Federal Requirements applicable to Wilderness Areas

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hikin_jim
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Re: Federal Requirements applicable to Wilderness Areas

Post by hikin_jim » Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:56 am

A lot of rangers I've spoken to don't know "chapter and verse" of the regulations. The ranger may have told Tom his general understanding of things, but probably couldn't cite a reg off the top of his head.

Just good sense tells me that trash in the wilderness is a "no, no." But caching isn't trash. I think that, as a practical matter, if one is discreet, then there won't be a problem.

HJ

Jim Hatt

Re: Federal Requirements applicable to Wilderness Areas

Post by Jim Hatt » Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:38 am

LDMGOLD wrote:Today the wilderness status of the area make it illegal to stock a hidden camp according to regulations.
Tom,
H_Jim,

I could agree more with everything you said, and personally, I can't find a thing in the regulations that forbids maintaining a stash of hidden emergency supplies out there. I will keep looking and will let everyone know if I find anything to the contrary.

Hopefully Tom will be able to tell us what his statement above was based on.

Best,

Jim

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Re: Federal Requirements applicable to Wilderness Areas

Post by cubfan64 » Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:57 am

I have a few e-mails in to different agencies to see if I can get an answer and will let everyone know whatever I hear back (if anything).

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Re: Federal Requirements applicable to Wilderness Areas

Post by cubfan64 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:57 am

I finally received an e-mail back regarding leaving things in the Wilderness Area - whether it be refuse or a "stash of supplies" for later or emergency use.

This is the exact response I received. I don't plan to follow up, but the name of the person who responded is included if anyone has further questions.
Paul,
Thank you for your inquiry into wilderness regulations. I hope the following information will answer your questions.

36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) sites the following as violations which include a fine:
261.10(e) Abandoning any personal property.
261.11 (b) Possessing or leaving refuse, debris, or litter in an exposed or unsanitary condition.

Also 36 CFR 293.2 says wilderness is to be administered in a manner that preserves and protects the wilderness character, and to promote, among other things, the specific values of solitude, inspiration, and primitive recreation. This section also gives direction that when resolving conflicts in resource use, wilderness values will be dominant.

Geocaching or leaving supplies in a wilderness area is in violation of federal law as shown above and is not consistent with values associated with designated wilderness areas.

If you have any further questions feel free to call me at (480) 610-3300.


Jason Scow
Recreation and Lands Staff
Mesa Ranger District
(480) 610-3300

Jim Hatt

Re: Federal Requirements applicable to Wilderness Areas

Post by Jim Hatt » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:52 am

Nice work Paul,
cubfan64 wrote:261.10(e) Abandoning any personal property.
Personally, I think the answer lies in the definition of the word "Abandon".


a·ban·don
–verb (used with object)

A - To leave completely and finally; forsake utterly; desert: to abandon one's farm; to abandon a child; to abandon a sinking ship.

B - To give up with the intent of never again claiming a right or interest in <abandon property>

I would argue that a cache of supplies or equipment, made with the intent to use them at a later date, are not "abandoned".

Nor do they fall under the definition of "refuse", debris, or litter which would be things left behind with no intent to ever retrieve, or use them in the future. (Abandoned)
cubfan64 wrote:"leaving supplies in a wilderness area is in violation of federal law as shown above"
This is obviously an opinion which is highly debatable, (based on the definitions of the wording in the law) and may, or may not, stand up in court.

I can understand why you don't want to pursue the matter further. :lol:

The final decision would have to come from someone at a higher pay grade than yours, mine or Mr. Scow's.


Best,

Jim

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Re: Federal Requirements applicable to Wilderness Areas

Post by cubfan64 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:44 pm

Jim Hatt wrote:Nice work Paul,
cubfan64 wrote:261.10(e) Abandoning any personal property.
Personally, I think the answer lies in the definition of the word "Abandon".


a·ban·don
–verb (used with object)

A - To leave completely and finally; forsake utterly; desert: to abandon one's farm; to abandon a child; to abandon a sinking ship.

