Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Permian Basin Geocachers Clean Up!

With Earth Day recently past, I wanted to touch on the ways geocachers care for the planet and their communities.

I am a member of the Permian Basin Geocachers, a group of like minded adventurers that use GPS recievers to find "geocaches" hidden all over the world. These things aren't usually fancy or especially expensive but the draw is the thrill of the hunt. Remember how much fun it was to hunt Easter eggs as a child? It's like that only much much harder, and that's the way we like it. This game inherently relies on landowners allowing us to hide these caches with the expectation that we be good stewards of their land. So as a sign of respect cachers across the world practice what we call CITO, or Cache-In Trash-Out. Basically any time a geocacher is on a hunt, we should try to leave the spot looking better than we found it. That can mean picking up litter, not impacting sensative areas, and reporting illegal activities to the proper authorities. Beyond this we arrange group CITO events to give back to our community.

I'm not sure how to embed YouTube videos, but here is a link to a short introduction video on Geocaching.

Recently, the PBCA has done two CITO events. The first occurred on April 2 when we did our first clean up on a two mile stretch of Highway 349 that we have adopted north of Midland, TX as part of a city-wide clean up day. Almost 20 people showed up over the course of the day and in the end we removed an enormous heap of trash and carried over 10 bags of aluminum and plastic away for recycling. I would say the event was a huge success!

The second event occured this past weekend on April 30th. This weekend was designated Worldwide CITO Week by Geocaching.com so we Adopted-A-Spot in Midland, TX. This is a program run by Keep Midland Beautiful that targets city parks as well as vacant lots that are in need of clean up. We were assigned a vacant lot adjacent to Taco Villa on Andrews Highway in central Midland. Almost as many people showed up for this event as the Highway clean up earlier in the month so we were able to clear the area of refuse in just a few hours. We then gave away a few door prizes generously donated by Groundspeak (the company behind Geocaching.com) and Magellan before eating lunch next door. We cleared 15 bags of trash and one bag of recycling that day.

As you can see, not only is Geocaching a fun activity for people of all ages, but it is also one that gives back to those who make it possible.