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March 06, 2014 09:48 PM CST

How Not To Hide a Cache Part 4

Reviewer's Words

Author: Rebecca Lillo. 259 Reads
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Written by Wis Kid


How Not To Hide a Cache – Defacement, Damage, and Destruction

Most of you probably realize that, as geocachers, we play our game at the pleasure of property owners and land managers.   Through the hard work of many people, most parks and other public property in Wisconsin are open to geocaching, and, in fact, many park systems actively welcome us to their properties.  We need to be careful, however, to retain that welcome by hiding our caches in a way that is respectful to those properties.


One of the most important guidelines we have is known as the “Buried Cache Guideline”.  To put it simply, Geocaches are never buried.   This was instituted early in the game, as many land managers thought of geocaching as a “Buried Treasure” game, and were reluctant to let us on their lands.   Even if you have explicit permission to bury your cache on a property, we don’t publish these, as they create a bad example for other hiders who might not understand what is allowed. 

So, what exactly does “buried” mean?  Essentially, if you have moved any earth to hide your cache, it is considered buried.   Did you dig a hole?  Then you have buried your cache.  Did you dig a hole and then frame it up with wood?  Buried.   Did you force a pipe or other external container into the ground?  Buried.  On the other hand, putting rocks, leaves, sticks or other debris on top of your cache does NOT make your cache buried.  Also, you are allowed to stick SMALL objects into the ground, such as wires or stakes.  Note that at 6” diameter pipe is NOT a small object, regardless of what you find in other states.


While we only see a few buried caches every year, we have more problems with fasteners, such as bolts, nails, screws, etc. used to attach containers to trees, signs and other objects.   This drives land managers crazy and results in a lot of angry phone calls to the reviewers.   We had someone recently use 1 inch wood screws to attach a container to the side wall of a park shelter.   I’m sure you have all found caches that were nailed or screwed into trees, signs, and other public objects.   This is not acceptable to either or the various land managers in the state.  If you need to attach something, please use zip ties, wire, Velcro, or other nonpermanent attachments. 


Sometimes, cache placers will think the easiest way to hide a stage of a multicache is to actually write the coordinates of the next stage on a building, wall, bridge, or other structure.  We have also seen people drill out holes in trees, signs, pavement, bridge abutments, and other objects.  All of this is considered defacement, and is not only against the guidelines, but usually falls under vandalism statutes.   You really don’t want to test out the law enforcement community to see if they can figure out who you are from your online posts.  (Quick answer:  Yes, they can find you if they want without too much effort.)


While not a guidelines issue, it is important for hiders of “very difficult” caches to consider the effect their cache will have on the area.   Certain types of locations, such as wet forests, bogs and fens, steep hillsides, and other delicate land features can get permanently destroyed by the extended searching resulting from a difficult search.   Caches in these sorts of locations should be relatively easy to find.  Similarly, you should probably try to avoid decorative plants in cemeteries and city parks.  Even a few searches can mess up flower beds and some shrubberies.  If you have a hard cache you want to hide, try to stick to durable or resilient locations, such as pine forests, cedar barrens, trails, and, yes, parking lots.  If in doubt, discuss your hide with the land manager.  They will be happy to help you find an appropriate spot for your cache. 


Please understand that it is impossible for the reviewers to catch all the defacements involved in hiding geocaches.  If you run into something in the field that constitutes defacement, please contact a reviewer to have the situation corrected. 


Copyright © by Wisconsin Geocaching Association
All Right Reserved.

Category: Reviewer's Words
Tags: Reviewer Defacement Destruction
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