B - To give up with the intent of never again claiming a right or interest in <abandon property>

I would argue that a cache of supplies or equipment, made with the intent to use them at a later date, are not "abandoned".

Nor do they fall under the definition of "refuse", debris, or litter which would be things left behind with no intent to ever retrieve, or use them in the future. (Abandoned)
cubfan64 wrote:"leaving supplies in a wilderness area is in violation of federal law as shown above"
This is obviously an opinion which is highly debatable, (based on the definitions of the wording in the law) and may, or may not, stand up in court.

I can understand why you don't want to pursue the matter further. :lol:

The final decision would have to come from someone at a higher pay grade than yours, mine or Mr. Scow's.


Best,

Jim
Yup - I agree that's it's "just" vague enough to be open to interpretation. I picked up on the word "abandon" as well, and an argument could probably made either way when it comes to a stash of supplies, but that's for a lawyer and judge to determine I guess - not me :)

Every circumstance is different I suppose, but knowing how government and the judicial system works, if a stash of supplies is found by a Ranger and traced back to someone because of a name or address left amongst the stash, odds are the person will get a fine. You can fight it in court of course, but unless you know someone or have the money for a great lawyer, odds are you'll lose.

Anyways - at least we have the actual CFR regulations to see in print.

Paul

Jim Hatt

Re: Federal Requirements applicable to Wilderness Areas

Post by Jim Hatt » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:55 pm

Paul,

In real life it comes down pretty simply, for avoiding any kind of litigation.

I have a close friend that volunteers with the F.S. maintaining trail, and checking water and fire conditions, and he comes across hidden stashes of tools and equipment all the time. If they can identify who it belongs to, they just notify them that it has been found and ask them to remove it.

Then the guy just goes in and moves it to a better hiding place. :lol:

If they can't find out who it belongs to, they pass the word that it has been found, to some of the people they know who spend a lot of time in the mtns. and hope it will eventually find the ear of the owner, and he will remove (re-hide) it. ;)

I know of one large stash my friend found up on Blacktop Mtn. and he called me to see if it was mine, or belonged to anyone I knew? I told him no, and gave him some names and numbers of some other people to check with. He told me that if I did find out who it belonged to, I should let him know that he had 2 weeks to get it out of there, or the F.S. was going to have it all packed out.

6 months later... It was still there, and my friend was still calling me to see if I had found out who it belonged to. That was about 4 years ago, and I'll betchya it is still there today.

I think they have higher priorities/commitments to worry about than peoples stashes in the Superstition Mountains, or anywhere else.

Best,

Jim

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Re: Federal Requirements applicable to Wilderness Areas

Post by cubfan64 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:31 pm

I think they have higher priorities/commitments to worry about than peoples stashes in the Superstition Mountains, or anywhere else.
That sums it up nicely I think.

I'm sure it would be different if they had the manpower, but they don't and I suspect they never will.

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Re: Federal Requirements applicable to Wilderness Areas

Post by hikin_jim » Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:57 am

Thanks for this, guys.

I think that ranger is selectively interpreting the statues to have them say what he wants. "Abandon" implies finality. When I park my car at a trailhead and go on a 5 day backpack, have I abandoned my car? Certainly not because I intend to come back for it. By the same token, I am not going to take the trouble to pack valuable supplies into some remote location unless I intend to come back for them. Ergo, I have not abandoned them.

Now if supplies lay there for years, deteriorating, I think the FS would have a better case. But good supplies kept in good order clearly do not meet the criteria of abandoned.

Still, I'd make sure I hid things well in out-of-the way spots -- if for no other reason than I don't want someone else using them. If I cache supplies, I want to be able to depend upon them being there.

This brings up a question: when people cache, how do they keep critters out of the supplies? Honestly, I'm more worried about critters than the FS. I've seen everything from bear canisters to cookie tins to paint cans used. What are people here using?

HJ

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