A couple of days ago a number of geocachers who own caches that are in Gatineau Park received the following message:
You are receiving this message because one of your caches is located within the territory of Gatineau Park.
The National Capital Commission (NCC) wishes to control Geocaching in the Gatineau Park. Therefore, it is currently setting a procedure for caches within its territory, and is asking geocachers to archive all caches in the park. They are requesting the cooperation of concerned geocachers to pick up all the containers.
We are asking for your cooperation in collecting your cache and in archiving the listing. Note that on June 20, 2010, all remaining caches within the territory of the park will be archived.
All new requests for publication at this location will be denied until permission of the NCC and the new procedure are received. We apologize for this inconvenience, which is beyond our control, and solicit the patience and cooperation of all geocachers.
The Quebec Reviewers
About 300 geocaches are affected by this mass archiving. Needless to say, the local geocaching community is not impressed.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the Gatineau Park Ecosystem Conservation Plan (GPECP) says that geocaches located in the park’s integral conservation zone (ICZ) will be relocated in areas that are less sensitive before the end of summer 2010. It also says that the National Capital Commission will refer to Parks Canada’s guidelines to manage geocaching in the park.
While I’m not disputing the right of a landowner to control geocaching on their property, the approach that is being taken is a bit too extreme. In my opinion, it’s not necessary to force all existing geocaches to be archived and removed until the Parks Canada guidelines are in place. Instead, the NCC could issue a moratorium on new geocaches being placed in Gatineau Park and identify those geocaches in the ICZ and request just their removal. And they could allow cache owners more time to remove them.
For the remaining geocaches that are not in the ICZ, the NCC could grandfather them for the remainder of 2010, which would allow them time to set up their geocache management system. The caches could be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by a combination of the cache owners, the park staff and some other local geocachers over the course of the summer so that once the geocache management system is in place, the grandfathered caches could be pre-approved for inclusion under the new system. Caches that don’t make the cut could be removed gradually during the review process rather than in a mass culling.
The NCC should also organize some information sessions for the geocaching community to explain how geocaching under the GPECP is going to work and to listen to the geocachers’ concerns.
A cooperative, transparent process that involves the geocaching community (and not just the reviewers) is preferable to the one-sided edict from on high that we have now.