Sadly this seems to be one of the hardest things that people go though when they are submitting an EarthCache. The rules of when permission is needed can be different in different countries. In general you should plan on it, especially if you leave tht paved roads that have a lot of access.
I hear this a lot. It comes in a few different forms. Why do I need permission? It is public land why should I get permission? Those seem to be the most prevalent.
First, lands may be public, but they still have a land manager. They have specific tasks. Protect the park, create tourism, explain the area to guests, keep the area pristine; these are all examples of some of the things they have to do. Usually by law or rules from their bosses. So they review what goes on in their area of responsibility.
Over the four years I have been looking at EarthCaches i have seen a few reasons for denial.
Sensitive ecological area - Plants, animals, areas that may receive damage from people moving on them. They may be tasked with saving an endangered animal, dropping an EarthCache that drags visitors into some nesting ground does not help. A few caves have been declared off limits to protect local bat populations.
Historical Sites - Many sites are protected by obscurity. They do not publish where native American artifacts are located. You may not even know they are there, but they do not want people poking around that area. Of course if they had more money they could do something, but lacking that they just try and keep people away.
Culturally Significant - The one that comes to mind is Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Every year I get a submission for that monument. It is sacred to the Native Americans. As such the park does not advertise or push the monument much. A discussion with the park management told me that they had no intention to approve anything there because of the sacred nature to the native Americans in the area.
Protect the local minerals/fossils. A few sites have been denied for this reason. Dinosaur bones in the desert are left alone. Letting people know about the site can cause people to gather them up when they visit. I have seen this for sites in national parks where obsidian or petrified wood is located. Rangers do not want these to walk away. It happens. A national park Fossil Cycan National Monument was one. Everyone pilfered the park, and it was removed.
Here is my step by step process.
Find the topic.
- Write up basic information.
- Find out about other caches/EarthCaches in the area.
- Contact park educational outreach with the information info.
- Get Permission.
Know who to ask.
Many parks and properties have a number of employees, a
nd each one has their own duties and responsibilities. Going to the wrong one can cause you unneeded grief, or can just piss someone off. Some cachers have been very rude. I have spoken with over two dozen land managers, and with managers of over 15 National Parks. Most have the same issues, and concerns.
If you walk in and demand to see the park manager you may find success or miserable failure. Remember these people are working, their jobs have seen a hu
ge increase in workload in the last few years. Budget cuts and hiring freezes have wrecked havoc on many land managers.
Some parks are huge. They manage a large number of employees and contractors that come into the parks. Interrupting their important work of hiring, repairing, dealing with problems, animals and people to deal with permission for an EarthCache and annoy them.
If you walk in and talk to the National Park Ranger over enforcement you may get a completely different answer and reception that the ranger over education. One is trying to determine if you are violating any laws, if this is prone to cause problems, or cause damage. The other will look at this as a way to educate visitors about the park, and about the content.
Do your research to answer questions.
These are the most common questions that I see:
Where is it? I am shocked that many do not know how to read coordinates. The simplest way I have found is to find it on Google maps, drop a pin, then there is a link to your little map. Give them as much info as you can.
What are you teaching? Simple, give them a copy. They may ask for corrections, or you to change some information.
Is it near a road or trail? Many parks are worried about damage. Take a moment to let them know how far from the trail, and what trail.
How many visitors do you expect? This is usually pretty simple. I find the caches nearby, or EarthCaches, and can tell them. "Cache X is a mile away, it gets about 15 visitors a year" This usually relieves the worry that you are setting up a site with 1000 new people showing up and tearing the area apart.
If you are nearby try make an appointment or go in person. Talking with someone, if you are not interrupting or causing problems, goes a long ways. Be ready for a long wait if you are only doing the email thing. Remember that if you send an email you might be buried. Questions will be slow to come by. Sometimes it works well, other times expect something slow. Consider the phone, but be respectful.
Hopefully these help just a little.