Remember Jackie Johansen's nighttime trek through Howarth Park last summer to sniff out a hidden tube containing a fake tattoo, a rubber skeleton and a button using nothing but GPS coordinates and a trail of "alien blood"? In keeping with our somewhat biased conviction that the Bohemian is always terribly ahead of the curve, the Sonoma County Regional Parks Department has announced that it is drafting legislation to cement the rules of geocaching, the game in which participants use GPS technology to track down small boxes of "treasure" hidden in public areas, as featured in last year's July 22 Arcadia issue. Proposed regulations revolve around protecting the natural environment, cultural areas and historical sites.
The department invited the local geocaching community to attend open meetings last week in an effort to gauge their responses and integrate their feedback. "They had a lot of good insight on which regulations would be practical," says park operations intern Jen Stanfield. "They took exception to a few parts, most notably being asked to pre-register caches before placing them in the park."
Currently, geocachers who hide new caches register their coordinates online. Each cache has a webpage on which the hider drops hints and seekers post reviews of the cache's accessibility and share their excitement when their search proves successful. An online search produces coordinates for 374 caches within a five-mile radius of Howarth Park. It's kind of a big deal.
"We want to encourage [geocaching] because it gets people outside, it gets people into parks and it's a great family activity," Stanfield says. "We wanted to get some rules in place so we can continue to work in harmony with our mission statement."
The geocaching policy will go before the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission during their August meeting.
For the Old towser The Garry Owen Foundation brings annual Kindness to Canines fundraiser June 16 to Barney Kiernan's pub, this year requesting participants donate biscuit boxes for purposes of training mongrel breeds in fetch. Event coordinators ask that donors please refrain from hurling cans prior to festivities, as previous years saw tragic loss of life resulting from the seismic perturbations of mass tossed tins.