Eco-Friendly Geocaching

Eco-Friendly GeocachingGeocaching, the GPS treasure hunt game, has introduced thousands of people, young and old, to the joys of hiking and outdoor exploration. Geocaching has brought in a new generation of land stewards to clean up and maintain conservation areas. But some wilderness enthusiasts worry about the environmental impact of geocaching on natural habitats. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics encourages everyone, including geocachers, to observe the following practices: Plan ahead and prepare; travel and camp on durable surfaces; dispose of waste properly; leave what you find; minimize campfire impacts; respect wildlife; and be considerate of other visitors. Here are other essentials to ensure that your geocaching activities leave minimal impact on planet Earth.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Seeking a Cache

Things You’ll Need:
  • GPS receiver
  • Day pack with necessities, such as water and bug spray
  • Trash bag to pack out
Step 1
Park in the designated area for the geocache. Don't drive onto the trail unless it is approved for off-road vehicles.
Step 2
Stay on established trails as much as possible. If you must bushwhack, step carefully to avoid damaging habitats. Cover your tracks afterward.
Step 3
Don't disturb nests or dislodge habitats. Probe carefully around hollow logs and tree roots.
Step 4
Practice CITO, which stands for Cache In and Trash Out. Pack out your own trash and pick up other trash you find on the geocache trail.
Step 5
Notify the cache owner if it appears to be hidden in an environmentally sensitive area.

Hiding a Cache

Step 1
Seek permission from the land manager to place your cache. Avoid environmentally sensitive areas.
Step 2
Consider the type and size of cache to minimize environmental impact. EarthCache activities are challenging, educational and bring people to unique geological sites without leaving a physical container. If placing a traditional cache, consider a micro-cache.
Step 3
If your cache holds trade items, don't include food or liquids, which might leak or attract animals. Consider placing a small CITO kit (trash bag) for finders to pack out trash.
Step 4
Hide your cache on or near established trails so that finders don't create social trails and damage habitats. Avoid nesting areas.
Step 5
Attend to cache maintenance regularly, so that your geocache doesn't become geotrash.

Tips & Warnings

Be aware of hunting season and wear blaze orange if hunting is allowed.
Learn to identify and avoid poison ivy and other poisonous plants. If there are leaves of three, let them be.
Wear bug spray containing DEET and check for ticks afterward, which can carry bacteria-causing Lyme disease and other illnesses.

Article Written By Susan Spencer

Since 2000, Susan Spencer has contributed to the "Worcester Telegram & Gazette," "Cape Cod Life," "Worcester Living," "Sister 2 Sister," and other publications. She specializes in health, education, culture and lifestyle, the outdoors/environment, and regional travel. She has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.S. from Harvard School of Public Health.

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