MILLS RIVER — Turning down an appeal from a geocache enthusiast, the Town Board stuck by an earlier decision to bar the treasure-hunting hobby in the new town park.
Graeme McGufficke told board members that he had found more than 10,000 hidden caches since 2003 and had hidden more than 1,800 himself. He made an impassioned appeal to the board to reverse its ban on geocaching, saying that the activity tends to be self-policing based on rules posted on geocaching.com.
There are 11 caches within one mile of the park, 56 within five miles, 684 within 10 miles, 2,064 within 20 miles and 4,549 within 50 miles — and 1,791,809 worldwide. Some 5 million geocachers hunt for them.
The geocaches typically contain a logbook where the finder writes his or her name, indicating the find.
McGufficke described the sport as a driver of tourism and visitors. "If you guys have some geocaches in your park, folks will come visit," he said. Even the Boy Scouts have implicitly endorsed the activity, offering a geocaching merit badge.
Fletcher Community Park, Jackson Park and other local parks allow geocaching, he said. The state allows the hidden treasures but charges $30 a quarter and requires them to be removed after one year.
Board members said geocaching could attract people into the park after hours and could cause hunters to wander into neighboring property, which is not marked or fenced off.
The geocaching issue came up because a cache had been hidden at the park. It attracted the town employees' attention because they noticed people poking around a holly bush. That wasn't the only time a geocache has misled officials. Sheriff's deputies recently got a tip that drug activity was occurring at the Hendersonville water plant in Mills River. People were driving in, stopping for a few minutes and leaving. The attraction turned out to be a geocache.
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