds from the cash sale to private development interests, of special parcels of our national lands such as proposed in Sisters, Oregon.

An alternative to such privatization might be to return to traditional levels of Congressional funding of our tradition based land management agencies paid for by traditional higher taxes on the very wealthy and a more traditional view of our national mission as one of the several world powers. Our great public National Parks and national recreational forests were built under this traditional plan. Perhaps all that is needed is a change (change of direction) in Administration.

Now, Geocaching is not “a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants follow clues posted on the internet and use hand held global positioning systems to locate hiding places for items” as described by Derrick Crandall, President of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), , in his plea for unlimited commercial access to our public lands.

Geocaching is a relatively new activity in which a single website,, manages the free posting of geographic locations and logs the comments of finders of whatever is there. The finders are using maps, compasses and hand held GPS radio receivers to explore the countryside, Leaving No Trace.

The primary goal of Geocaching is to lead one to interesting geographic places and features that may go unknown or un-noticed off the beaten track. Finding and exchanging trinket items is a minor diversion for most experienced Geocachers who leave nothing and take nothing but memories and photographs.

Scott Silver notes that Geocaching uses slogans like the ARC. Indeed, one of the most disturbing trends in America today is the tactic in which some politicians and industry lobbies like the ARC, co-opt such non-commercial activities as Geocaching to further their own commercial agendas.

I believe “Cache-In-Trash-Out” and “Leave-No-Trace” are being co-opted by the ARC’s off-highway vehicle advertising slogan, “Tread-Lightly”.

Should Geocaching be banned in the proposed Badlands Wilderness?

A few years ago, the Forest Service arbitrarily required that all fixed climbing anchors be removed from Wilderness areas under their agency management. Soon, there was a national debate on Wilderness climbing anchors in which Scott Silver participated.

It was successfully argued by mountain climbers that those alpine anchors that were truly needed for protection by traditional mountaineers on dangerous summits, should remain in Wilderness. These little metal hangers or old fixed pins were few and un-obtrusive and could be easily managed in local Districts. Inappropriate bolting for Sport Climbing in a certain front-country Wilderness (which provoked the issue) was eliminated as a result of this debate.

This important national discussion of fixed alpine anchors in the Wilderness resulted in a non-policy action, leaving the reasonable decision with the local District Manager listening to the local folks.

Wilderness advocates like Scott Silver and I support a congressionally protected Badland Wilderness - land that can not be sold to developers by future local land managers under pressure to facilitate Bend's urban sprawl and to fund short term needs by selling capitol assets. So do most thoughtful people in the greater Bend community. (Now this is not to say "that anyone who does not support wilderness status for the Badlands is not 'thoughtful' and in fact must be some dumb, uninformed moron" as has been inferred. Some smart people have their own alternative personal agendas.)

At the present time, placing Geocaches in Wilderness areas across the nation is controlled by the local land manager - such as the Forest Service or the BLM.

In Central Oregon, Geocaching was prohibited in the southerly Three Sisters Wilderness just a short time ago, by the Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District. (Just on local general principals even though no Geocaches had been placed there). However, there are several Geocaches in the adjoining Three Sisters Wilderness which is managed by the Sisters Ranger District. Some of these Geocaches have been in place for three years. They are watched (managed) by the Sisters Rangers, who report no problems. The Sisters Ranger District is to be commended. Geocachers need to communicate with the Bend-Ft. Rock District. Both Districts are in the Deschutes National Forest

Whether or not Geocaching may continue in Wilderness might possibly become a national debate. Scott Silver and I and many others would have a chance to debate the issue.

I believe the ARC, champion of mechanized commercialized access, would surely become a part of that national debate about Geocaching in Wilderness. Strange bedfellows?

Perhaps the ARC will propose a compromise: Geocachers could be licensed for a small fee, paid to the government, to use Wilderness and other public lands.

Through such Licensing, data on individuals who use the GPS, their preferred destinations and types of caches could be collected. Perhaps the Managers could Brand a similar activity offering a more satisfying experience for busy workers, worth a small extra fee (which also would support the maintenance of the land – similar to the attractive low cost 2005 Recreation Access Tax, called the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, (the FLREA), that was passed by Congress in 2005 as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, that recently replaced the unpopular Fee Demo parking fees. (Yes, that is a very long sentence.)

