"jrusert" <>
Sent: 10/27/2000 10:28:11 AM

Re: [gpsstash] Reply to email I sent to Sierra Clubber

After reading Don Pachner's comments to Matt, If these thoughts are at all representative of Sierra Club members, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Sierra Club comes out in favor of waiting periods and background checks for new purchasers of handheld (read concealable) GPS units, eventually leading to registration and confiscation of all concealable GPS receivers and cable locks on the built-in GPS systems in cars and boats.

I get especially worried when I read terms like "human-powered boating" and "pure hiking".

Very, very scary.


Nuclear weapons have the capability to destroy all life on earth, if used properly.
----- Original Message -----
From: Matt O'Brien
Sent: Friday, October 27, 2000 10:59 PM
Subject: [gpsstash] Reply to email I sent to Sierra Clubber

Hi Matt,

Thanks for writing to me. First, I'd like to know who gave you my
name, as I don't think I've communicated with you previously. Since
you've written to me personally, I'll send you a personal reply.
This in no way reflects the official position of the
environmental/outdoors organizations I volunteer with. I will send a
copy of my reply to our list.

I fully appreciate what you say, and I have no problem with the game
as you set it out in your email. I also have seen sports such as
this expand in popularity and commercially as a fad in a way that the
first participants never imagined.

The combination of commercialism, along with easy purchase of these
GPS units, which are becoming more and more popular for activities
other than pure hiking, camping, human-powered boating and climbing
have the potential to make this a fad sport among those who do not
share your concerns about environmental/ecological sensitivity.

I'm actually quite sympathetic to those who participated in this when
selective availability was first disabled by the US Government, as a
fun way to experiment with a new dimension of their GPS units. I
would easily have done the same thing, if it were me.

My concern is whether the geocoaching people will proactively take the
initiative to enforce these philosophical principals and standards
you refer to below. I've seen what's happened in the mountain biking
community here in the East, and, frankly, they blatantly break the
rules and encourage erosion of hiking trails in environmentally
sensitive areas (I've seen an unconcerned, organized group with 20 or
more bikers pass by on an off-limits trail in the Hudson Highlands
while working with a trail maintenance crew installing stepping
stones to protect a wet area from erosion, when the biking trail was
only a few miles away!). I've also witnessed the commercial
expansion of ski areas in the East during the past 45 years in a
way that has moved from sustainable low-cost family sport to
unsustainable sprawl and environmentally inappropriate real estate
development, along with environmentally damaging expansion or
proposed expansion of the ski areas.

I'd be interested to know whether you and your organization would be
willing to take this extra step to safeguard your sport into the


Don Pachner

Subject: Geocaching

Hi Don,

My name is Matt O'Brien, and I am an avid outdoors
person who happens to be involved in the activity of
Geocaching. I have recently become aware of concerns
you and other members of your organization have over
this new form of recreation and thought I'd provide
you with the perspective of someone who is involved.

Most, if not all of those involved in the activity are
avid outdoors folk who enjoy using our GPS units in
the field. We use them while camping, hiking,
climbing, boating, etc. and find them, along with
proper use of a compass, very useful. And, after
having paid a small fortune for the units (typically
between $150-$400 for a decent handheld model), we are
always looking for new applications for them.

Along came President Clinton's directive to cease
selective availability which enabled our units to
become much more precise than they had been
previously, which in turn, inspired someone to come up
with this high-tech game of hide & seek. And, as
George Mallory repied when asked why he wanted to
climb Mt. Everest, we are inspired to search out these
hidden treasures "because they are there", and because
it gives us yet another reason to visit the beautiful

As a fellow outdoorsman, I understand your concerns
that items placed in the forest (or anywhere), and/or
those who search them out could be detrimental to
potentially fragile ecosystems. And you are correct.
But, I am genuinely concerned that many have been, and
continue to, form preconceived notions of who we are
and what we do, based solely on what they read in the
article or on what they are reading on your bulletin

Those of us involved have and continue to discuss
issues regarding where and how we place our stashes,
their contents, and potential for envirnmental damage
by the stash or those who seek to locate it. We are
well aware of the issues and are proactive in taking
steps to avoid environemtental or ecological problems.
Many stashes are located within short walking distance
of parking, and along well travelled hiking routes.
The notion that we are blazing trails or bushwhacking
is ill conceived and incorrect. There are some stashes
placed in fairly remote locations, but these too are
along popular hiking routes. Still others are located
within urban boundaries altogether.

In response to concerns that our stashes are 'litter',
I can only say that litter is defined as something
that has been discarded. Our stashes are not
discarded, rather we fully intend them to be found and
we, as owners of a stash, revisit them on occsion to
ensure their integrity is maintained and neither they,
nor their contents pose any threat to their
surroundings. Most of us include a note which
describes the object, it's purpose and it's contents.
We also typically include a statement to the effect
that we will come and remove the stash if it is in
violation of any laws, rules, etc. or just plain
unwanted. We do this for the enjoyment of visiting the
outdoors with the added pleasure of a treasure hunt,
ableit the value is in the enjoyment, not the treasure

Many of us include our children when we search as it
allows us the opportunity to introduce them to the
great outdoors with an objective. It's a clean,
wholesome activity which can be enjoyed with one's
family. And in these times, anything that the family
can do together is a wonderful thing. And in my case,
my daughter is thrilled when we find the 'treasure'.

I encourage you to share my comments with your group
in order to provide them with a better understanding
of the activity and those who particpiate in it.

Thank you for your time and please let me know if you
have any questions or concerns which I might pass
along to my fellow geocachers.

Matt O'Brien

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