After spending considerable time to foster relationships and build trust with a wildlife refuge, earlier this year, I obtained permission to place 2 Geocaches on the land of Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Alton Maine. This is an expansive of over 2400 acres which includes woods, trails, fields, ponds, streams, and yes, even Maine's national bird the mosquitos and black flies. But in all that, this area is open through all seasons and we all know the bugs will eventually go.
Hirundo had not welcomed Geocaching with open arms. There was concern for folks not adhering to the rules. The caretakers were willing to listen, accept my presentation, believed in what I said (that most would adher to the rules as long as they were posted) and then they convenienced the Board of Directors to give us a chance. I was delighted when I was invited to place some caches.
We (meaning the caretakers and myself) decided to take a cautious approach. One on a trail near their home (on the grounds) and near the proper parking for all access to the trails and the other near the refuge's first sign on Rt. 43 (this being a swift park and grab). Both cache pages defined clearly the rules of the refuge and clearly stated there was one - and only one place to park (parking at Gate 2). Now to stop and grab the "gas saver" near the big sign on Rt. 43 is fine but it is not fine to park there and leave your car. In fact, there are NO PARKING signs and it states cars will be towed.
The third cache placed (and what may be last cache) was placed further in on their land and near a very pretty little pond. Yes, the coords are nearly straight in from the "Gas Saver" cache. It is just NOT OK to park here folks! Parking is at Gate 2 and there is a parking lot. Gate 1 is clearly marked NO PARKING! So why, would anyone park there for a 1/4 to 1/2 mile hike?
Now, I don't know why folks do it - maybe they think it won't take that long, or no one is watching - or something - but Lac D'OR (the 3rd cache placed) is being accessed by folks parking at Gate #1, stepping across the cable and walking down the road. In fact, the caretaker called me today about people parking at Gate #1.
This will seriously compromise the ability to put any more caches out here and/or we may loose these few. There are so many more lovely places to put caches ~ more futher in on trails ~ to be accessed by snowshoes or skis, ones to be accesses by kayak or canoe, one at several boat launch sites - and they have acreage with potential for events.
Why don't people read the cache pages? Or do they and just ignore what it says on them? I was very careful to post parking coordinates on the cache pages. They have very clearly marked NO PARKING signs at Gate #1.
So - will there be future caches at Hirundo Wildlife Refuge? Will there be kayak caches there? Will they welcome us this winter? I guess it all remains to be seen.
If people continue to take shortcuts - and they don't read the cache pages and follow the rules - No, we probably will loose the opportunity to enjoy putting more caches out on 2400 acres of gorgeous land in Alton Maine.
And to those who parked in the parking lot at Gate #2 - thank you! I am hopeful from a discussion here on this page, people will be more attentive - not only for Hirundo - but for all places where the cache page offers you clear directions of where to park. I know I will be paying more attention from now on.