A ban is planned in the proposed 32,000-acre wilderness for the growing sport that involves searching for planted items
BEND — Robert Speik ducks under barbed wire, crosses a patch of rabbitbrush and climbs a protrusion of lava rock in the Badlands to look for a box of trinkets.
After a mile’s hike, he finds the stash underneath a boulder and surveys the contents — dog biscuits, stickers, a toy frog, a shot glass and other items — but the real reward is the view of the Cascade Range to the west from atop the lava.
“This is just such a magical place to come out and wander around in,” he says.
But soon the 77-year-old Speik may not be able to go on his modern-day treasure hunts anymore in the Badlands. He’s among a new wave of outdoors enthusiasts known as geocachers who use satellite-guided navigation and the Internet to find hidden “caches” all over the country.
This spring, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, citing potential environmental harm, plans to ban geocaching in the Badlands, a 32,000-acre proposed wilderness about 15 miles east of Bend.
The sport has become one of the fastest-growing activities on public lands, pushing managers from the bureau down to city park groundskeepers to develop rules to handle the phenomenon.