The mechanism to collect Geocaching fees and to monitor participation in the activity actually is now in place! ReserveAmerica, , is a private enterprise company (a subsidiary of Ticketron) that now provides the exclusive gateway to our public lands. Yes, If you need to reserve a campsite, get a trail permit or a summit permit (yes), get on an interpretive tour or buy a ticket to a National Park Service event, ReserveAmerica is the place to go. It is, in fact, the only place to go because ReserveAmerica has the federal monopoly. Yes, this is correct. If you don't know this you are not paying attention.

Now, folks who read this page can just roll their eyes and let the political appointees and the new marketing oriented professional land managers guide them into the future of commercial recreation or they can roll up their sleeves, join in the discussion and work out the best way for the public to use their public lands. Folks have two choices, it seems to me.
--Robert Speik, (political satire,) with tongue in cheek



Read more . . .

  The Badlands Wilderness
OpEd - Geocaching should not be banned in the Badlands
Fee Demo groundwork may save Geocaching on our public lands
Protest of exclusion of Geocaching in Badlands WSA in BLM's UDRMP
BLM's UDRMP puts Bend's Badlands off limits to Geocaching
Deschutes County Commissioners hearing on Badlands Wilderness support
OHV use restricted in Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan

Winter hiking in The Badlands WSA just east of Bend
Tread Lightly OHV USFS tip of the month

OHVs to be held to designated trails by USDA Forest Service!
New pole shows Badlands Wilderness favored by voters
BLM posts Reward for information on Juniper rustlers
BLM weighing public input on management plan
Oregon's Badlands hit by old growth Juniper rustlers  Photos
Congressman Greg Walden to visit The Badlands
Badlands Wilderness endorsed by COTA
OpEd - Unregulated OHV use is being reviewed across the western states
OHV use curtailed by new USFS policy decisions 
Sierra Club's Juniper Group supports Badlands Wilderness 
OHV regulation discussed at BLM meeting in Bend, Oregon
OpEd - Badlands part of BLM's recreation management area
OpEd - We need the Badlands Wilderness 
OpEd - Off-roaders have no reason to fear Badlands Wilderness designation
Speak for the Badlands at Town Hall Meeting 
Hiking poles are becoming essential gear 
Vandals destroy ancient pictographs in the Badlands
Senator Wyden tests support of Badlands Wilderness
Badlands Wilderness endorsed by Bend City Commissioners
The Badlands: proposed for Wilderness status

The Badlands unique geologic forms explained by Chitwood  pdf
The Badlands, a brief history  
The Badlands pictographs reported 75 year ago

TraditionalMountaineering adopts the Crooked River through Smith Rock State Park
The Republican Political Party is responsible?
Times Up, by Yvon Chouinard
Nation's forests might be on the road to ruin, by President Bill Clinton
Wilderness at risk from new Bush policies
Steens management scandal may affect wilderness study areas  
BLM outsourced Steens Management Plan to mining industry leaders!
Owyhee River wilderness study area inventory with ONDA
OHV vandals charged in Yellowstone
Oregon's B and B Complex fire closure modified 
Senate says NO to Big Oil in Alaska 
Gloria Flora - Environmental Hero 

Re-introducing wolves into Oregon 
George Bush overlooking the environment

  Fee Demo and Climbing Fees
Fee Demo program made permanent through last minute political deal!
Reserve your next backcountry adventure!
Fees, forests don't always fit, by Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho
Congressman Greg Walden limits fee demo
Fee demo program discriminates against our poor folks

Fee Demo looses to grass roots outrage
Fee Demo Forest Pass dropped at 20 sites on the Deschutes National Forest! 
Senator Regula's Fee Demo support and The Wilderness Center, Inc.
Senator Craig calls Fee Demo a failed program
Outdoor recreation in Oregon far from free 
Oregon Field Guide: “Pay to Play on Public Land”  

National Park Service plans climbing fees increase! 
Fee demo rejected by USFS employees 
Fee demo has "fallen short" - Senator Craig 
Fee demo demonstrations 

Map of huge exclusive OHV areas adjoining the Badlands