Whenever I join a public forum for the first time, I usually try to start posting little messages and try to ease my way into subjects. Mainly, for me to get a "feel" for the lay of the land. I surely didn't intend to take a stand so soon .
Thank you for the welcome. I have a few other comments to add to my email from last night for the group to think about......(stands on soapbox)
The reason I decided to just jump in on this subject is because I can certainly see the good that geocaching has done for my children. They absolutely LOVE going out and looking for treasure. In the process of finding new caches for them, I get the opportunity to show them trees, wildlife, some fantastic sights, and pass along the things that I learned about the outdoors as I grew up. I hope they develop an appreciation for things outdoors because of the things I do for them now. As they get older, I hope they will learn the necessity of managing places like WMAs, and the reason we need organizations like AGFC to see that wildlife has a place to live for a long time to come. When they are old enough to vote, and it comes time to pass taxes to help pay for AGFC projects and salaries, I hope they vote based on what they learned from our experiences.
Exploring WMA's with a parentís guidance gives children the opportunity to see wildlife and the habitat they call home. What better way to explore a WMA and teach children, as they seek a definable goal with a "reward" at the end for the young.
The AGFC is in a unique (and perhaps a somewhat awkward) position, in that they are going to send a message to Arkansans, both young and old, dictating how they feel about geocaching. I honestly believe that consistency is crucial when dealing with people, and government should be no different. As a manager, I have to be consistent regarding rules and regulations in how I manage my employees. Government and its agencies should be consistent in policy. Its counterproductive (and very frustrating) to have one agency allow geocaching, and then to have a very similar group potentially not allow it or worse yet, allow it but only to the benefit of their own employees. In my opinion, a very successful geocaching policy is already in place by the Parks Commission. All the AGFC would have to do is adopt it with little, if any modification.
The last time I checked, AGFC was actively participating in the education of children via its education centers. I see a perfect opportunity for AGFC to be a part of teaching young minds how to explore the wilds of Arkansas using GPS technology. We have the perfect opportunity as citizens of this state to teach good ecological practices using geocaching as a conduit. The direction that AGFC chooses to go on this subject, to me, has long lasting implications.
Ill say one last thing to those that have an interest in the outcome of this. If the AGA wishes to peruse geocaching on AGFC managed property, there needs to be a plan put together. It needs to show ways we intend to manage geocaches without disturbing wildlife, habitat, or making extra work for AGFC. AGFC is no different than any other government agency. They have a million things they have to work on everyday. The last thing they want is another headache to deal with. If you present a plan in a very logical, precise and SIMPLE way for upper management to understand it, you have a much better chance of having your voice heard. The first impression of a poorly organized group of individuals, with no planning or goals, is quite poor. I certainly am not saying that is the case with AGA, but we have the opportunity to have a say in government policy. We are all well aware of our higher standards regarding ecology (i.e., cache in trash out policy), but does the AGFC know that? If you have been to a WMA, you would see the potential benefit from having a cache in trash out policy. Some areas are just plain trashy. The AGFC needs to know our activities wont further damage habitat, but can actually help it. I think the AGFC needs an education in what we stand for and can do for WMA's. Let take advantage of that by putting our best collective foot forward.